Talk:Gravity's Rainbow

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Almansi's remarks now obsolete[edit]

Note 4: "piu' importante romanzo americano del secondo dopoguerra, Gravity's Rainbow di Thomas Pynchon (romanzo mai pubblicato in Italia, con grande vergogna dell'editoria nazionale)." This not does not seem to me to add much to the text of the article; above all, it says that GR hasn't been published in Italy which is nowadays totally false; the novel has been translated and published and it is still in print, and easily available in any bookstore in paperback edition (cf. Italian Wikipedia article). The note should be edited out or shortened, as it is misleading.-- (talk) 08:23, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

I've added to the note that the novel was eventually translated and published in 1999. Almansi comment is still significant in showing that it took 26 years for Italian publishig industry to wake up.--Sum (talk) 11:54, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Broken link[edit]

The following link from the bottom of the page is broken:

Essay of similarities between Gravity's Rainbow and Catch-22 (

The site has apparently been reorganized; the link as it stands now functions properly. Anville 14:33, 11 September 2005 (UTC)


Has anyone else noticed how similar GR is to Illuminatus? Both books came out at the same time (I believe GR was first published in 73, and Illuminatus in 75, though the authors of Illuminatus claim it was finished earlier), and explore similar themes. Did one influence the other? Has anyone ever pointed out the similarity of these two books? It seems worth mentioning!-- (talk) 06:21, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

No, no one has noticed the similarity, because they are not similar, and therefore not worth mentioning. 23 Skidoo!!! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:14, 12 July 2008 (UTC)
Illuminatus! alludes to and even explicitly references Pynchon several times, so they were definitely aware of him, but that's not really surprising, as he was a legendary author among counterculture figures. Since the first volume of the trilogy wasn't published until 1975, Pynchon could only be aware of it while writing Gravity's Rainbow if he was a personal friend of folks in the discordian circles, or aware of their self-published, small circulation work. If you could prove that for a certainty, you'd have an academic publication (hooray...) for sure and possibly an entry level research gig. Most likely, though, the similarities are just a marker of how much both texts have the sensibilities of the sixties counterculture that produced them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:55, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

Nirvana References[edit]

I took out the Nirvana references. It is well established that, "One night, while hanging out at Cobain's apartment, Vail's Bikini Kill bandmate, Kathleen Hanna, took a can of spray paint and scrawled on the wall, "Kurt smells like Teen Spirit." "( -- This is much more plausible than lifting "spirit" and "contagious" from a passage from Gravity's Rainbow. I think it is much more likely that he is simply rhyming "contagious" with "dangerous" rather than pulling an esoteric reference to spirit and contagious from Gravity's Rainbow. If someone has something better than the Modern Word site (which itself is just speculating it appears), feel free to correct me. I just think this appears to be overreaching more than just a bit.

I also couldn't find anything but speculation on the paranoia reference. If anyone has something other than overzealous fans making a tenuous connection -- let me know. I love Pynchon and Nirvana, I just think this is a case of looking for patterns where none exist.


The novel has an incredible amount of material related to the creation of industry, in particular the plastics industry. It couldn't be closer to the creation of the computer industry, as written. The technical writing in GR could be talked about at length. -- 03:06, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The Simpsons?[edit]

This exchange may have motivated Pynchon to guest-star in two later episodes, both of which preserve (and satirize) his anonymity by animating him with a paper bag over his head.

This reference to Pynchon appearing in The Simpsons appears - at least to me - to be incorrect. The only episode I know of in which Pynchon voices a character is 'Diatribe of a Mad Housewife'. 'Diatribe' was in season 15 but I am unable to find any other episode in which Pynchon appears as a guest star. Does anyone know which other episode Pynchon appears in? Perhaps it's one where he isn't actually voiced or maybe even one where he isn't credited.

Matthew king 03:40, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Never mind... I've found it. Pynchon is also in the episode where Marge gets a new kitchen.
Matthew king 07:44, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Dude, this page isn't about what you know. Get a blog. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:16, 12 July 2008 (UTC)


I am in the middle of GR right now, and am currently reading a section focused on the "tribe suicide" of the Herero. Does anyone know how accurate Pynchon's portrayal of the Herero are?

Also, to the question above, I am fairly certain that Pynchon was indeed in two episodes of 'The Simpsons'. 02:00, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Well, look for Herero on the Wikipedia and you will see how accurate it is. A lot!-- (talk) 08:26, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

Derek Gregory[edit]

Who is Mr Gregory and is his reference justified? (JonathanG 16:11, 7 April 2006 (UTC))

Well there's a page linking to him. He's a leading geographer, professor at Unviersity of British Columbia and formerly at the University of Cambridge; its currently (possibly) the most influential contemporary book in academic geography. Robdurbar 16:43, 7 April 2006 (UTC)


At best, call it postmodern. The ist or ism suffix connotes adherence (however implicit) to a doctrine or school, as opposed to merely falling under just any classification of subject or style.

But furthermore the postmodern is not a genre, not the way the western and science fiction are; a style or a period might be a better term. It's not clear such an assessment can be made with any reasonable objectivity. Perhaps the fact that it is often called "postmodern" ought to be put further on, just not in the first line. This book has also been called modernist.

