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Thomas Pynchon's America

Thomas Pynchon's America
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대학원 영어영문학과
이화여자대학교 대학원
The present study proposes to analyze Pynchon s rewriting of American history to expose his deconstructive interpretation of America as the New World. What is central to his reading of American history is the subversive questioning of the creditability of the democratic ideals proclaimed in the founding of the American nation and of the Puritan vision of having founded a New World for the "Chosen." For Pynchon, the New World had been the America before the arrival of the European settlers that had been lost as American history was absorbed into the whirlpool of Western fervor for progress. That is, contrary to the rationalized faith in having founded a new world of their own, what the Euro-Americans had established was a fresh realm for propagation of Eurocentric history. This interpretation inevitably extends Pynchon s fictional world from the confines of Americanism to the context of Western history, of the rationalized history of universal progress. The present study attempts to prove that Pynchon s novels present an integrated historical vision that will dislocate the convictions the late-capitalist American society holds about their History, their foundation. The novels can be grouped according to their setting. In Chapter 1, the contemporary American society explored in The Crying of Lot 49 and Vineland has been examined for its exposure of the "other" America that seems to have been a heritage continuing from the Old World, thus becoming a subversive statement on the democratic ideals of equality and freedom for all men as well as on the claim for having originated a history severed from ties to the European past. On the other hand, the European scene/history explored in V. and Gravity s Rainbow is analyzed to be a mislead to veneer the critical exploration of the consequences of the Bomb on the American society. Here, the meaning of American progress is examined within the broader spectrum of Western imperialist history of white supremacy, which inevitably touches upon the Puritan doctrine of predestination. In Chapter 3, Mason & Dixon, with its exploration of the pre-Revolutionary American society, becomes a subversive statement on how the New World had been transformed into a replica of the Old World, the final seal being the initiation of drawing a "Line" across the previously wild and free territory. Concomitant is the examination of the true force propelling the Revolution, capitalist ambition. Despite the fact that a major part of Pynchon s literary task lies in rewriting American history to probe into its ideological justification, most studies to the present have been partial or fragmentary in exploring this significant dimension. Critics have been concentrating more on segregating each novel as a separate entity with the emphasis on specific postmodern issues than examining them as components progressing toward unified vision. However, such fragmentary perspectives cannot provide an in-depth insight into Pynchon s fictional world without an overall perspective to frame and relate. Therefore, this study of Pynchon s novels within a singular historical perspective attempts to provide not only a more comprehensive interpretation of but also one frame of reference for his fictional world, and to open up a new dimension in Pynchon studies.
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