“Chain of Links” or “Disorderly Tangle of Lines”?

Alternative Cartographies of Modernity in Thomas Pynchon’s Fiction
  • Marcel Cornis-Pope


The generation of interwar modernists, Pynchon suggests in Gravity’s Rainbow, has “wrecked” the orderly rooms of traditional history, threatening the “idea of cause and effect itself” (56). Old narrative orders have been dismantled, but has anything been created in their place? “Will Postwar be nothing but ‘events,’ newly created one moment to the next? No links? Is it the end of history?” (56). What will our choices be in the age of “posthistory”: the way of “love” and “connection” or the way of “death” and entropy? These are questions that Pynchon’s fiction has continually raised without ever settling them. Few of his characters are ready to embrace the “symbols of randomness and fright” as readily as the wise statistician Roger Mexico, whose job in Gravity’s Rainbow is to predict the rockets’ hits on World War II London. When faced with disasters, most of Pynchon’s characters fall back on reassuring narratives and “preserving routines” as protection “against what outside none of them can bear—the War, the absolute rule of chance, their own pitiable contingency” (96).


Grand Narrative Dodo Bird West Line Subversive Potential Film Footage 
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© Marcel Cornis-Pope 2001

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  • Marcel Cornis-Pope

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