Reading: De-faced America: The Great Gatsby and The Crying of Lot 49

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De-faced America: The Great Gatsby and The Crying of Lot 49

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Charles Baxter

Wayne State University
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Abstract

In recent history, the acceleration of radical change has been so great that it has become ever harder to create intelligible links between oneself and the past. Extremely rapid change implies a series of breaks in historical sequence; episodes of contemporary life seem anomalous, lacking a past against which to measure them, and every event seems a crisis. The victim (or perpetrator) of such radical change can try to wipe out the past and to deny it, in which case the repressed elements torture themselves into potential neurosis. Alternatively, one can analyze the past, searching for key elements with which to explain change, in which case prolonged retrospection invades and shapes--according to the patterns of the past--the "new" present that had been so fervently craved.
How to Cite: Baxter, C., (1981). De-faced America: The Great Gatsby and The Crying of Lot 49. Pynchon Notes. (7), pp.22–37. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/pn.469
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Published on 01 Oct 1981.
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