Reading: Pynchon, V., and The French Surrealists

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Pynchon, V., and The French Surrealists

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Michael W. Vella

Universite de Nancy II
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Abstract

It is appropriate to suggest connections between Pynchon and French surrealism for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Pynchon himself points us in that direction in his "Introduction" to Slow Learner. There, Pynchon reminisces about his student days in an elective art history class where what most impressed him was surrealism. After admitting what we might call a "shock of recognition," Pynchon says that as an apprentice writer he tried to apply surrealistic techniques--chiefly that of assemblage--in his early stories. This passage in his "Introduction" evidences Pynchon's early commitment to surrealist techniques, but more to the point are his self-criticisms for not quite having "done it right" (he accuses himself of misunderstanding assemblage and of not having had enough access to his dream life); for such reflections made more than twenty years after the fact can be construed as at least a residual belief in the legitimacy of the surrealist aesthetic. The title he gave to his collection of early stories, Slow Learner, suggests as much.
How to Cite: Vella, M.W., (1986). Pynchon, V., and The French Surrealists. Pynchon Notes. (18-19), pp.29–38. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/pn.348
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Published on 22 Sep 1986.
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