Portrayal of World War II

I've been thinking a lot about the way that the books we've read so far have protrayed World War II. i guess that mostly means Cryptonomicon and Gravity's Rainbow, but maybe a little bit of Underworld. It's interesting that both Cryptonomicon and Gravity's Rainbow are books about World War II, but somehow it doesn't feel like that because they are set in locations or ways that don't reflect what we would traditionally think of when we think fo WWII. Why do you think that these books focus on this other part of the war that we aren't used to? When I'm reading, I forget about the European co

Dentists and WWII

I find the Dentist terror pretty amusing. I mean, everyone is afraid of dentists, now this one is a powerful rich fiend. And then that his wife, (reminds of someone like Imelda Marcos) was actually a prostitute (or so Randy is told).

I was thinking back to Gravity's Rainbow and how Pynchon presents WWII vs Stephenson. Is this also going to go back to the Cold War? Actually, it's interesting that G.R., unlike Underworld or Crypt., does not jump back and forth between decades constantly. Perhaps Crypt. is more along the lines of Underworld. DeLillo shows the connections between the Co

Portraying WWII

I find it interesting how Pynchon portrays World War II. The common view would be that WWII was one of the most coherent wars, evil versus good, plain and simple. (I don't really believe that, as a disclaimer). WWI, on the other hand, was murky and ridiculous and insane--rather like the Vietnam War. By focusing on the end of WWII, Pynchon manages to make it seem as stupid as Vietnam. The characters don't seem to know why they are there, and do not seem to feel any real emotion in regards to winning or losing. In fact, it seems like most of the characters don't really talk much about Hitler, or the Nazis--it's not the issue. The rocket is the issue. Now, if one views the book as something about the Cold War then this makes sense--to look at it as a WWII novel doesn't seem right. Ultimately it's not about WWII at all--only in setting.

past life


"He used to pick and shovel at the spring roads of Berkshire, April afternoons he's lost, "Chapter 81 work," they called it, following the scraper that clears the winter's crystal attack-from-within, its white necropolizing...picking up rusted beer cans, rubbers yellow with preterite seed, Kleenex wadded to brain shapes hiding preterite snot, preterite tears, newspapers, broken glass, pieces of automobile, days when in superstition and fright he could make it all fit...and now in the Zone, later in the day he became a crossroad, after a heavy rain he doesn't recall, Slothrop sees a very thick rainbow here, a stout rainbow cock driven down out of pubic clouds into Earth, green wet valleyed Earth, and his chest fills and he stands crying, not a thing in his head, just feeling natural..." (638).

Moments of Peace in War


On page 172, just after Pointsmen has recieved oral sex from Maud, it says, "But no one saw them, then or ever, and in the winter ahead, here and there, her look will cross his and she'll begin to blush red as her knees, she'll come to his room off the loab once or twice perhaps, but somehow they're never to have this again, this sudden tropics in the held breath of war and English December, this moment of perfect peace." Typically oral sex is not seen as an act of emotional intimacy, but rather as an erotic sexual act. I think it's interesting that Pynchon has chosen this as the perfect moment of peace.

Bananas and the War

One thing that I find interesting about Gravity's Rainbow is that Pynchon not only incorporates historical and cultural allusions in his work, but that he also includes a great deal of scientific and mathematical allusions as well. In one of my favorite passages so far, Pynchon describes Pirate's banana breakfast with the expected sensory vocabulary and with the unexpected vocabulary of biology, "[the] odor of Breakfast-- taking over not so much through any brute pungency or volume as by the high intricacy to the weaving of its molecules, sharing the conjuror's secret by which- though it is not often Death is told so clearly to fuck off- the living genetic chains prove even labyrinthine enough to preserve some human face down twenty generations--"(10)

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