A Note on "Pierce Inverarity"

Author: Robert Brazeau (McMaster University)

  • A Note on "Pierce Inverarity"


    A Note on "Pierce Inverarity"



In The Crying of Lot 49, Pynchon foregrounds the polemic involving the name as either an arbitrary or a motivated signifier most overtly in the case of Oedipa Maas, whose name helps the reader construct an order for her experience. Of course, since this foregrounding occurs in a novel that casts suspicion on such constructions because they may deliberately obfuscate whatever legitimate orders may exist, there is ample cause to be leery of any thematic significance the name seems to provide. This note helps to explicate Pierce Inverarity's peculiar name through a possible source in James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Joyce also overtly engages naming as both an arbitrary and a motivated act in the character of Stephen Oedalus, who, by the end of the novel, assumes the prophecy of his name to become an "artificer." Joyce, therefore, not only provides a source for the name Inverarity, but also serves Pynchon studies as a literary precursor through whom to better understand Pynchon's approach to naming.

How to Cite:

Brazeau, R., (1992) “A Note on "Pierce Inverarity"”, Pynchon Notes , 185-187. doi:

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Published on
21 Sep 1992