Reading: Pynchon's Age of Reason: Mason & Dixon and America's Rise of Rational Discourse

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Pynchon's Age of Reason: Mason & Dixon and America's Rise of Rational Discourse

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Jason T. McEntee

South Dakota State University
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Abstract

By drawing upon astronomer Charles Mason and surveyor Jeremiah Dixon for the unlikely protagonists of Mason & Dixon (1997), Thomas Pynchon develops a revisionist history of these two Englishmen as they come to terms with America in the so-called Age of Reason, which was informed by a European philosophical movement with its roots in rational discourse aimed at cultural and political intellect that eventually served as the foundation for American independence and democracy. But as Thomas Paine suggests, time wields a stronger power than does reason, and what history calls the Age of Reason may remind one of an ideal time in America when, in theory, rational discourse converted people into better citizens. However, as Mason and Dixon create their Line, recognizing that it will, in effect, divide North from South, they begin to realize that America consumes them with irrational discourse.
How to Cite: McEntee, J.T., (2003). Pynchon's Age of Reason: Mason & Dixon and America's Rise of Rational Discourse. Pynchon Notes. (52-53), pp.185–207. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/pn.59
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Published on 22 Sep 2003.
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