List of episodes in Against the Day

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The following is a list of episodes in Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day. The pagination is the USA/Penguin paperback edition, which is the same as the first hardback edition.[1]


One: The Light Over the Ranges[edit]

Episode 1 (Pages 2-9)[edit]

The Chums of Chance, the five-member crew of the hydrogen skyship Inconvenience sails for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Composing the crew are Randolph St. Cosmo, the ship commander; Darby Suckling, the "baby" of the crew who serves as both factotum and mascot; Lindsay Noseworth, second-in-command and Master-at-Arms; Miles Blundell, the Handyman Apprentice; and Chick Counterfly, the newest member of the crew. Also present is Pugnax, a literate dog of no particular breed who is reading Henry James's The Princess Casamassima, a book about the rise of World Anarchism.

Episode 2 (Pages 10-20)[edit]

Having almost crashed on landing, the Chums of Chance arrive at the Fair.

Episode 3 (Pages 21-25)[edit]

Lindsay and Miles enter the World's Fair through an alternative gate and are immediately confronted by the spectacle of unsavory acts and exhibits on the fringe of the Fair. Miles, in an act of divination, wins ten dollars at a game of three-card monte.

Meanwhile, Randolph St. Cosmo agrees to contract the services of the Chums of Chance and the Inconvenience to the White City Detectives for the purposes of surveillance.

Episode 4 (Pages 26-35)[edit]

The Chums meet a photographer (Merle Rideout) and his fully attired model (Chevrolette McAdoo), who seems to have just stepped out of a ladies' magazine. The Chums also meet Professor Heino Vanderjuice of Yale, who will be seen bargaining with an evil force that is widely celebrated mogul Scarsdale Vibe. On Vibe's way to the lobby, an elderly woman, respectably though not sumptuously dressed, approached him, crying,

"If I were your mother I would have strangled you in your cradle."

Episode 5 (Pages 36-44)[edit]

Lew Basnight, who wasn't sure what anarchists are, is recruited by the Chums.

Episode 6 (Pages 45-56)[edit]

Lew, in his work for White City Investigations, guards Archduke Franz Ferdinand at the fair.

Episode 7 (Pages 57-80)[edit]

Merle Rideout's history with Dahlia. Merle and Dally drift from town to town, and Merle's talents for photography and alchemy emerge. Webb Traverse is introduced by meeting with Merle. They discuss the equivalent of the Philosopher's Stone for explosives.

Episode 8 (Pages 81-96)[edit]

On the Fourth of July, Webb and his vodka drinking Finnish friend Veikko set to blow up a railway bridge in Colorado. Veikko isn't a fan of the Russian Tsar's regime compares it to American capitalism. Webb dislikes the treatment of the mine workers and originally plans to blow up a passing train, hoping to kill a mine manager or two.

Episode 9 (Pages 97-106)[edit]

Kit Traverse is in Colorado Springs working for Dr. Tesla on one of his latest projects. Kit and his sidekick Jack Gigg meet Foley Walker who persuades Kit to attend Yale with full funding provided by Scarsdale Vibe. We find out that Walker was paid to replace Vibe in the Civil War conscription and was shot and wounded. (The bullet lodged in his brain receives long-range communications, allowing him to advise Scarsdale on investments.) Foley and Scarsdale later became friends and are known as 'The Twin Vibes'.

Episode 10 (Pages 107-118)[edit]

Now 1899, the Chums receive a telephone call with instructions to head southwest and await course correction via the airship's new Tesla device (or radio). The Inconvenience sails over several unknown and sparsely populated islands, where work details can be observed from the deck, until finally setting down on an island called St. Masque, the last island where they could take on perishable supplies. The Chums receive their assignment from extended radio communiques, arriving at a volcano antipodal to Colorado Springs, to observe what would happen there during Dr. Tesla's experiments in Colorado. Waiting for the experiment, the Chums begin a quarrelsome debate over what the replacement figurehead should be (having lost their previous one of President McKinley's head in a collision with a Chicago skyscraper). On the eve of the Fourth of July the Chums are treated to a mandatory fireworks display, after which Tesla's experiment commences. After the boys make their observations, they get ready to leave, resolving the figurehead dispute in the meantime, finally settling on a "draped female personage, perhaps more maternal than erotic." Noseworth reminds them that they should all learn a lesson from the dispute, namely to develop protocols against secularity.

The Upper Hierarchy sends a new assignment to the Chums through a "Special Japanese Oyster" (which uses crystals of Iceland spar to separate rays of light into "ordinary" and "extraordinary" beams). The message told them to intercept the schooner Étienne-Louis Malus and attempt to persuade its commander to abandon their expedition, led by Dr. Alden Vormance. To reach the ship quickly, the Chums traverse the hollow Earth, entering into a portal in Antarctica. While nearing the Northern exit point, they receive a distress signal from the indigenous population, wearing blue pointed hats, claiming to be under attack by a horde of hostile gnomes. The Chums stay for a day and a night. Helping to fight against the Legion of Gnomes and narrowly escape through the ever-shrinking Northern portal.

Two: Iceland Spar[edit]

Episode 1 (pages 121-137)[edit]

The Chums encounter their Russian counterparts, the Tovarishchi Slutchainyi, in their vessel, the Bol'shaia Igra, captained by Igor Padzhitnoff, who says a Zone of Emergency has been declared in the area. Despite the Russian's warning about a mysterious, unnamed and dangerous creature in the Zone, the Chums continue to chase the Etienne-Louis Malus, after just missing the schooner at Ísafjörður. The narrator tells of Adam of Bremen, who related the story of Ginnungagap, the lightless primordial void. Hunter Penhallow, heir to the Iceland spar fortune of his forebears, plans to stow away on the Malus, but heads south instead in another vessel. In the Hotel Borealis, the Expedition Headquarters, Dr. Vormance and his companions argue Quaternionist theory and time through the night. Among the guests on board is Fleetwood Vibe, the son of Scarsdale, who has bankrolled the expedition. His son is on board to keep tabs on expenditures.

