Reading: Grab-bagging in Gravity's Rainbow: Incidental (Further) Notes and Sources


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Grab-bagging in Gravity's Rainbow: Incidental (Further) Notes and Sources


Georg Schmundt-Thomas

Northwestern University
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In spite of Douglas Fowler, Steven Weisenburger, and others' painstaking efforts to unearth layer upon layer of textual fossils, Gravity's Rainbow as postmodern "tale of the tribe" and inexhaustible "grab-bag" of cultural allusions (to borrow from Pound) is still worth foraging in. If, with Robert Scholes in Textual Power (New Haven: Yale UP, 1985), we hold that "reading is actually based upon a knowledge of the codes that were operative in the composition of any given text and the historical situation in which it was composed" (21), Pynchon's novel has not yet been "read" in its entirety. This total readerly reconstruction of any text may very well be a futile and impossible undertaking, and, like Stencil in V. and Slothrop in Gravity's Rainbow, we may all be on a fool's errand. But then, textual exegesis is also one way of finding and ordering the scattered pieces of our own cultural identity and history. Needless to say, it is fun too, and maybe even a scholarly form of "mindless pleasure." (Page references below are to the Viking/Penguin edition of Gravity's Rainbow.)
How to Cite: Schmundt-Thomas, G., 1990. Grab-bagging in Gravity's Rainbow: Incidental (Further) Notes and Sources. Pynchon Notes, (26-27), pp.91–95. DOI:
Published on 22 Sep 1990.
Peer Reviewed


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