Pynchons Against the Day: A Corrupted Pilgrims Guide
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Dalsgaard comes to some impressive conclusions regarding the type of relationships Pynchon is seeking to foster between temporal experiences of reading and interpretative strategies.
In one of the most entertaining offerings in the collection, Terry Reilly elucidates the role of the scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla in Against the Day. Reilly considers Tesla "the perfect Pynchon character" in his quirky bridging of the worlds of science and mysticism, and effectively demonstrates in this essay how events from Tesla's colourful biography punctuate the novel in a way which is more pervasive than the casual reader might suspect.
Yet "Narrating Tesla in Against the Day " leaves the reader wanting a deeper insight into Pynchon's logic in incorporating Tesla as he does, something which may well attract future critical attention. Developing the religious angle hinted at by Reilly, Kathryn Hume's contribution to this volume, "The Religious and Political Vision of Against the Day ," is wilfully and avowedly controversial in positing a new Catholic religious sensibility as well as a stronger commitment to political violence in Pynchon's novel.
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Unfortunately, many of Hume's assertions are not adequately substantiated by her evidence. Most damagingly, perhaps, she acknowledges but fails to address the implications of Pynchon's derisive use of the term "Christer" throughout the novel. Counter-arguments pertaining to each of her key points made within this same volume by Amy J.
Elias and Graham Benton respectively are, it must be said, far more convincing. Graham Benton's "Daydreams and Dynamite: Anarchist Strategies of Resistance and Paths for Transformation in Against the Day " is in many ways the centrepiece of the volume, providing the sustained attention to anarchism needed to tie together and elucidate manifold references to the subject in the other essays. Benton is enlightening in defining anarchism historically, and in tracing Pynchon's treatment of both European and American anarchisms through the novel.
Coming to similar conclusions via analysis of what Pynchon critiques rather than what he advocates, Jeffrey Severs explores Pynchon's anti-capitalism via an exposition of what he considers his new approach to representing women and women's roles in Against the Day.
It is true that, as Severs contends, such questions as "[h]ow do women make capitalism go? Closing the politics and economics section, the final essay in the collection, J. Representing Ethnic Wars in Against the Day ," is a meditation on the role of the Balkans in the novel, supplementing the work Sam Thomas has already done on this issue. With the possible exception of Kathryn Hume, the contributors to this collection read Pynchon's Against the Day as a mature expression or even exemplar of ideas, practices and sympathies, be they political, religious, or literary, which have been present throughout his oeuvre.
As many of the readings suggest, this novel, formally anarchist as well as ideologically so, makes explicit Pynchon's politicization of postmodern literary practice.
Pynchon's Against the Day: A Corrupted Pilgrim's Guide by Jeffrey Severs
The volume thus offers a robust defence of Against the Day , countering the negativity of its reception by reviewers, the narrow-mindedness of whose realist demands for rounded characters and coherent narrative Leise laments in his introduction. By combining analyses which both complement and contradict each other, the editors achieve their aim of providing readers with a kind of gestalt insight into the book, providing "a set of directions, an itinerary, a map to a hidden space": Philological Quarterly Severs, Jeffrey, Leise, Christopher Christopher eds. Pynchon's Against the Day: A Corrupted Pilgrim's Guide.
University of Delaware Press. Pynchon and the Balkans.
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