Reading: "The Enigma His Efforts Had Created": Thomas Pynchon and the Legacy of America

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"The Enigma His Efforts Had Created": Thomas Pynchon and the Legacy of America

Author:

Jeffrey Louis Decker

Harvard University
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Abstract

In the best tradition of classic American literature, the existential narrator of Norman Mailer's American Dream (1965) lights out at the end for the territory. Stephen Richard Rojack has survived a thirty-two hour journey through the subterranean depths of New York City and left it behind. The catch is that, instead of being ahead of the rest, he confronts a frontier previously settled many times over. Upon arriving in the Southwest, Rojack has a revelation: the bifurcated atmosphere of this terrain (110° furnace outside, 70° of air-conditioned oxygen inside) was "again producing a new breed of man,'" Rojack, however, rejects the empty, orbital quality of the machine-made atmosphere; moreover, he rejects the "new man" the last frontier left behind. Gazing upon the city lights of Las Vegas from his desert vantage point, Rojack indicates that he will try his luck elsewhere. Perhaps this time he will head south, toward another America.
How to Cite: Louis Decker, J., (1991). "The Enigma His Efforts Had Created": Thomas Pynchon and the Legacy of America. Pynchon Notes. (28-29), pp.27–42. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/pn.255
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Published on 22 Sep 1991.
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