Academic journal article Pynchon Notes

On an Unpublished Introduction to Gravity's Rainbow

Academic journal article Pynchon Notes

On an Unpublished Introduction to Gravity's Rainbow

Article excerpt

The Fall 1995 catalogue of the publisher Alfred A. Knopf included the following item (at the foot of page 73) in its list of new titles in the Everyman's Library series:

Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow. Introduction by Edward Mendelson. ... Fiction * 944 pages, $25.00.... 0-679-43724-X

The story behind this book, and its introduction, is as follows.

Around 1990, Everyman's Library acquired a license from Viking Penguin to publish a new edition of Gravity's Rainbow. All titles in the Everyman's Library series include a newly-written introduction. After consulting with Thomas Pynchon's agent, the American editor of Everyman's Library commissioned me to write the introduction to the new edition. I did so; the text was approved by Mr. Pynchon's agent, and I received full payment for it from Everyman's Library. The novel and introduction were set in type, and the announcement above appeared in the Knopf catalogue distributed in mid-1995.

The edition was never printed, however, because the license granted to Everyman's Library by Viking Penguin was limited to (if I remember correctly) five years. Viking Penguin reminded Everyman's Library that those five years had already passed; Everyman's Library asked for an extension of the license, but Viking Penguin declined. …

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