The Ideology of Detection in Pynchon and Delillo

Author: Douglas Keesey (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo)

  • The Ideology of Detection in Pynchon and Delillo


    The Ideology of Detection in Pynchon and Delillo



The description of Pynchon's Oedipa Maas above might once have served to describe Pynchon critics and, indeed, Critics of postmodernism generally. Emphasis on the epistemological and ontological uncertainties of self-reflexive and open-ended texts has for too long distracted attention from their social and political import. Even Marxist critics like Fredric Jameson and Terry Eagleton, who might be expected to be more receptive to the social meaning encoded in complex texts, have characterized postmodern fiction as apolitical pastiche or depthlessness–generalizations as premature as they have been influential. Almost as if in response to these critics, Pynchon has recently published a text (Vineland [1990]) so ostentatiously political that it might well prompt a more socially conscious rereading of his entire oeuvre. This essay is a mere prolegomenon to such a rereading, spurred by Vineland and by the recent work of critics like Linda Hutcheon and Robert Siegle who have begun to see the formal innovations of postmodern fiction, not merely as intellectual puzzles, but also as responses to social context and as cultural interventions designed to effect change within that context.

How to Cite:

Keesey, D., (1993) “The Ideology of Detection in Pynchon and Delillo”, Pynchon Notes , 44-59. doi:

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Published on
22 Sep 1993