Reading: Death Was No Enemy: A Note on Thomas Pynchon, Wilfred Owen, and The First World War

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Death Was No Enemy: A Note on Thomas Pynchon, Wilfred Owen, and The First World War

Author:

Roger A. Berger

Wabash College
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Abstract

In his discussion of Gravity's Rainbow, Michael Seidel suggests that Pynchon uses the "interface" between the First and Second World Wars to demonstrate the radical shift in the world to "a new order that conspires to annihilate permanently what remains of humanity in the race" (204). In particular, Seidel, like Paul Fussell, points to Brigadier Pudding as Pynchon's prime exemplar of a decaying world order (Seidel 205-07; Fussell 328-34). I would like to note another way that Pynchon emphasizes the differences between the wars—especially how the Second World War represents the beginning of the bureaucratized and cartelized state. In discussing the differences between the wars, Pynchon makes an allusion to the sonnet "The Next War" by Wilfred Owen—perhaps the archetypal heroic poet of the First World War—and employs it to help show what has happened to heroism, human bonding, and love in the contemporary world.
How to Cite: Berger, R.A., (1987). Death Was No Enemy: A Note on Thomas Pynchon, Wilfred Owen, and The First World War. Pynchon Notes. (20-21), pp.105–108. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/pn.338
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Published on 22 Sep 1987.
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