Episode 2 (pages 138-148)[edit]

Fleetwood Vibe recalls a meeting with the Chums, who having inspected a mysterious object recovered by Vormance and his crew from the lee of a nunatak, warn them of its danger. Fleetwood, Vormance and others of the Expedition are given a tour of the control cabin of the Inconvenience, which is full of scientific gear including Manganin resistance-boxes, a Tesla coil, a Poulsen's Telegraphone and more. The Malus sails to a 'great city' in the south, perhaps New York, with the object on board. Vibe disembarks and tries to leave for Washington D.C., but can't because thanks to the object, the city is being "brought to sorrow and ruin."

Episode 3 (pages 149-155)[edit]

The great city is in chaos when the Chums arrive, having failed in an attempt to intercept the Malus. The people have erected structures to propitiate the "Destroyer." Hunter Penhallow appears, lost in the distorted grid of city streets. He stumbles upon others readying to escape the city and follows them out on a curious underground conveyance.

Episode 4 (pages 156-170)[edit]

Kit Traverse goes to the Yale-Harvard football game, where he meets Scarsdale Vibe for the first time. We learn about Kit's time at Yale so far, including his friendship with Colfax Vibe, a pleasant Rooseveltian type. Kit also meets Mrs. Edwarda Vibe, Scarsdale's wife; Scarsdale's brother R. Wilshire, and Cousin Dittany Vibe, with whom Kit has sex. We learn about the family's history, including Fleetwood Vibe's time in Africa. Vibe has a low opinion of the "crock of cucumbers" he has sired and intimates that Kit might have a place in the old man's heart.

Episode 5 (pages 171-188)[edit]

Lew Basnight in Colorado. He fears that he's being followed by the Kieselguhr Kid, a notorious dynamiter, who Basnight is meant to be tracking down. He hears many stories about the Kid, none of them particularly trustworthy. We flashback to his time in Chicago, where he started to feel that a battle for his soul was taking place between the Union men and the 'Powers.' He meets Nate Privett in the Anarchist saloon, and figures out that the Kid he's meant to be chasing doesn't exist. The following night Basnight starts associating with anarchists, and gets hooked on a dynamite-derived hallucinogen. He almost dies in an explosion, but is rescued by two England dandies, Nigel and Neville, who decide to take him to England.

Episode 6 (pages 189-198)[edit]

Webb Traverse has become shift boss at the mine. But Lake is prostituting herself on the weekends; when he confronts her about it, she leaves home. Feeling the loss, Webb throws himself into the Union, whose members suggest he move to a different mine. There he meets Deuce Kindred, who works with his sidekick Sloat Fresno for mine-owners. They abduct Webb and intend to take him to Jeshimon.

Episode 7 (pages 199-208)[edit]

Frank and Reef Traverse go to Nevada. At Nochecita they meet Estrella 'Stray' Briggs, Reef's lover, with whom he's had a fight. They party with townsfolk. Then Reef gets a phone call from Jimmy Drop, to say that Webb's been taken by Deuce. Reef tries to convince Frank to look after Mayva and Lake while he goes out for revenge. They travel towards Jeshimon together.

Episode 8 (pages 209-218)[edit]

Reef goes to Jeshimon,[2] a Utah town of evil-doers and priests, under the martial rule of The Governor. Reef finds Webb atop a "tower of silence," and takes him down under the eyes of Deuce and Sloat, who run off. He returns to Telluride with Webb's corpse. On the road he reads 'The Chums fo Chance at the Ends of the Earth,' a story about the Chums in the Arctic, which he finds strangely real. Webb's corpse starts speaking to him. The Traverse family buries Webb; Frank and Reef will "what Joe Hill calls organize." Mayva gives the boys Webb's old pistol, but they leave it for her. Reef returns to Nochecita, where Stray gives birth to a baby boy. Reef will take on his father's dynamiting trade, which means lying to Stray about what he gets up to when he disappears for days at a time...

Episode 9 (pages 219-232)[edit]

Neville, Nigel and Lew make it to England, where it turns out that Neville and Nigel are members of True Worshipers of the Ineffable Tetractys (T.W.I.T.).[3] Lew becomes a postulant in the order and meets the Grand Cohen of the London Chapter of T.W.I.T., Nicholas Nookshaft and Tzaddik Yashmeen Halfcourt. They have a complicated mystical system and explanation for evil, based on the Tarot, none of which Lew entirely buys into: there are 22 people in the world who are committing some sort of "ongoing Transgression... the invasion of Time into a timeless world." Later, Madame Natalia Eskimoff gives a spiritualist sitting, in which she listens in on various geopolitical intrigues to do with the rights to railways in the Ottoman Empire. It turns out that Madame Eskimoff was once a member of the 22, and now works against them.

Episode 10 (pages 233-242)[edit]

Lew misses his dynamite-derived hallucinogen and asks Neville and Nigel to procure him something similar. They proceed to take a lot of drugs. They meet Dr. Coombs De Bottle, who is working on explosives in the interests of saving anarchists' lives. Madame Eskimoff predicts that the British will regain the Ashes the following year, provided they select Bosanquet. Lew goes to Cambridge with The Cohen to meet one of the 22, Professor Renfrew, who asks Lew to track down an anarchist bombing cricket player. He then tells him that the German Professor Werfner (another of the 22) has been following the laying of railways. Lew tells The Cohen that Renfrew offered him a job, and has therefore become a double agent.

Episode 11 (pages 243-259)[edit]

The Chums of Chance are in Venice. They are to follow the Sfinciuno Itinerary, a map of routes into Asia, one of which possibly leads - not via the usual geographical routes - to Shambhala. The itinerary is encoded by a 'paramorphoscope' made of Iceland Spar, and can possibly be decoded using devices found at the underwater Isle of Mirrors. Miles relives St Mark's vision "in reverse." Chick Counterfly meets a young woman who reads his Tarot cards, and predicts that the Campanile will fall. They run into the Russian airmen again, and engage in battle, in the course of which the Campanile does, in fact, fall. The two air-crews blame each other, then discuss the 'Manchurian Question;' Chick points out that the Russian captain Padzhitnoff refused to talk about the Trans-Siberian railroad.

