Academic journal article Pynchon Notes

Response to Carol Schaechterle Loranger

Academic journal article Pynchon Notes

Response to Carol Schaechterle Loranger

Article excerpt

If the Companion's annotation of GR 13:30-31 so "effectively closes off the passage by marking it as monologic character description," then our fellow "inky drudge" wouldn't have annotated the annotation, right? Wrong: because this essay hunts bigger game-literary critical "terrorism" and the always awful "totalizing reading of Gravity's Rainbow."

First things first. What we have here is a marvelous investigation of an obvious anachronism in a fairly minor offhand reference Pynchon's narrator, focalizing through Pirate Prentice, makes. Loranger's paragraphs supply a likelier referent and speculate on reasons for this error, as well as somersault through a remarkable if iffy set of textual hyperlinks to arrive at a reading that is nevertheless compelling. She wonders: Is GR complicit, in its poetics, with the politics of American domination that the novel's authoritative voices otherwise condemn? Great question! Thus this paper shows how mighty oaks are from tiny acorns grown and that Close Reading still has jobs to do.

Howsoever, researching and writing the Companion, one also had a job to complete, lest the vita list it as an eternal work-in-progress-the result, certainly, had one hunted every item so doggedly as this paper so splendidly does. But one recognized those practical limits on inquiry, announced them in the introduction, and more or less invited other solid scholars to dig in. They have. In the decade since the Companion made its debut, well over a hundred readers, many of them non-academicians (attorneys, computer technicians, engineers, retirees), have kindly corrected my errors, supplied things identified as "Source unknown," and suggested alternative sources for some items. The mailperson still delivers these things, right out of the blue, or they crop up in scholarly essays like Loranger's. Eventually, perhaps as a Y2K offering, look for a revised 2nd edition that incorporates all this stuff and thanks all you good people.

Now back to this thing about Terrorist Totalizers. One hardly cares about being set up as straw man in somebody's effort to muscle a reading of a novel onto the table. Who hasn't done it (in the spirit of critical dialogue)? Sitting here, though, I'm trying hard to figure out how, which is to say, in what possible worlds of discourse, the Companion's work compares to the conspirings of some Taliban-like terrorist cell wanting to dominate all thought? …

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