I'm going to make the first chage--postmodernist to postmodern--and urge that the second also be made.

I'm gonna take out three letters and write one paragraph per letter, because that how this member of the pocket protector brigade rolls!!!! I effing love typing!!!!! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:19, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

Surely any categorisation indicates the adherence you mention and it is nothing to do with the suffix. Saying a book is postmodern means that it can be identified as belonging to the postmodernist tradition. I personally don't see anything wrong with calling the novel postmodernist, but hey, we all have to get along, so I'll agree and make the second change :) Martin Hinks 09:10, 18 October 2006 (UTC)
(Or at least I would if I could see where the second instance is!)
Not a second instance--the second suggested claim was to drop the word "postmodern/postmodernist" from the introductory sentence all together, just preserving it down below. It dtrikes me that it's too much a critical evaluation to be put in such an authoritative position.

No: it's at least similar to, though perhaps not the same as, the difference between calling something "modern" and "modernist" (or the difference between lower-case romantic and upper case Romantic). Not the same, because modernism was a clearly identifiable school, while postmodernism isn't.

But I don't see how you can say that any categorisation indicates such an adherence. I doubt Pynchon would adhere to the (mostly ignorant and confused, I submit) collection of doctrines that go under the name "postmodernism." But whether he does or not has nothing to do with whether his work fits a collection of criteria--which might have nothing to do with doctrinal adherence--for labelling a thing post-modern. That would presumably be the case with authors whose work is--howeverimplausibly--called postmodern when they lived before the term ever came into use. Think here of Rabelais, Cervantes, or Melville being so called, as they on occasion have been.

The difference between modern and modernist is in no way the equivalent of that between postmodern and postmodernist. "Modern" will always mean contemporary or of the present time. Modernism will always be that movement in the first half of the 20th century. "Postmodern" never describes a temporal distinction. "Postmodern" would mean nothing if the movement of "postmodernism" did not exist; whereas "modern" would absolutely still mean what it does with or without modernism. There is no usage of 'postmodern' outside of postmodernism, no matter how much you wish to verbally shy this book away from that movement.
I just noticed where you said they're not the same; but your reasons are all off, if you ask me. One is a movement, one is a time descriptor. Because "postmodern" does, absolutely, denote a movement, saying his book is postmodern but not postmodernist sounds like you're saying something along the lines of: it lived in the era of postmodernism. This is as useless as saying that, oh, say, Tuesdays With Morrie is a "postmodern" novel.
If you're going to go ahead and forgo the finicky shying away, and argue that it's not postmodern at all, you've got a lot of work to do. From what critics say and from my readings of the book it certainly seems postmodernist, among a great many other things, and if this is true it's true regardless of what Pynchon called it.

Chicopac (talk) 23:11, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

p.s. returning after three months, I've since learned that there is actually a temporal designation described by "postmodernity". Interesting, but still doesn't change the point here of the book's designation. Chicopac (talk) 03:15, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
but in what way is Pynchon's book "post-modern"? It seems an inappropriate and innaccurate description, leaving aside whether the term itself, and the trendy social milieu it emanates from, is sophmoric and pretentious.Tom Cod (talk) 16:59, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

"Post–modern" is a vague, ambiguous, meaningless phrase that can be used for effect.Lestrade (talk) 15:43, 2 January 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

The problem with postmodern/postmodernism vis a vis Pynchon is that they're labels applied after the fact. In the first published book of essays on Pynchon (Mindful Pleasures, George Levine and David Leverenz, ed.s), neither term appears anywhere. The characteristics of postmodernism elucidated by Frederic Jameson and David Foster Wallace in their essays on the subject are, briefly, a lack of support for a master narrative, the collapse of distinctions between high and low culture (pushing eclecticism towards pastiche), an overarching and distancing subjective ironism and the lack of belief in the possibility of both originality and artistic greatness. GR partakes of some of this but not all of it. Pynchon is, despite everything, still looking for an alternative master narrative.
So I'd vote to call the book postmodern (because today the term is applied to GR ubiquitously) but would be reluctant to call either Pynchon a consciously "postmodernist" author or Gravity's Rainbow an intentionally "postmodernist" book.

Snardbafulator (talk) 00:45, 9 June 2011 (UTC)

Modernism was a literary trend identified by critics. Post-modernism is a trend in literary criticism applied notably to literatures of all periods.

Macdust (talk) 01:00, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

The following is a reposting of a message on the talk page of one of the restorers of "postmodern." Forgive me if this is a trivial inquiry in the wrong place. I'm just finding my legs in the Wikipedia environment.

The description of Gravity's Rainbow as "postmodern" has become nearly universal among postmodern critics, which is to say they embrace it, but that fact does not make it intrinsically "postmodern" as it is intrinsically picaresque. The term "postmodern" may come to mind soonest, but reflexes are not always accurate.

Its being embraced as postmodern deserves prominent mention, perhaps, but not in an opening line.