Episode 12 (pages 260-272)[edit]

Deuce and Sloat are eating at Curly Dee's road ranch, where Lake is working. Deuce and Lake flirt; Mayva tries to put a stop to it, but fails. Deuce asks Lake to marry him, and she runs off with him, much to Sloat's incomprehension. Lake and Deuce do get married; soon the three of them are carrying out a range of sexual fantasies. Despite Webb's death, the "dynamite outrages continue," and the mine company representatives think Deuce and Sloat might have failed to kill him after all; they might be trying to kill Deuce for that failure. Sloat abandons them.

Episode 13 (pages 273-280)[edit]

Frank wanders the country, and starts to suspect that people are looking for him. He asks about Webb's death, and starts to suspect that Vibe Corp. is behind it. He goes to Leadville, where people are trying to turn mounds of slag into something valuable. He meets an anthropologist called Wren Provenance there; he takes her to a house of ill repute, which she very much enjoys for anthropological purposes. The prostitutes there ruin her "for everyday bourgeois sexuality." She has theories about Aztlan, the mythical home of the Mexican people, which are vaguely apocalyptic. At a bar Frank learns that Bulkley Wells is looking for him. Reef was last seen in Glenwood Springs, so Frank takes it upon himself to follow up on the Wells lead. Wren decides not to go with him.

Episode 14 (pages 281-295)[edit]

Frank arrives in Telluride. He goes to see Ellmore Disco, who runs a kind of proto-department store in town, and might be able to get Frank an interview with Cap'n Bulkley Wells. Ellmore says he'll need to go through Bob Meldrum to get to him, and asks why he wants to see Wells. Frank says he has a new system for concentrating gold ore by use of magnetism; Disco is skeptical. They wander the town and see 'La Blanca,' Meldrum's wife. Finally Frank goes to bed, but is woken by the slightly deaf Bob Meldrum threatening him, and accusing him of sleeping with La Blanca. Frank sets the record straight, and tries to set up a meeting with Wells. He pitches his new magnetic system to Merle Rideout (just passing by); Merle is skeptical, but agrees to set up the meeting. The Japanese trade delegation happens by the bar, and their mania for taking photographs precipitates a brawl; then they ask about the spirit of the west. Merle suggests that American has no 'national soul.'

Episode 15 (pages 296-317)[edit]

Frank heads out to Little Hellkite mine to meet with Merle, who isn't there. Frank looks into the mines, where Dahlia Rideout is working, and sees duendes.[4] They meet once Merle returns; he knows Frank is Webb's son, and warns him off Wells, but shows him a photo of Deuce and Sloat. Bob Meldrum comes to the mine, and Dahlia helps Frank escape via a mine tunnel. They go to the Gallows Frame saloon. We learn about Dahlia's unconventional upbringing, in a whorehouse. Frank goes to stay at the Silver Orchid to avoid Bob. Merle finds him there and tries to sell him on a method for turning silver into gold, which involves Iceland Spar; he shows him an example of it. This 'Emmens process' could reduce the price of gold dramatically, in theory. Merle says Emmens has been selling transmuted gold to the U.S. Mint since 1897. They go back to the mines and see duendes playing poker and pool; these little people have been stealing dynamite and detonator caps. Frank meets Doc Turnstone, who had his heart broken by Lake... and tells Frank that she's run off with Deuce. He suggests Frank go see Jimmy Drop about this, who explains as best he can what happened. Back at the Gallows Frame, Ellmore helps Frank make an escape by joining a group of itinerant musicians. Frank talks to Webb's ghost. Dahlia is leaving too, to look for her mother in New York City.

Episode 16 (pages 318-335)[edit]

Kit gets a letter from Lake letting him know that Webb is dead; it had been opened before he got it and he suspects the Vibes. Professor Vanderjuice tells Kit that he, too, was hired by the Vibes, but came to feel uncomfortable about it, not to mention that they were dangerous. He suggests that Kit should go to Germany to work with Minkowski and Hilbert. Kit and Colfax boat out to an island to look at a tower Tesla has been building, but get caught in a storm. They stay the night on the island and hitch a ride back to New York the next morning, and Colfax tells Kit that the Vibe interest knows how unhappy he is. Kit tells Scarsdale that he wants to go to Germany. After he leaves the office, Scarsdale and Foley discuss their crusade against the "abscesses suppurating in the body of our Republic," concluding that they should smite the lot of them. But Scarsdale can't bring himself to kill Kit, and they come up with a different plan: stipend for Mayva and Lake, a job for Frank, a modest jackpot for Reef. But doubts remain.

Episode 17 (pages 336-357)[edit]

Dahliah takes the train east, and ends up taking a job as an actress in the white-slave simulation industry in New York's Chinatown. She moves in with Katie and then gets a contract with a talent scout of sorts: R. Wilshire Vibe. When she goes shopping with Katie, she sees her mother. Dally and Katie go to a ball at R. W. Vibe's townhouse. A magician maneuvers Dally into the cabinet of mystery, and next thing she knows she's in front of her rooming house. She goes to the Zombini residence to see her mother and the rest of the family, who are trained as magicians. She discusses magic with Zombini, who seems to have 'sawed' people using Iceland spar, so that two individuals are walking around. But he can't work out how to unify them again. To fix it he needs to go to the Island of Mirrors in Venice; the whole family is going to Venice. Erlys tells Dally that Merle wasn't her father.

Episode 18 (pages 358-373)[edit]

Mayva meets Stray in Durango; the next day Stray and Reef headed to Arizona. It turns out that Reef has taken up the family business of outlawry. He goes to look for Frank in Denver, supposedly, and gets caught in an avalanche, which was probably caused by somebody hunting him. Reef and Stray separate, and he takes on the identity of "East Coast nerve case Thrapston Cheesely III," traveling with a touring Englishwoman. He separates from her and meets up with an Irishman looking for the Kieselguhr Kid. He's one of a crew of anarchists.

Episode 19 (pages 374-396)[edit]

Frank traipses around for months, and meets up with Ewball Oust. They go to Mexico looking for Iceland spar. Frank does amalgamation work at a mine, then the two of them are thrown in some sort of prison, but manage to escape with an anarchist crew headed by El Nato. They want to steal silver from the Mexican Mint, but Frank talks them out of it. Soldiers are chasing them; the anarchists ride on but Frank stays behind with a group of Tarahumares, who feed him peyote. They split up and Frank rides north, finding Sloat Fresno in the process. He shoots him dead.

