Literary Criticism

A "Gravity's Rainbow" Companion: Sources and Contexts for by Steven C. Weisenburger

By Steven C. Weisenburger

Including a few 20 percentage to the unique content material, this can be a thoroughly up-to-date version of Steven Weisenburger's necessary advisor to Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. Weisenburger takes the reader web page by means of web page, frequently line via line, in the course of the welter of ancient references, medical facts, cultural fragments, anthropological examine, jokes, and puns round which Pynchon wove his tale. Weisenburger absolutely annotates Pynchon's use of languages starting from Russian and Hebrew to such subdialects of English as Forties highway speak, drug lingo, and army slang in addition to the extra vague terminology of black magic, Rosicrucianism, and Pavlovian psychology. The Companion additionally unearths the underlying association of Gravity's Rainbow--how the book's myriad references shape styles of that means and constitution that experience eluded either admirers and critics of the novel.
The Companion is keyed to the pages of the significant American variations of Gravity's Rainbow: Viking/Penguin (1973), Bantam (1974), and the unique, repaginated Penguin paperback (2000) honoring the radical as certainly one of twenty "Great Books of the 20th Century."

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16 Music and poetry As first a various, unformed hint we find Rise in some godlike poet’s fertile mind, Till all the parts and words their places take, And with just marches verse and music make; Such was God’s poem, this world’s new essay; So wild and rude in its first draft it lay; The ungoverned parts no correspondence1 knew, An artless war from thwarting motions2 grew, Till they to number and fixed rules were brought By the Eternal Mind’s poetic thought. Water and air he for the tenor chose, Earth made the bass, the treble flame arose,3 To the active moon a quick, brisk stroke he gave, To Saturn’s string a touch more soft and grave, The motions straight, and round, and swift, and slow, And short, and long, were mixed and woven so, Did in such artful figures smoothly fall, As made this decent,4 measured dance of all.

Knowledge. 26 Versification But most by numbers1 judge a poet’s song, And smooth or rough,2 with them, is right or wrong; In the bright Muse though thousand charms conspire, Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire, Who haunt Parnassus3 but to please their ear, Not mend their minds; as some to church repair, Not for the doctrine, but the music there. These equal4 syllables alone require, Though oft the ear the open5 vowels tire, While éxpletives6 their feeble aid do join, And ten low words oft creep in one dull line,7 While they ring round the same unvaried chimes,8 With sure returns of still-expected rhymes.

8. hurry on. 9. the sea. 10. meddling, prying. 11. at the creation. 12. penetrate. 13. an allusion to the popular belief that the stars control men’s fortunes. 14. secret. 15. the sack within which an embryo develops in the womb. 16. the year (thus represented in Egyptian hieroglyphics). 17. preserve in sugar. 18. There are two sorts of eternity; from the present backwards to eternity, and from the present forwards,… These two make up the whole circle of eternity, which the present time cuts like a diameter, but poetry makes it extend to all eternity to come, which is the half-circle’ (Cowley’s note).

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