The Prismatic Character in Gravity's Rainbow

Author: Carol F. Richer (Purdue University)

  • The Prismatic Character in Gravity's Rainbow


    The Prismatic Character in Gravity's Rainbow



In order to begin a meaningful discussion of characterization in Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, it is first necessary for the critical reader to confront the major changes in the novel form which have emerged during the last two decades. Since the early sixties, traditional expectations about what Gerald Graff calls "the narrative method of the realistic novel" have been challenged by a new type of fiction, commonly called the anti-novel or the postmodern novel, which represents, in part, a protest against the established conventions of the novelist's art, as well as a departure from the nineteenth-century emphasis upon the depiction of a recognizable external reality. Consequently, if the reader persists in using the conventions of the nineteenth-century realistic novel (which Linda Hutcheon rightly suggests have threatened to become a genre definition rather than a period description) to judge, structure, systematize, and otnerwise pigeonhole Gravity's Rainbow, then the critic will, as many have done, simply toss the book into the heap of unreadable experiments.

How to Cite:

Richer, C. F., (1983) “The Prismatic Character in Gravity's Rainbow”, Pynchon Notes 12, 26-38. doi:

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Published on
01 Jun 1983