Episode 20 (pages 397-405)[edit]

The Chums of Chance set up camp in Central Park. Chick and Darby track down Dr. Zoot, who claims to have a time machine—somewhere near where Hunter was translocated in Episode 3--and they 'travel' in it, perhaps getting a vision of world war I. Zoot tells them he got the machine at Candlebrow U., from Alonzo Meatman.

Episode 21 (pages 406-428)[edit]

The Chums of Chance go to a conference at Candlebrow University. They go to a municipal dump, filled with failed time machines, none of which look like Zoot's. They go looking for Meatman, but fail to find him; Chick stays behind in the bar when they leave, and Meatman reveals himself. He takes Chick to meet a group of time travelers from the future, "a time of worldwide famine, exhausted fuel supplies, terminal poverty—the end of the capitalistic experiment," who tell him that the Chums' missions are intended to prevent them from entering our time-regime. They offer Chick eternal youth if he'll help them. The other chums are skeptical. Miles accompanies Chick on his next visit to the future people, and says he has seen their leader, Mr. Ace, in a vision. Miles is concerned that someone is double-crossing the Chums. Once they all learn that they can grow old, though, they get scared, some go over to the 'Trespassers.' The group of Chums we've been following immerse themselves at Candlebrow U. as a harmonica band. After some time, they come to their senses and return to the 'Inconvenience'; Meatman takes them a copy of the map they'd been searching for in Venice. It will require them to travel beneath the sand.

Three: Bilocations[edit]

Episode 1 (pages 431-448)[edit]

Following up on rumors of an "escape nook to Asia," the Chums travel ‘into the sands of the Inner Asian desert’ in search of Shambhala aboard the ‘subdesertine frigate Saksaul’, whose crew, ‘The Viscosity Gang’, is led by Captain Toadflax. Navigation is handled by Stilton Gaspereaux, ‘a civilian passenger… who prove[s] to be a scholarly adventurer in the Inner Asian tradition’. Chick and Randolph become aware of a broader ‘plot’ afoot in the region—that of oil prospecting. Chick finds it ‘distressing’ that ‘once again [they] are being used to further someone’s hidden plans'; Randolph becomes ‘obsessed, recklessly so’, by the Saksaul's logbooks’ other (monetary rather than sublime) plot potential. Having returned the Chums to the Inconvenience, ‘H. M. S. F. Saksaul [comes] to grief’, attacked by an unknown force, ‘the copy of the Sfinciuno Itinerary which the Chums in their innocence had brought aboard [having] led the Saksaul into ambush and disaster’. Gaspereaux is ordered by Toadflax to escape to London, which he does under protest. He appears in London in disguise, contriving his arrest in order to meet with Inspector Sands, whom he warns that Shambhala has been located but is under increasing threat of ‘sustained conflict over possession… in regimental strength if not larger’.

Episode 2 (pages 449-459)[edit]

Following Dally's departure for New York, Merle heads back east, though ‘only as far as he [has] to’. Arriving in Audacity, Iowa, Merle briefly works at DREAMTIME MOVY, the town's ‘moving-picture house’; he reflects on the relationship of light and time.

Merle arrives in Candlebrow, whose university is hosting a conference on Time, at which Vectorists and Quaternionists dispute time's linearity. The university is frequented by ‘undisputably always the same tornado’ named Thorvald, who is apparently sentient.

Bounce Roswell arrives, via the Inconvenience. He is an inventor known for taking on Scarsdale Vibe in court over intellectual property. Roswell is heading to California in pursuit of ‘the future of light… in particular the moving pictures’. Roswell laments film's indebtedness to linear time, referring to feature films as ‘clock movies’; he and Merle fall into partnership.

German mathematician Hermann Minkowski visits the university. Bounce and Merle do not understand his lecture, delivered in German, but speculate that Minkowski's workings confirm their respective theses on light and time.

Episode 3 (pages 460-471)[edit]

Frank, ‘or the spur line of his destiny’, gravitates toward Nochecita, where Linnet Dawes directs him to Fickle Creek, on the outskirts of which she informs him Stray is living with Jesse. He finds Stray living above the town's ‘pancake emporium’ with ‘regionally famous… motor outlaw’ Vang Feeley, but she does not recognise Frank.

Returning to Denver, Frank is informed by Reverend Moss Gatlin that Mayva is living in Cripple Creek. He visits her, and she expresses contentment at Frank's murder of Sloat, and discourages him from ‘[feeling] like that you need to give me no happy endings here’ in hunting down Deuce, and, with him, Lake.

Episode 4 (pages 472-488)[edit]

Deuce and Lake move to Wall o’ Death, Missouri, Deuce having been made the town's Deputy in error. While on duty, he receives official report of Sloat's death and sets out for revenge. He returns a week later, despondent, and is haunted by Sloat's ghost. Though the subject is never directly confronted, it becomes ‘clear to [Deuce] that [Lake] knew, and to her that he knew she knew’ about the circumstances of Webb's death; Deuce falls into supplication and the couple try unsuccessfully for a child. When Deuce imitates Webb, Lake assaults him, but stops short of murder.

Episode 5 (pages 489-504)[edit]

At Cambridge, Cyprian Latewood, despite his reputation as ‘a sod’, has fallen in love with Yashmeen Halfcourt, who too ‘prefers, her, own, sex’. Halfcourt obsesses over G. F. B. Riemann's ‘Zeta function’ and sets off to Göttingen to examine his papers. Renfrew takes an interest in Halfcourt, which may owe to her rumoured ‘eastern’ origins, or to Werfner's residence in Göttingen. Cyprian sees Yashmeen off, but the disconsolation he anticipates fails to arrive.

Episode 6 (pages 505-524.)[edit]

Erlys and Dally depart aboard the S.S. Stupendica; Erlys tells her daughter of meeting Merle and Luca. Erlys observes that a Yale mathematician is giving her the eye; this is Kit, who spends his time in fourth class with another mathematician Roots Tubsmith. Kit and Dally meet; she recognises him, while he seems to better remember Katie. She recalls meeting Frank.