In the discussion regarding this article, considerable deliberation has already occurred, and it demonstrates at least that there no authoritative consensus at large designating Gravity Rainbow as postmodern. Indeed, there is no consensus on what the descriptor "postmodern" implies about any literary work that is not literary criticism.

Calling the volume "postmodern" is more than debatable. Doing so subsumes the rich contents to a subset of approaches to reading that engage some but not all the devices and themes, thereby representing the work as less than what it is. Macdust (talk) 16:51, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

An Army of Lovers[edit]

While Pynchon's statement is quoted correctly ("An army of lovers can be beaten"), it's meaning is opposite to the Plato quote ("army of lovers and their beloved who would be invincible if they could be united by such a tie"). Instead of saying Pynchon's line is a reference -from- Plato, it seems more correct to list it as a reference -to- Plato, since Pynchon reverses the sense of Plato's statement. I'll make the change today. Bob Nelson - 19 October 2006

About the band Army of lovers taking their name from this book: Their page seems to mention that "Their name alludes to a documentary about Rosa von Praunheim, which in turn alludes to the Theban Band." It looks like no-one knows exactly where the name comes from. Any sources anyone? (Interviews or similar) --Sideris 05:20, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

I bet you could find something on the internet. Perhaps you've heard of it. What I would suggest is that you take out an ad on for a research assistant and then have that person do a google search. That's the quickest way, for sure. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:23, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

Wiki link[edit]

Perhaps there should be a link to the Pynchon wiki/Gravity's Rainbow wiki somewhere in this article? 20:31, 18 December 2006 (UTC) Scription

Publication date[edit]

Seems odd that the exact date of publication is in the first sentence. I checked a couple of other wiki articles on books and usually the year of publication is mentioned in the first sentence, but who cares about the exact date? (talk) 00:30, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Might be worth retaining though as some critics (Weisenburger in particular) see the novel as taking place in specific timeframes dominated by astrology. Given the metatextuality of the novel its real-world publication date, not just year, may be of relevance. Martin Hinks (talk) 13:48, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Gravitys-Rainbow-722917.jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot (talk) 23:42, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Citing the claim at the article's beginning[edit]

Could somebody, less lazy than myself, find links to support the final sentence of this article's introductory paragraph? Some fools doubted it and posted a weasel word citation, smearing their stain of idiocy upon one of our greatest books, but the sentence is far and beyond true in its every facet. I'm not just saying this as a zealous fan, but an experienced literary reader of articles and follower of critics. So, someone who loves this book as much as I and has more time at the moment, eh? eh? Do us the favor? >:D Chicopac (talk) 22:34, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

Mind your language. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 23:12, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
I'll mind my language when I'm asked to do so by someone who includes the word "please" alongside their dog-style command. Maybe, even, if they're kind enough, the word "please" alongside a human-style request.
p.s. I'll mind it anyway ;) (talk) 22:46, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Simpson's Reference in Against the Day?[edit]

I don't see how the quote from Against The Day makes a reference to Pynchon's Appearance on The Simpsons and even if it did, what relation does that have to Gravity's Rainbow? I suggest this item be removed and if further proof that it is an allusion to the author's appearance on The Simpsons should be made known, then it should be placed in the Thomas Pynchon article and not the Gravity's Rainbow article. Mwbeatty (talk) 09:35, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

What idiot added this marvellously informative little gem?[edit]

Part 1: Beyond the Zero "Part 1: Beyond the Zero" consists of 21 episodes, which corresponds exactly to the number of cards in the Major Arcana of a Tarot deck if the Fool card is not counted or assigned a null value.[9]

Oh dear. This is why most articles, excepting those dealing with computer games, UFO's and the occult should be locked for editing. You just never know when a nerd is going come sloping along and plaster an article with irrelevant pish like this. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:06, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

That's false anyway, it corresponds exactly to the number of fingers you would have if you had four hands and one of those hands had an extra finger...or the number of cards in a normal deck if you didn't count 31 of them...or the number of wheels six normal cars would have if you didn't count 3 of them.

Jelinek translation of Gravity's Rainbow[edit]

Did Elfriede Jelinek translate the entire book or just a few passages?Lestrade (talk) 15:38, 2 January 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

 While one must be understanding towards those who cannot comprehend the dramatically pertinent nature of Gravities Rainbow, one must realize the limitations of the average individual. We cannot expect all to have adequate cognitive resources to process its true nature. This work is of great social, cultural and political significance. So while not everyone can grasps the full implications of the work, all of society can and will benefit from its dissemenation. Ultimately, the mere presence of such a significant work is indicitive of the maturation of our collective virtue. While I cannot presume to grasps the author's complex schema I am grateful that there are many contributors that are willing to share their wealth of understanding.      Notwithstanding the need to adress the dispairity that was prevailant in the era in which we speak  one must not allow the content to become diluted by a tendency to myopically avoid overtly relevant and quiet obvious references to clear issues.  —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:41, 30 March 2011 (UTC) 

Importance assessment for WP Novels[edit]

Giving the regard this book is given for the history of literature, It's clearly to be assessed as top importance.--Sum (talk) 09:17, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

Disappointing article[edit]

It seems to consist of mostly an overly long plot summary and some pop culture references. Dlabtot (talk) 21:24, 18 October 2010 (UTC)

Instead of... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:37, 19 November 2010 (UTC)
see WP:WikiProject_Novels/ArticleTemplate. Dlabtot (talk) 22:58, 19 November 2010 (UTC)

Inaccuracies in the Plot Summary[edit]

This plot summary is stuffed with simple misstatements of fact. I'll do this by memory but with confidence, as a 35-year dedicated Pynhead who's read GR so many times I can recite sections from memory. Nothing I flag will have to do with an alternate interpretation. There are so many inaccuracies that I'll limit myself to correcting the major howlers -- those a-screaming across the page. The summary is hopeless; it needs to be completely rewritten.

