Pynchon's Herero

Author: David Seed (Liverpool University)

  • Pynchon's Herero


    Pynchon's Herero



The most thorough attempt to explain and translate Pynchon's use of Herero words in Gravity's Rainbow has been made in Appendix II of Douglas Fowler's A Reader's Guide Gravity's Rainbow (1980), which is by no means complete and very patchy in its commentary. The following is an attempt to fill some of its gaps. Fowler and Edward Mendelson have rightly identified Pynchon's two linguistic sources as F. W. Kolbe's An English-Herero Dictionary with an Introduction to the Study of Herero and Bantu in General (Cape Town: J. C. Junta, 1883) and P. H. Brincker's Worterbuch und Kurzgefasste Grammatik des Otji-Herero (Leipzig: C:-G. Büttner, 1886). Brincker's dictionary was reprinted in 1964 by the Gregg Press (Ridgewood, NJ). Pynchon is characteristically scrupulous in his use of Herero and often provides enough contextual hints to make the meaning of particular words evident.

How to Cite:

Seed, D., (1982) “Pynchon's Herero”, Pynchon Notes 10, p.37-44. doi:



Published on
01 Oct 1982