Reading: Historical Sources for Thomas Pynchon’s “Peter Pinguid Society”

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Historical Sources for Thomas Pynchon’s “Peter Pinguid Society”

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Martin Paul Eve

University of Sussex
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Abstract

Most close readings of the Peter Pinguid Society section in The Crying of Lot 49 have hailed it as an example par excellence of Pynchon’s aptitude for combining historical fact with fiction. However, many of these works have underestimated the precision of Pynchon’s sourcing (J. K. Grant 60-61) while others, in extreme cases, have been deceived into the all-too-familiar uncanniness whereby Pynchon’s extra-textual history appears too fantastical to be real (Pérez 40). In this note, I will present the cumulative textual evidence to support the view that Pynchon consulted a single work, F. A. Golder’s “The Russian Fleet and the Civil War” to construct the historicity of this episode. I will also present an interesting historical connection to the date of significance to Pinguid’s supposed followers, for 9 March 1864 was actually the date of Ulysses S. Grant’s ascent to the rank of Lieutenant-General—a significant factor in the Union Civil War victory.
How to Cite: Eve, M.P., (2009). Historical Sources for Thomas Pynchon’s “Peter Pinguid Society”. Pynchon Notes. (56-57), pp.242–245. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/pn.18
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Published on 22 Sep 2009.
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