"Pirate then goes to work at ACHTUNG, a top-secret military branch, with Roger Mexico and Pointsman, who both worked there at the time."

No. Pirate Prentice works for S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive, aka "The Firm"), which is indeed a top-secret military branch. Tyrone Slothrop and his English friend Tantivy Mucker-Maffick work for ACHTUNG (Allied Clearinghouse, Technical Units, Northern Germany), the "poor man of Allied Intelligence;" their chits to go investigate rocket-bomb incidents are the last ones routed. Prentice is the "big mean mother" Slothrop sees picking up the cylinder from the premature airbust which we later learn contains the message (in Kryptosam invisible ink) to bring the Dutch Resistance double agent Katje Borgesius out of Holland. Pavlovian behaviorist Ned Pointsman does canine experiments at ARF (Abreaction Research Facility) which is housed in the eccentric Whig manor "The White Visitation" along with PISCES (Psychological Intelligence Schemes for Expediting Surrender -- "Whose surrender is not made clear"), the psychic/psychological-warfare collection of spiritualists, paranormal adepts, Pavlovians, Freudians, the statistician Roger Mexico, etc.(and their bizarre retinue) under the nominal leadership of octogenarian Brigardier Ernest Pudding.

"Slothrop meets a woman named Katje, and they fall in love, maintaining a relationship until Slothrop's sudden removal to Germany in part three."

Slothrop and Katje most decidedly do not "fall in love," as it is made quite clear that neither of these characters (for their own reasons) are capable of abandoning themselves to romantic love a la Roger Mexico and Jessica Swanlake, a couple who remain in love until the war's end. Katje, though ultimately a "good guy," believes herself to be deeply morally compromised (and has her male counterpart in Pirate Prentice) and so allows herself to be used by Mr. Pointsman in a scheme to pump information from Slothrop on the French Riviera. Their meeting involves the optically-conditioned giant Octopus Grigori, trained to attack Katje in the water so Slothrop has a chance to "rescue" her and they to "bond." They begin a sexual relationship so Katje can break down Slothrop's defenses and observe his reaction to being esposed to reams of technical data about the V-2 rocket -- hoping in this way to explain the otherwise occult ability of Slothrop's erections to "determine" where it will fall. Slothrop does become as emotionally attatched to Katje as he could to any female with whom he has sexual relations and Katje does exhibit concern for what happens to Slothrop much later in the book. It's stretching it, though, to call this affinity stemming from romantic passion.

"Several companions suddenly disappear or re-appear after extended amounts of time, including the two guards watching Slothrop and Katje."

The "two guards" are minor but significant characters, hardly to be thumbnailed as spear-carriers. General Wivern goes on to lead Operation Backfire, the British effort to reassemble and fire V-2 rockets at Cuxhaven, who, at the climax of "In The Zone," Slothrop was going to speak to off-the-record. Instead, he walks right into Pointsman's trap to have him castrated, unwittingly foiling it with great humorous appropriateness (the malignant caracature of a racist American Technical Intelligence officer Major Duane Marvy gets snipped instead). Sir Steven Dodson-Truck becomes legless-drunk in Slothrop's game of Prince of Wales and tearfully confesses to Slothrop that his erections are of highest interest to British Intelligence, causing Slothrop to flee.

"It is hinted at that Slothrop's prescience of rocket hits is due to being conditioned as an infant by the creator of Imipolex G, Laszlo Jamf. Later, the reality of this story is called into question in a similar fashion as the existence of Slothrop's original sexual exploits were."

The exact nature of the Infant Tyrone's penile conditioning is never made clear, but the omniscient narrator tells us that he indeed was conditioned by Prof-Dr. Jamf -- before Jamf made his career switch from psychology to polymer chemistry. The Jamf dossier Slothrop obtains from Mario Schweitar spells out the deal made with Slothrop's dad Broderick to lease his son for a behavioral experiment in exchange for a sum of money used to pay for Tyrone's Harvard education. What's rendered ambiguous -- and the narrator tells us it would've been too early for it -- is Slothrop's growing belief that this behavioral conditioning somehow involved Imipolex G.

"Katje is revealed to be safe in England, enjoying a day at the beach with Roger Mexico and Jessica, as well as Pointsman, who is in charge of Slothrop's furtive supervision. While unable to contact Slothrop (or prohibited from contacting him), Katje continues to follow his actions through Pointsman."

