Today is the 75th birthday of acclaimed American novelist Thomas Pynchon. Perhaps best known for his challenging 1973 novel Gravity’s Rainbow, Pynchon has been known for decades as an enigmatic and private figure whose elaborate works blend a paranoid sensibility with a fondness for pop cultural ephemera.
Pynchon’s first novel, V (1963), inaugurated a literary career of relatively few books, but these generally greeted with intense critical and public anticipation. Gravity’s Rainbow in 1973 won the National Book Award, and was recommended by the jury for fiction as the Pulitzer Prize winner for that year, but was denied the award by the larger Pulitzer jury. Seventeen years lay between Gravity’s Rainbow and Pynchon’s next work, Vineland, and his most recent novels are Against the Day and Inherent Vice (this last is rumored to be in development as a film). Other works of Pynchon’s include The Crying of Lot 49, Mason and Dixon, and the collection of early stories Slow Learner.
Given the challenges of Pynchon’s work, a good deal of scholarship has discussed and helped to explicate the novels: UIUC’s Library owns many such works, including books of more general Pynchon criticism and several works dealing specifically with Gravity’s Rainbow. A search in MLA International Bibliography for “Thomas Pynchon” as Subject leads to many articles as well.
- Pynchon Notes, a scholarly journal dealing specifically with Pynchon’s work (and UIUC’s holdings for the journal)
- Thomas R. Pynchon: Spermatikos Logos, a homepage hosted by literary site The Modern Word, which in addition to general resources on the novels, includes Zak Smith’s Illustrations for Each Page of Gravity’s Rainbow
- The Thomas Pynchon Wiki – featuring annotations for each of Pynchon’s novels
- San Narciso College Thomas Pynchon Home Page (actually hosted at Pomona!), including a biographical sketch and information on both Pynchon’s published and uncollected works.
- Thomaspynchon.com, with articles of interest and advice for readers new to Pynchon