Reading in Pynchon criticism to date is a good lesson in how irrelevant thematic studies can be to literary scholarship if they are not argued from within an understanding of the fiction, instead of being merely grafted onto it. Writing governs and defines its themes, and the critic must always have the process of the writing securely in mind before proposing to say what the writing means. This is particularly true of Pynchon's writing, which enacts the uncertainties of meaning. Because his books are in many respects about the interpretation of meaning, they resist efforts to impose a consistent pattern upon them. This is especially evident in those efforts which are entirely thematic and which attempt to discern the "message" of Pynchon's work without attending to its medium.
How to Cite:
Schaub, T. H., (1981) “Where Have We Been, Where Are We Headed?: A Retrospective Review of Pynchon Criticism”, Pynchon Notes 7, 5-21. doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/pn.468