When Katje re-emerges, she's a member of The Counterforce, which is defined more than anything else by an opposition to everything Mr. Pointsman stands for. She's following Slothrop through Schwarzkommando leader Oberst Enzian, who she knows through their mutual sexual relations with (and "love," such as might exist, for) the book's plexus of evil, Major Weissmann/Captain Blicero. Katje's in England for the very good reason that she's still with Pointsman's program at that time, defecating into Brigardier Pudding's mouth in another twisted and horrendous scheme of Pointsman's to "sexually" gratify the coprophilic, WW I-obsessed old general (this evokes erotically-transformed memories of Passchendele) in order to keep PISCES funding flowing. Scenes like this -- and that one's barely readable -- make it hard to view a character like Katje Borgesius as being capable of anything resembling romantic love.

"Much of the plot takes place on "The Anubis", a ferry on which many different characters travel at various times."

As Shirley Temple (who figures in Slothrop's imagination) might say, "oh my goo'ness." The Anubis is not a "ferry," it's a luxury yacht owned and operated by Polish refugees from the pro-Nazi Lublin regime and stuffed full of decadent aristocrats from Axis countries. That an American protagonist in a book set during WW 2 would spend time "partying" with people like this is perhaps GR's most transgressive violation of the conventions of war fiction. There are two episodes on the Anubis, both important, and only two characters who show up elsewhere in the book, Margharita Erdmann and Miklos Thanatz. "Much" and "many" are both mischaracterizations.

"Slothrop meets and has an extended relationship with Margherita Erdman, a pornographic film actress and masochist."

Margherita Erdmann is the German equivalent of a B-movie actress who capped her so-so career by making films with the grandiose Expressionist director (with minor echoes of Fritz Lang) Gerhardt von Goll. Only one of these is pornographic, and only in the outtakes which were never shown to the public but wound up in Goebbels's private stash. It's significant because in the gang-rape scene which turned real more out of von Goll's grandiosity and Erdmann's masochistic hunger than any intent to make a porno, Erdmann's daughter Bianca was conceived.

"Through this story, we find out sparse details about the S-Gerät, including that it has an approximate weight of forty-five kilograms."

Is this the most useless statement anyone's ever seen in a plot summary, or what?

"Slothrop spends much of the time as his invented alter-ego Rocketman, who wears a white Zoot Suit and the cone of a rocket-nose."

Slothrop gets a white Zoot Suit ("A-and a sharp keychain!") from black market operator Blodgett Waxwing back in the Casino Hermann Goering days and pawns it when he gets to Zurich. The Rocketman outfit which he acquires in Berlin from Saure Bummer, Trudy and Magda, consists of pieces of looted Wagnerian opera costumes, including a helmet with the horns removed (the nosecone) and red triangles sewn onto leather pants (the fins).

"Slothrop later returns to the Anubis to find Bianca dead, a possible trigger for his impending decline."

The sexual encounter with the 12-year-old Bianca, and her death, signals the end of any pretensions Slothrop might've had to be an American innocent among all those corrupted Europeans, indicated by the harshest language Pynchon uses to describe his promiscuous ways. The epiphany Slothrop (almost) has which prefigures his slide into disintegration comes much earlier after he first arrives in Berlin, drinks from an ornamental fountain and takes sick. The internal voice says Imipolex G is no Grail and he is no knightly hero. He's playing someone else's game, an irreducibly evil game, yet he keeps on playing it anyway because he's got nothing else better to do. After that, and at least up through his rescue by Frau Gnahb to do the bidding of Gerhardt von Goll, Slothrop is presented with a series of clear choices -- all of which he chooses wrong.

Pynchon presents these choices in obscurely mythic terms, some perhaps derived from Wagnerian opera or Germanic folk tales, making reference to the Evil Hour and the White Woman with the Wonderflower. What the right choice amounts to in practical terms is to clam up about the S-Gerat and Imipolex G, which Slothrop never does. The identification of Jamf with "I" in the primal dream can only allow so much scrutiny. This is why GR has been characterized as a anti-quest novel, paradigmatically postmodern. The quest for ever-further information is presented as ultimately toxic to the existence of the protagonist.

"At the same time, other characters' narratives begin to collapse as well, with some characters taking a bizarre trip through Hell,"

This fantasy involving Pirate and Katje has nothing to do with the hallucinations which may or may not be occupying Slothrop's mind, as he knows nothing about Prentice and next to nothing about Katje's work in the Dutch Underground. Though Pirate and Katje are both members of The Counterforce now, this is a meditation on how practitioners of espionage can never be free of the guilt they live with, as their successes often come at the cost of lives and betrayal.

"...and others flying into nothingness on Zeppelins."

After 35 years of reading essays on Gravity's Rainbow, that's a new one on me.

"A variety of interpretations of this fact exist, including theories that all of the involved characters have a shared consciousness, or even that the other characters are part of Slothrop's mind, and thus disintegrate along with it."