The Stupendica lives a bilocated existence as the S.M.S. Emperor Maximilian. While being built in Trieste, the two ships ‘merged’, despite being in two different locations. When the ship comes under apparent attack by torpedo, it metamorphoses from the Stupendica into the Emperor Maximilian. Kit gets trapped in the engine room, becoming the ‘Phantom of the Lower Decks’. The ship reaches Morocco, where Kit comes ashore, being taken on by the crew of fishing trawler Fomalhaut, bound for Ostend. Along the way the trawler is inundated with fish. The Emperor Maximilian arrives safely in its ‘home’, Trieste. Dally wonders what became of Kit.

Episode 7 (pages 525-547)[edit]

In Ostend, Kit comes across a group of Quaternioneers from Trinity, Dublin. He stays with them at the Grand Hôtel de la Nouvelle Digue, where he also encounters a ‘living cell of belgian nihilists’, and Rocco and Pino, who are conducting tests on a manned torpedo, the Siluro Dirigibile a Lenta Corsa. Kit also becomes reacquainted with Roots Tubsmith, and on a trip to the casino they meet Pléiade Lafrisée, whom Kit desires but does not trust. Pléide is liaising with Piet Woevre, a violent member of the Belgian Force Publique who is investigating the Siluro Dirigibile a Lenta Corsa. Pléiade arranges a rendezvous with Kit at the Regional Mayonnaise Works, promising to teach him more about the sauce. Finding the largely automated factory abandoned, Kit is submerged in mayonnaise and nearly drowns. He is rescued by Rocco and Pino, who arrive aboard their torpedo.

Episode 8 (pages 548-556)[edit]

The Inconvenience arrives in Brussels to pay respects at a memorial service for General Boulanger, held every 30 September. The crew is granted ground leave in Ostend, where a convention of Quarterionists-in-exile is underway. Miles meets Ryder Thorne, a Quaternionist he met at Candlebrow, who invites him on a bicycle ride along the road from Ypres to Menin. The two share an interest in the ukulele. Thorne tells him that the Quaternionists know what will happen here. He wants to know what the Chums know of it. Thorne tells him that "Flanders will be the mass grave of History."

Episode 9 (pages 557-567)[edit]

Viktor Mulciber, arms tycoon, discusses the Q-weapon, "a weapon based on Time," with the Quarterioneers. Piet Wovre buys the Q weapon from Edouard Gavaert in Brussels. Kit and Umeki's relationship intensifies. They discuss Hamilton's discovery of the Quaternions. Kit flees with Pino and Rocco to Bruges, where he encounters Wovre. Wovre shoots at Kit and attempts to use the Q-weapon but hands it over to Kit after it backfires. Umeki examines the Q-weapon which contains a crystal "the size of a human eyeball." Kit has a mystical dream about Q-waves. He gives the Q-weapon to Umeki and they part ways.

Episode 10 (pages 568-587)[edit]

Dally feels at home in Venice, where the Zombinis' show is becoming popular. The Zombinis explore their Venetian roots, leading them to Isola degli Specchi, where Luca discusses mirrors and magic with Ettore Sananzolo. Dally decides to stay in Venice while the Zombinis move on. Dally practices magic in Venice and befriends Hunter Penhallow, a painter who might be a time traveler from the future. Penhallow believes there will be a Great War in Europe. Dally runs into Bria Zombini who is visiting Venice. Hunter introduces Dally to his abstract painter friend Andrea Tancredi, whose crazy-inventor talks about Time remind her of Merle.

Episode 11 pages 588- 604)[edit]

Kit, studying at Göttingen, meets Yashmeen. They discuss the Riemann zeta function until being interrupted by Gottlob and Humfried, who discuss Kronecker and Cantor. Yashmeen appears to pass through a wall. The Russian Revolution of 1905 takes place and Kit falls for Yashmeen, who falls for wealthy coffee scion Günther von Quassel. Kit and Günther fight over Yashmeen, agree to duel, but instead argue about mathematics. As a consequence of the Revolutions, Russians flee en masse, many appearing in Göttingen and Yashmeen thinks she recognizes among them an Eastern personage named Chong. Kit and Yashmeen discuss vectors and the zeroes of the zeta function.

Episode 12 (pages 605-614)[edit]

At Chunxton Crescent, Lew Basnight confers with breakfasting Police Inspector Vance Aychrome who suspects one Lamont Replevin of sending encrypted messages through gas lines. Lew heads to the suburb of Stuffed Edge to pursue Replevin who is believed to possess a map of Shambhala. He finds Replevin hanging from the ceiling by one foot, breathing in gas from his oven. Lew pretends to be an insurance salesman and takes pictures of Replevin's map and statues. Replevin discusses the connection between gas, chaos, and Akasha, a Hindu concept analogous to Aether.

Episode 13 (pages 615-636)[edit]

Kit is summoned to the Bank of Prussia where he learns he's been financially cut off from the Vibes. Yashmeen offers to help him find a position with T.W.I.T. Kit encounters Foley Walker, “the angel, if not of death at least of deep shit,” and decides he needs to leave Göttingen soon. He attends a chloral hydrate party and is pursued by Walker until taking refuge in a hospital. Kit is moved to a mental hospital where the patients await the arrival of a Dirigible. At the hospital, Kit meets a patient who pretends to be a Berliner (jelly-doughnut) and is released from the mental hospital.

Lionel Swome, T.W.I.T. travel agent, advises Kit to pretend to elope with Yashmeen to Switzerland. Yashmeen may be at risk as a pawn for Aubron Halfcourt's adversaries. From Switzerland Kit is advised to head to Inner Asia without Yashmeen where he is to help search for information regarding Aubron Halfcourt's whereabouts and any information he may have on Shambhala. Kit, Yashmeen, and Günther visit a mathematics museum and prepare to say farewell.

Episode 14 (pages 637-643)[edit]

Frank and Ewball Oust are dealing war materials in Tampico, Mexico. Frank meets Günther, who is working on his father's coffee plantation. The atmosphere amongst colonial powers is rife with paranoia of a native insurrection. The three attend a party thrown by Ewball's past acquaintance Steve/Ramón. An arms deal between Frank and Günther puts Frank in touch with Wolfe Tone O’Rooney. Frank agrees to help facilitate a weapons deal with former jailmate Dwayne Provecho despite Ewball's protests.

