Principles of Thomas Pynchon's literary realities

Ira A Walker, University of Texas at El Paso


Thomas Pynchon's literature is unique in subject and style. Postmodern by definition, Pynchon illustrates physics as a societal metaphor; Guy Debord's text The Society of the Spectacle suggests that these societal, literary, metaphors constitute and/or lead to a Spectacle. Through the analysis of an unpublished text: Minstrel Island, an early written short story: “Entropy,” and a short novel: The Crying of Lot 49 the reader is capable of seeing a developing theme of physics as metaphor constituting multiple Spectacles. The narrative devices offered by Thomas Pynchon become Spectacular in nature and reflect the characteristics and environment of the tumultuous 1960s American culture. Although, Pynchon does not make any comment about the 60s counter-culture which surrounded him, elements of that time are evident and, within socio-historical contexts, influence the subject matter of the text. The thread which runs through all three texts uniquely defines Pynchon's literature as Postmodern with the parameters of natural law—using Entropy, the heteroglossic narratives become Spectacle. This thread also explores the possibility of “The Condition of the More Probable” and a Postmodern heat-death. For the characters of Pynchon's texts, as well for the reader, those who experience a metaphorical heat-death, those characters and individuals, then, experience a literary Postmodern condition. ^

Subject Area

Literature, American

Recommended Citation

Walker, Ira A, "Principles of Thomas Pynchon's literary realities" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1503805.