I haven't seen this in the literature either, and it doesn't seem well-supported. The major characters: Roger and Jessica, Enzian and Tchitcherine (both of whom are extremely important and deserve mention in a plot summary), Pokler, Pointsman, Margherita and Thanatz, Geli Tripping (a minor character who conjures a touchingly non-violent resolution to Enzian and Tchitcherine's blood feud), Katje and Pirate Prentice all have their stories more-or-less wrapped up -- although perhaps not nearly as tightly as readers of more conventional novels might consider "resolved." The increasing density of fantasy or dreamlike sequences toward the end are impossible to definitively locate inside Slothrop's imagination; some, like Pernicious Pop and the Paternal Peril, appear quite Slothropian, others, like "The Story of Byron the Bulb" may be autonomous authorial invention. Yet others may partake of the drug-addled flights of fancy you'd expect from denizens of Saure Bummer's crash pad Der Platz.

There's also the possiblity that Slothrop, instead of "disintegrating" (which may also be a fourth wall-breaking trope for Pynchon's commentary on how he thinks the novel's concluding), may have also simply learned how to be silent and get along in nature, making the "past Slothrops" besieging him the vestiges of paranoia he's finally learning to let go of.

No noteworthy complaints about the final paragraph.

Snardbafulator (talk) 11:03, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

What's stopping you? Dlabtot (talk) 16:26, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

What -- and make that longer than it already is? I didn't comment for the same reason I said not Word One about the horrifically inapt two-line summation of the central Pokler novella -- which contains nearly all the themes of the book and is incredibly moving (tear-jerking in the last few paragraphs, and there's not a lot of Pynchon that can make that claim).

It wasn't, per se, factually inaccurate. I've already violated my own self-imposed rule banning interpretation way more than might be necessary in this point-by-point rebuttal.

Snardbafulator (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 18:10, 10 June 2011 (UTC).

Nonononono, he means: what's stopping you from fixing it? That is, after all, the whole point of Wikipedia. Click on "Edit" and make it right. If Pirate Prentice works for S.O.E. and not ACHTUNG, then edit it so it's right.
Remember, nobody gets paid to edit Wikipedia, and neither is anyone compelled to. If the only people who are willing to edit the article are people who don't have their facts straight, then the facts won't be straight. If the people who do have their facts straight are unwilling to edit, then—again—the facts won't be straight.
Quit hoarding your knowledge! CüRlyTüRkeyTalkContribs 21:59, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

Umm ... thanks! First, I'm glad we have a Talk page to hash out these issues. To directly answer your question, it's because I'm new to contributing to Wikipedia and have never edited an article before and feel a little intimidated by the idea of changing a Priority One literature article (even if it is about my all-time favorite novel). As I interact with Wikipedians and learn the ropes, I'm sure this will change in due time and I'll have no problem sticking my two American pennies in while following Wikipedia's entirely respectable and appropriate guidelines.

To address the underlying issue, though, it is because writing a plot summary for a book like GR while following your guidelines to remain unbiased is almost an impossible task, due, among other things, to the book's length. Interpretation (and the personal agendas that implies) is unavoidable. There are inevitably judgement calls about what to leave out, and the gaps this person left -- about the Hereros and their relationship to Germany, the Kirghiz Light, the NTA and their relationship to proscribed language, Pokler's story of an idealistic scientist and the uses his knowledge is put to by the State -- are topics in themselves that can and have provided dissertation-bait for decades now. They're anything but minor scenes.

So while I appreciate your well-meant cajolery, fixing the article is not at all the more-or-less mechanical task of correcting facts by replacing snippets of data. I have no interest at all in doing this, because I'd have to conform to the frame this person constructed of the overall shape of the novel, with which I disagree strongly. That's why I suggested that the entire article needs to be re-written from scratch.

Am I up to the task? I don't know; GR is Great Literature and I'm just an internet bloviator. I do suspect that any attempt I might make would be much longer, and the article has already received a complaint for being "overly long." It would be an enormous intellectual task in the best of cases to decide which parts to cull and which to keep -- made infinitely more difficult by Pynchon's mastery of the prima facie fascinating digression.

So I'll think about trying. But it would take a lot of hard labor and correct judgment -- and probably several weeks.

Snardbafulator (talk) 14:48, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

I would assume that you have (or have (library?) access to) books about Pynchon and his works (I've got Joseph W. Slade's Writers for the 70's: Thomas Pynchon—I know there are much better and more thorough books than that). Rather than interpreting things yourself (which is not a very encyclopaedic thing to do), you should follow what those writers have written about the book, while ideally providing inline citations for the more intrepretation-y kind of stuff. This does mean, unfortunately, that anything you think is important but hasn't been written about should be left out. It also means that anything that hasn't been interpreted by someone the "right" way will, unfortunately, have to be wrong. This is because Wikipedia is not so much about truth per se, as it is about verifiability. If you can get at least one citation for each of the major points you brought up above, however, you should be good to go.
For GR that'll be a lot of work, but you could always fix it piece by piece rather than all in one go. Nobody's ever claimed anything about Pynchon was easy, have they? CüRlyTüRkeyTalkContribs 21:43, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

Uhh ... Inherent Vice? :)

Unfortunately, I do not currently have access to a university library.