Episode 15 (pages 644-651)[edit]

Frank runs into Stray, and they wonder if Reef is still alive. A violent confrontation nearly breaks out between Frank, Stray, a policeman named Hatch and his pointy-eared companion. Frank is haunted by a dream of trying to open a door with Webb on the other side. Frank and Stray finalize an arms deal and flirt.

Episode 16 (pages 652-660)[edit]

Reef works in Europe drilling tunnels through mountains. The Alpine mountains are believed to be haunted by Tatzelwurms. Rupert Chirpingdon-Groin appears at the mine. After she and Reef sleep together, she invites him to Venice where Scarsdale Vibe is rumored to be buying up Renaissance art. Reef kills a Tatzelwurm and, on the train to Venice, encounters a ghostly presence who urges him to kill Scarsdale Vibe.

Episode 17 (pages 661-677)[edit]

Yashmeen and Kit visits Riemann's grave. Kit and Reef reunite at Sanatorium Böplfi-Spazzoletta. Ruperta entrusts Reef with her dog, Moufeutte, from whom Reef unsuccessfully tries to solicit oral sex. Kit and Reef discuss the possibility of killing Scarsdale Vibe. Madame Natalia Eskimoff, a psychic medium, leads a seance with the brothers. After Eskimoff unconvincingly tries to summon Webb's spirit, a skeptical Reef successfully channels his father. Kit dreams about Webb playing cards and decides to accompany Reef to Venice.

Episode 18 (pages 678-693)[edit]

Lew accompanies Neville and Nigel to the opera where he runs into Max Khäutsch, Renfrew, and Werfner. He learns that Renfrew/Werfner is actually one person with the ability to be in two places at once. Lew studies up on bilocation. Renfrew tells Lew about a mysterious project called “das Interdikt” that Werner plans to build across the Balkan Peninsula. Lew thinks he sees the Gentleman Bomber. He finds Chunxton Crescent largely abandoned and decides to leave T.W.I.T.

Four: Against the Day[edit]

Episode 1 (pages 697-711)[edit]

Opening the fourth section is a chapter devoted to Cyprian Latewood, an Englishman living in Vienna. Cyprian meets two unsavory Russians, Misha and Grisha and gets involved in a weekly S&M gig with “The Colonel”, where he is blindfolded, brought to said Colonel's house and whipped to climax. Cyprian runs into an old friend, Ratty McHugh, who he confides in about his current “situation”, violating Misha and Grisha's instructions to never speak of their arrangement with the Colonel. Ratty agrees to aid Cyprian in his effort to flee Vienna by introducing him to Derrick Theign. Derrick helps Cyprian by giving him the required documents to exit Vienna. Theign eventually relocates Cyprian to Venice where he takes a sexual interest in him and uses him in a vague capacity. The chapter ends with Cyprian relocated once again back to Vienna and scared for his life.

Episode 2 (pages 712-723)[edit]

Cyprian readjusts to life in Vienna and meets some of Theign's acquaintances. He runs into Yashmeen, who is working for a dressmaker and suspects T.W.I.T. secret surveillance. Ratty McHugh interrogates Yashmeen to try to understand why T.W.I.T. deserted Chunxton Crescent. Yashmeen brings Cyprian to orgasm with her foot under a table at a cafe. Theign flies into a rage and is reluctant to help Cyprian make arrangements for Yashmeen to leave Vienna.

Episode 3 (pages 724-747)[edit]

In Venice, Foley Walker and Scarsdale Vibe discuss Kit leaving the Vibe corp and his knowledge of Scarsdale's role in Webb's murder. Meanwhile, Kit and Reef profile Scarsdale and Foley, contemplating assassination. The brothers run into Dally and Penhallow, who seems to have a history with Ruperta Chirpingdon-Groin. Dally notices that her employer, Princess Spongiatostas, seems to have shady business interests with a number of castle visitors including Derrick Theign. Kit tells Dally his plan to flee to Inner Asia after avenging Webb. Dally is eager to help the brothers and introduces them to Andrea Tancredi, who is plotting his own attack on Vibe. Princess Spongiatosta invites Dally to a party that Vibe will also be attending. Tancredi is seen approaching the party and is killed by Vibe's henchmen. Believing he's been spotted by Vibe, Kit leaves Venice. Dally is heartbroken and Reef is disgruntled.

Episode 4 (pages 748-767)[edit]

The section opens with a letter from Yashmeen expressing her disenchantment with T.W.I.T. and desire to transcend tyranny. Kit travels by rail through Inner Asia to the oasis city of Kashgar where Yashmeen's adopted father Auberon lives a life of hotel luxury in the company of a Russian colonel named Yevgeny Prokladka. The Russians discuss a desert prophet known as "The Doorsa." Auberon is approached by Al Mar-Foud, who asks on behalf of the Doorsa that the city be surrendered. After reading Yashmeen's letter (delivered by Kit), Auberon is strongly affected by the thought of her reappearance. Kit agrees to travel eastward with Auberon to establish relations with the Tungusic population in "shamanic Asia." Auberon disappears for a few weeks and returns determined to find Shambhala.

Episode 5 (pages 768-778)[edit]

Kit has an epiphanic reaction to Lake Baikal as Kit and Hassan travel through Tushuk Tash ("the Prophet's Gate"), Kit has a vision of a city in the distance. Kit, Prance, and Hassan travel deeper into Inner Asia, encountering various foreign parties and animals. Hassan disappears, and Kit and Prince meet Auberon's associate Swithin Poundstock, who supplies them with counterfeit coins. Prance explains to Kit his theories about religion.

Episode 6 (pages 779-791)[edit]

"A heavenwide blast of light" -- the Tunguska Event -- occurs. Captain Padzhitnoff and his crew struggle to interpret the cause. Prance becomes hysterical and attributes the explosion to an otherworldly force. Kit wonders if the Tunguska Event could have been caused by the discharge of a Q weapon. In the aftermath of the explosion, people, animals, and the landscape undergo surreal changes. A white reindeer named Ssagan communicates with Kit and Prance and leads them to an area with Tuvan throat singers. Prance is picked up by the Chums of Chance. Kit falls in with a band of Siberian ex-cons and encounters Fleetwood Vibe, who is searching for lost cities. Fleetwood says that Scarsdale is "no longer of sound mind" after his visit to Italy.

