A Note on Television in Vineland

Author: Albert Piela III (University of South Carolina)

  • A Note on Television in Vineland


    A Note on Television in Vineland



One of the reasons some Modernist authors appropriated myths for their works was that myths provided writers and readers a shared way of speaking about and understanding the world. While Modernists informed their works with classical and Biblical myths, their successors tend to be more playful. In Vineland, his fourth novel, Thomas Pynchon evokes the myths of popular culture, especially those shaped by television. Television programs function mythically because they compose a body of stories, characters, and symbols that give expression to the aspirations and values of American culture. As Brad Leithauser notes, a television mythology assists communication among Vineland's characters. In a review of the novel, he writes: "Whatever the disparities in their outlooks, Pynchon's characters are united in having television serve as their communal well of learning, from which they draw their humor, morality, locutions, analogies" (7). But even more important, Pynchon and his public share a television mythology, and the author dips into this reservoir of myths to communicate with Vineland's readers. Some critics question this practice. Paul Gray, for example, considers it "disquieting to find a major author drawing cultural sustenance from 'The Brady Bunch' and '1 Love Lucy' instead of The Odyssey and the Bible" (70).

How to Cite:

Piela III, A., (1990) “A Note on Television in Vineland”, Pynchon Notes , 125-127. doi:

Download PDF



Published on
22 Sep 1990