I own Mindful Pleasures: Essays on Thomas Pynchon that came out @ 1977. I've also read large chunks of both Douglas Fowler's and Steven Weisenberger's GR companions, as well as countless essays I pulled from the stacks at Rutgers 25 years ago as a student. I consider Edward Mendelson the man, and his essay (which famously defined GR as an encyclopedic narrative) the single best work on the book I have come across. Before I settle on a strategy, I have a few more things I want to hash out here, because if I do decide to take the plunge, I want to do this right -- "right" in terms of Wikipedia standards, of course.

First point: I'm a Pynchon fan first. Second point: I'm old school. The essays I read about Pynchon back in the day never mentioned the word "postmodern." Unfortunately, the postmodernists have cannabalized GR as an ur-text and most of the more recent scholarship on GR during the Age of Derrida and Foucault (thankfully ended) makes my skin crawl, like the ridiculous idea snuck into the plot summary (without a cite) that some of the characters share the same consciousness. You wouldn't have seen that in 70s scholarship.

Understand my view of contributing to Wikipedia: I would never dream of jumping on the Talk page to blast something cited, even if I totally disagreed with the cite -- even if it concerned Pynchon. I think the opening graphs of this article are completely lame, but they're cited with the opinions of po-mo scholars. That's what everybody did in the late 80s and 90s -- drooled over transgression and bashed Western rationality. Though fashions in the academy seem to be changing, that stuff is still probably the most recent Pynchon scholarship out there. Wikipedia's job isn't to correct it, it's to reflect it. I get verifiability.

So I'm only talking about re-doing the scene-by-scene plot summary, not the first graphs under the heading "Plot Summary" that are cited. I notice that entire section is supported by a single inline citation (Wikipedese for footnote?) which refers only to the book itself. I also just checked out the "List of Episodes in Gravity's Rainbow" article. It starts out pretty excellently until about Episode 19 and then degenerates to one-line descriptions that Wikipedia is not pleased with. Had the author of the text I'm focusing on in the main article simply reviewed that, s/he would've spared me the necessity of offering so many corrections.

I would do a straight, terse plot summary with as little interpretation as I can get away with. There are going to be choices involved (inevitably if passively interpretive) in what sections I choose to leave out or very briefly allude to. Some active interpretation is obviously essential near the end because Pynchon deliberately problematizes the notion of plot and words have to be said about why or how Slothrop "disintegrates" and suggestions made as to integrating the surreal/dream sections. I don't know if I can provide cites, because being a Pynhead so long, interpretations by the first generation of critics and scholars have congealed among fans into accepted "views on GR" which would take massive work to trace to where they were originally published, though I'll give it a college try. I don't plan on including my remarks on Slothrop's choices and the epiphany he doesn't get while barfing and pooping his guts out in a Berlin basement, because that's, as far as I know, original research. Bear in mind that none of the current scene-by-scene plot summary's interpretive remarks are cited. My aim is simply to be factually inarguable to a reader of the book.

I may start out by copying the section I'm changing into a textfile to use it as a template. I'll make the gross corrections first, delete the irrelevant bits (like the S-Gerat weighing 45 kilos) and add the sections that are inarguably important that were left out (the Kirghiz Light and NTA, Enzian and the Schwarzkommando, Pokler's blind scientific idealism), with an eye on keeping the text from getting no more than a third bigger than it already is.

I won't change the text on the page until I'm finished and it's thoroughly proofread.

Snardbafulator (talk) 02:46, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

I've posted a reply to your talk page, as it isn't all directly related to GR. CüRlyTüRkeyTalkContribs 03:59, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

Tarot references[edit]

In the discussion of Part One, I removed the reference to the numerology of tarot cards because the argument was a stretch and, as stated, it was an independent observation about an incidental quality of the book. It may only have failed to fit the discussion at hand, though, and it did cite a source.

--Macdust (talk) 03:03, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

It mayn't've cited a source, but they exist, such as in A Gravity's Rainbow Companion by Steven Weisenburger. Curly Turkey (gobble) 21:43, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

Teamwork, deference, convergence[edit]

I tore into this article without noticing that others may be preparing wholesale revisions.

I would much rather assist in that composition than persist in the piecemeal revision of the current one.

As a second a preference, I would rather just wait until the next version gets posted. However, Gravity's Rainbow is too important a work to sit for long so poorly represented to new minds coming to literature and so useless as a link for sharing one's interests.

It was gratifying to see that the tarot references were already moribund. If no one stops me, I will remove "post-modern" shortly, as that designation permits a narrow and reductionist reading of the book's wider explorations.

The changes I have made to the explanation of the title may be prolix; my object was to start the article with a demonstration that the book is not just coded arcana.

We may need to expand the conventions of article formatting to put something true and useful in front of readers.