Episode 7 (pages 792-805)[edit]

The Chums of Chance witness the Tunguska Event and communicate with Professir Vanderjuice and Padzhitnoff about possible causes. Photographs of the Event emerge and its effects are observed by the books many characters across Europe. Dally is warned by the Princess not to fall into the "mala vita." Cyprian works with a cryptologist named Bevis Moistleigh. Reef is abandoned by Ruperta and hears a voice from the sky telling him to rededicate himself to settling the family vendetta. Yashmeen has a romantic episode with Noellyn Fanshawe, a former schoolmate.

Episode 8 (pages 806-820)[edit]

Austria announces its intention to annex Bosnia. Theign tells Cyprian he's sending him to the Balkans and Cyprian examines a small map of Austria with Bevis. Yashmeen is evicted by her anti-Semitic landlord. Cyprian tells Ratty he's worried about Yashmeen, and arranges for her to go to Trieste. Theign refuses to help Yashmeen and Cyprian insults Theign. In Trieste, Yashmeen and Cyprian kiss as Cyprian heads to the Balkans. Amidst fierce winds, Yashmeen has an abrupt sexual encounter with Cyprian's friend Vlado Clissan. They develop an erotic relationship and visit the island Zengg, where Vlado tells Yashmeen about his Uskok heritage.

Episode 9 (pages 821-848)[edit]

Cyprian takes an Austrian ship to Pola, Croatia to pick up Bevis Moistleigh. Aboard the vessel we are introduced to Jacintha Drulov, a young spy in training whom Bevis is quite smitten with. Bevis, taking a keen interest in Jacintha, teaches her about a spy technique called Applied Idiotics. Cyprian and Bevis eventually disembark in Metkovic, Herzegovina making their way to Serajevo to rendezvous and aid Danilo Ashkil, who has proved valuable for intelligence purposes. In leaving the area, Cyprian runs into Misha and Grisha who harbor no ill feelings towards him and lead him to Colonel Khäutsch, who Cyprian begins stalking but is unable to find. Danilo tells Cyprian he was on a dummy assignment to be captured by the Austrians in Bosnia and that the English no longer have a use for him. This sets him, Bevis and Danilo out on a path to flee their pursuers through some treacherous Balkan terrain. Cyprian and Danilo lose Bevis spurring a fools errand to find him and eventually get trapped on a mountainside in which Danilo injures himself and they both almost die due to winter conditions and tough terrain. Eventually the two make their way to Danilo's hometown of Salonica where his cousin Vesna is overjoyed to see him. Cyprian stays for a while though eventually departs for Trieste. By sheer coincidence Cyprian disembarks before getting to Trieste and runs into Bevis Moistleigh who has been living with Jacintha in Cetinje, Montenegro.

Episode 10 (pages 849-863)[edit]

Reef encounters his old friend Flaco in Nice. As they sit at a cafe, a bomb explodes and Reef sees Kit in a vision. Vlado gives Yashmeen a mysterious book called The Book of the Mask. Reef returns to Venice and runs into Pino, Rocco, and Yashmeen. After a shootout, Pino and Rocco help Reef and Yashmeen escape by towing their boat. Reef masturbates while watching Yashmeen sleep. After they have sex, Yashmeen changes her hair to avoid being recognized. Theign pressures Vlado for information about Yashmeen. Yashmeen and Reef win lots of money gambling. Yashmeen studies the book given to her by Vlado and is amazed.

Episode 11 (pages 864-891)[edit]

Cyprian returns to Italy and looks for Yashmeen. He runs into Ratty McHugh, who sends Cyprian to Ca Spongiatosta to speak with the Princess. When Cyprian finds her not at home, he speaks with the Prince about history and politics. Cyprian encounters Yashmeen and Reef before heading to Trieste to plot revenge with Vlado's cousin and the Uskoks. Cyprian targets Theign in a series of mischievous acts and eventually approaches him with a gun. Theign is apprehended by the Uskoks who take out his eyes with a woodworker's gouge. Cyprian and Yashmeen embark on several bouts of serious S&M sex. The gang travel to an outer island for the Carnesvale festival. Cyprian, Reef, and Yashmeen have a threesome. Cyprian and Reef continue their intimacy and Reef confides in Cyprian about his son. Reef dreams about Webb. The three flee Venice to live among anarchists and end up gambling, running into Wolfe Tone O'Rooney, and arguing. Yashmeen learns she's pregnant.

Episode 12 (pages 892-907)[edit]

In London, Ruperta introduces Dally to Arturo Naunt, a sculptor looking for models for Angel of Death statues. Ruperta has a transformative experience attending a Ralph Vaughan Williams concert with Hunter. Dally begins an acting gig courtesy of R. Wilshire Vibe and is pursued by suitors male and female. She catches the attention of Clive Crouchmas who works for arms dealer Basil Zaharoff. After Dally becomes slightly intimate with Crouchmas, she meets Lew Basnight who asks for her help investigating Crouchmas's shady business dealings. Crouchmas is saddened when he learns that Dally is working against him. He learns from "Doggo" Spokeshave that B. Zaharoff is going to Japan to look into buying the Q weapon. Dally and Lew head to Constantinople.

Episode 13 (pages 908-918)[edit]

Crouchmas sends two henchmen, Imi and Ernö, to abduct Dally, who is saved by the reappearance of Kit. Kit turns out to be fleeing Pera after a scuffle with the Committee of Union and Progress. Kit and Dally escape the train, have sex, and attend an operetta, "The Burgher King." They consider heading to London and continually get intimate.

Episode 14 (pages 919-930)[edit]

Frank is being treated for a gunshot wound in a church in Chihuahua. He sees the Indian shaman El Espinero, Estrella, and Ewball Oust, who discusses anarchy and vengeance. Frank trips off of a psychedelic cactus given to him by El Espinero. Stray and Ewball leave together, and as Frank recovers, he and Wren Provenance become intimate. The couple investigates an Aztec ruin and contemplate the destruction of sacred ways of life. Frank works for and consults with El Espinero. Wren leaves for Harvard.

