Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day and the Technologies of Modernism

  • Simon de Bourcier
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


In his 2006 novel Against the Day, set around the turn of the twentieth century, Thomas Pynchon renegotiates his relationship with modernism. His juxtaposition of postmodernism and modernism conforms to Timothy Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker’s account of metamodernism. De Bourcier reads the Kafkaesque story of Lew Basnight through Slavoj Žižek’s opposition between modernist absence and “The Obscene Object of Postmodernity.” The chapter examines Pynchon’s engagement with the technological contexts of modernism, focusing on his fictional inventions the Tesla device and the Integroscope, and deploying theorisations of technology by Walter Benjamin and Friedrich Kittler. It shows that Pynchon juxtaposes Divisionism—a school of painting influenced by scientific investigations into colour such as Ogden N. Rood’s Modern Chromatics—with Kit Traverse’s embroilment in Futurism and Fascism.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon de Bourcier
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent scholarPlymouthUK

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