Please forgive any transgressions I have made into current works-in-progress. Invite my assistance, but not just to appease me. Say the word, and I'll stop revising and wait, no explanation necessary.Macdust (talk) 19:39, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

If you're talking about Snardfabulator's planned "wholesale revisions", he hasn't made an edit to Wikipedia since September 2011.
I'm looking forward to someone really taking a good crack at this article, but please keep in mind that at Wikipedia, we're supposed to be summarizing what has been written on the subject; we can't pick and choose which information we prefer. This means if a substantial amount of what's been written on this book refers to it as "postmodern", then that cannot be ignored. That doesn't mean you have to define it as a postmodern novel, though. Here's an example opening:
Gravity's Rainbow is a 1973 novel by American writer Thomas Pynchon. A lengthy, complex novel with a large cast of characters, it takes place in Europe at the close of World War II. Academics disagree whether to label it high modern, postmodern, picaresque, or cow dung.
I'm not saying, "Write the lead like this!" (otherwise, I'd do it myself); this is an example of how to handle it and stay neutral. Just please keep in mind that the article must be about how the book has been read, and not how it should be read.
———Curly Turkey (gobble) 21:58, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

Sounds sensible. Macdust (talk) 22:13, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

The reference to the blog page for the "high modern" appellation at doesn't actually refer to Gravity's Rainbow as a "high modern" novel. "Postmodernism" is sometimes seen as a development of "Modernism", sometimes as a reaction against it. In any case, the novel is most often referred to in the critical literature as a "postmodern" or "postmodernist" novel, as in the following from the Literary Encyclopedia: "Published in 1973, it is often considered as the postmodern novel, redefining both postmodernism and the novel in general." My vote would be to revert to "postmodern picaresque" in the lede. Abaca (talk) 23:37, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

My advice would be to stop trying to define the novel, and to summarize how others have defined it. Take a look at Maus, a Featured Article that has far more complicated genre issues than Gravity's Rainbow. If a definition is not universally accepted, then why on earth would it be necesary to call it anything more than just a novel? Is there a relible source out there that calls it a postmodern picaresque novel? If there is, is it widely accepted? Curly Turkey (gobble) 23:47, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

I don't have a dog in this fight. FWIW, I recognize that there are numerous definitions and some debate as to what is meant by "postmodern." I'd have thought, however, that most people would agree that Gravity's Rainbow has very often been described in these terms.

But I'd like to make a different point: by removing the word "postmodern" when it serves as a qualifying adjective, you get some rather weird and often unhelpful results. For instance, previously the lead stated that the book was a "postmodern picaresque." This is perhaps arguable, but in general fair enough. On the other hand, calling it merely "picaresque" is, I think, downright misleading. The point is that if you're going to call it picaresque, you need to qualify that description, as it is very clearly far from being a classic instance of the picaresque.

Or to take another instance: this edit. I think that calling the book the "greatest postmodern work[s]" is more or less fair enough, though personally I'd qualify that further and call it "one of" the greatest postmodern novels. Anyhow, to switch that to "one of the greatest works of 20th century literature" seems to me debatable. After all, there are plenty who think that postmodernism represents a wholesale decline. The earlier statement compared Gravity's Rainbow with (I dunno) the work of Barthelme, Calvino, Eco, or other postmodernists. The latter statement, in which the qualifier "postmodern" is removed, suddenly introduces comparisons with the high modernists: Joyce, Woolf, Eliot, and so on. It becomes immediately more tendentious. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:28, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

And of course, there's the issue that that's a statement cited to a reliable source. I'll revert now, I think. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:30, 17 March 2013 (UTC)
Ah, yes, and I should have looked at the footnote! As this edit notes, it doesn't mention postmodernism... though it is more specific than the claim that the book is "one of the greatest works of 20th century literature." --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:38, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

It's true also also that "Helter Skelter" was the anthem of the followers of Charles Manson, but to lead with that description is to mislead. The moderator here has ignored the constructive discussion above and upended an effort to find wording ecompassing all positions accurately. Macdust (talk) 18:11, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

Just out of interest, who is the "moderator" here? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:38, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

My apologies. I meant to write "the immoderator". That would be me. Also, I meant to write that the immoderator somehow lost his place in the sequence of arguments here and so must beg your forgiveness for responding immoderately, having neglected to lash himself to mast to resist the siren call of indignation. Also the immoderator expresses his admiration that this testy process does seem to be producing a nice article. Respectfully and apologetically. Macdust (talk) 19:03, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

Ends in Britain?[edit]

The theater from the last page of the novel is widely assumed to be the Orpheus Theatre, run by Richard M. Zhlubb, that we see a few pages earlier. That theater is explicitly stated to be in Los Angeles, on Melrose. I guess this is technically an assumption, not fact, because the last page doesn't specifically mention a location (it just takes place in a theater and seems to be a stylistic continuation of the Orpheus theater scene from 3 or 4 pages earlier). Then again, that also gives no reason to assume the theater is in Britain. Sooooo, what gives? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:26, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

Plot Summary Rewrite[edit]

As noted by someone else earlier on this Talk Page, various elements of the "Plot Summary" section contained errors, for example Pirate Prentice clearly works for the SOE and not ACHTUNG, and at no point in the novel does any character ride a Zeppelin. I removed these errors and rewrote the majority of the Plot Summary section, which I believed was confusing (for example, it mentioned Enzian and Blicero, two relatively major characters, without providing adequate context of their role in the book's plot). I tried to clarify the plot summary and make it easier for someone who has never read Gravity's Rainbow to understand. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:15, 12 September 2014 (UTC)