Episode 15 (pages 931-975)[edit]

At an anarchist spa, Cyprian, Yashmeen, and Reef run into Ratty McHugh, who has abandoned government work for communal life with his wife Jenny and their companion Sophrosyne Hawkes. With Coombs De Bottle, they examine a mysterious map given by Renfrew that seems to forecast major historical change. Cyprian reluctantly agrees to accompany Ratty to the Balkans to investigate groups who are scared of strange musical modes. Yashmeen and Reef accompany Cyprian to the Balkan Peninsula and they continue their sexual adventures aboard the train en route. The trio breaks away from the musical expedition to find Das Interdikt. At Gabrovo Slim's farm, Yashmeen gives birth to a girl, Ljubica. Reef and Cyprian, guided by R.U.S.H. cyclist Mihaly Vamos, are troubled to learn the Interdikt is part of a shady project to create a light weapon. The group finds a rock archway that locals say has special powers. After stumbling on a convent with roots in Greek mysticism, Cyprian decides to devote himself to a life of spirituality.

Reef, Yashmeen, and Ljubica head west as war breaks out. In Albania, Reef is nearly killed by three rifleman but saved at the last minute by Ramiz. After coming to safety in the town of Corfy, Yashmeen and Reef run into Auberon Halfcourt, who is now dating Umeki.

Episode 16 (pages 976-981)[edit]

Ewball takes Stray to Denver to meet his parents. Ewball Sr. attacks his son, and Mayva Traverse intervenes. Mayva and Stray talk about Frank.

Episode 17 (pages 982-999)[edit]

Frank has joined the revolutionary forces in Mexico. After helping dynamite, he decides to head back to the U.S. soon. In the meantime, he works with his old friend Günther von Quassel on coffee bean processing machines. Frank spends time with Melpomene, a possibly telepathic girl who shows Frank a powerful species of glowing beetles. The political situation in Mexico worsens and Frank has a flashback to his cactus hallucination. In Denver, Frank happens to run into Dr. Willis Turnstone, who takes him to a Chinese acupuncturist named Dr. Zhao. Here Frank sees Wren who tells Frank where to find Stray. In pursuit, Frank runs into Ewball who says Mayva is close by.

Episode 18 (pages 1000-1017)[edit]

Scarsdale Vibe encounters a strange malignant being on his private train. In Trinidad, Colorado, Frank and Ewball attempt to kill Scarsdale and Foley, but are undermined when Foley kills Scarsdale. Stray flees Trinidad to a strikers camp where she finds her son Jesse, who becomes interested in firearms and begins sneaking out at night. Frank arrives and helps fight forces hostile to the strikers and bonds with Stray and Jesse before he departs emotionally.

Episode 19 (pages 1018-1039)[edit]

The Chums of Chance attempt to take the Inconvenience into a massive Saharan updraft and end up on Antichthon, a counter-earth. They're approached by a shadowy Russian agent who asks them to help find Padzhitnoff, who has gone missing. The Chums become dimly aware of World War I and encounter Padzhitnoff and his crew in French airspace. The two ships head to Geneva where the crews help move goods and people over to the Swiss border. After Armistice is declared, the boys receive a lucrative offer for work in California and bid goodbye to Padzhinoff. Heading west, they meet their female counterparts, the Sodality of Aethernauts. The Chums land in L.A. to find their job a dead end. Chick runs into his father "Dick" who operates an early film projector. "Dick" and Chick visit Merle Rideout and Roswell Bounce, who are working to reanimate photographs and seek the protection of Lew Basnight.

Episode 20 (pages 1040-1062)[edit]

Lew Basnight, now in L.A., is contacted by Chester Le Street to investigate a night club singer named Jardine Maraca. Lew heads to a hotel, the Royal Jacaranda, and calls in his friend Emilio, a toilet gazer, who gets bad vibes. Merle contacts Lew and, in a pre-War flashback, spends time with the Zombinis in Santa Barbara. Roswell and Merle ask for Lew's help and show him their photo reanimation techniques. Lew examines a photo of Jardine Maraca. Following a lead from Emilio, he meets Lake at her home. After they have sex, Deuce arrives and threatens Lew, who is rescued by his secretary. Deuce is arrested after waking up next to a corpse after a party. Lew finds Jardine Maraca, who tells him Deuce will get the death penalty. Lew reanimates a picture of Troth to see how she would've grown old, and Merle uses the machine to see Dally in the present living in Paris.

Five: Rue du Départ[edit]

Episode 1 (pages 1065-1085)[edit]

We learn that Dally has separated from Kit and married Clive Crouchmas. Kit spends time with his friend Renzo, who enjoys dive bombing with his plane. Reef, Yashmeen and Ljubica head to the U.S. and pose as Italian immigrants. In Montana, they run into Frank, Stray, and Jesse. Kit discusses mathematical and logical mysteries in Lwow. Professor Vanderjuice appears and then disappears. The book ends with a description of the expanding operations on board the Inconvenience, which grows to city-like proportions and flies toward grace.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pagination Blues". Pynchon Wiki: Against the Day.
  2. ^ Jeshimon is a place name mentioned several times in the Bible, with slightly different spellings. E.g., Numbers 21:20, 1 Samuel 26:1-3, Isaiah 43:20. The versions of the word with various spellings (ישימון ישימן ישימן ישמן ) are collected in Jeshimon, the amazing name.
  3. ^ The T.W.I.T. are "seekers of certitude, of whom there seemed an ever-increasing supply as the century had rushed to its end and through some unthinkable zero and on out the other side, the T.W.I.T. had chosen to follow a secret neo-Pythagorean way of knowledge, based upon the sacred Tectractys." The tetractys (Greek: τετρακτύς), or tetrad, is a triangular figure consisting of ten points arranged in four rows: one, two, three, and four points in each row. It is a Pythagorean mystical symbol.
  4. ^ Mexican elves or goblins. Mexican Mythology: Duendes and Aluxes.