Reading: Pynchon, JFK and the CIA: Magic Eye Views of The Crying of Lot 49

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Pynchon, JFK and the CIA: Magic Eye Views of The Crying of Lot 49

Author:

Charles Hollander

Baltimore, MD
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Abstract

On the surface, The Crying of Lot 49 is so much a novel about Oedipa Maas, her life, her loves, her thoughts, that it hardly qualifies as what Irving Howe would describe as a political novel. Yet while this miniature masterpiece is not a manifesto or a call to arms, some critics see reading it as a "subversive experience" that could generate contempt for power, a disrespect for the national leadership, because Lot 49 is a scathing history lesson, a look behind the political events and historical figurations that led America into the mess that was the mid-sixties (Kolodny). To study Lot 49 is to decrypt Pynchon's encoded messages and enter split-level consciousness, to read the narrative against the subtext of historical allusions, to find how skepticism toward government is central to Pynchon's work. When we do, we find Lot 49 to be Pynchon's encrypted meditation on the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
How to Cite: Hollander, C., (1997). Pynchon, JFK and the CIA: Magic Eye Views of The Crying of Lot 49. Pynchon Notes. (40-41), pp.61–106. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/pn.164
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Published on 22 Sep 1997.
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