Reading: The Vagueness of Difference: You, the Reader and the Dream of Gravity's Rainbow

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The Vagueness of Difference: You, the Reader and the Dream of Gravity's Rainbow

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Michael L. Levine

Great Books Foundation
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Abstract

Any response to Thomas Pynchon's fiction will likely be affected as much by what Pynchon withholds as by what he gives, so the dominant impression one of his novels leaves may be determined by what the reader considers the most significant unanswered questions. The Crying of Lot 49, for instance, refuses to answer many questions, but the question of how the story ends–what happens when the auctioneer announces lot 49–overshadows anything else that seems to be missing from the book. But it is hard to imagine the novel with this piece of information added. It is even harder to imagine Gravity's Rainbow with all its absences present and unsettling questions answered. As in The Crying of Lot 49, much of what seems to be missing from Gravity's Rainbow is basic narrative information. The answers a reader most often wants pertain to the simple question of who is doing what. Partly because of this lack of basic narrative information, the novel, as Leo Bersani puts it, "permanently infects us with the paranoid anxieties of its characters" (187).
How to Cite: L. Levine, M., (1999). The Vagueness of Difference: You, the Reader and the Dream of Gravity's Rainbow. Pynchon Notes. (44-45), pp.117–131. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/pn.122
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Published on 22 Sep 1999.
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