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Against the Day Hardcover – 21 Nov 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1104 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (21 Nov. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224080954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224080958
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 6.2 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 269,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Unmistakably a masterpiece" -- Robert Murphy, Metro

"Heart-stopping felicities of description lurk around every
corner" -- Tim Martin, Independent on Sunday

This amazing writer continues to be amazing
-- London Review of Books

`Clever and inventive in a mad professor kind of
way...Intermittently warmed by paragraph-long sunbeams of iridescent
prose-poetry' -- Economist

`Funny, thought-provoking and exquisitely written, this is well worth the hours one must devote to it.'
-- Times

`Pynchon's enthralling ambitiousness and phenomenal imaginative
power remain undimished' -- The Sunday Times rev John Dugdale

`Pynchon's enthralling ambitiousness and phenomenal imaginative
power remain undimished' -- The Sunday Times rev John Dugdale

`door-stopping, continent-spanning, carnivalesque romp'
-- FT Fiction choice, Angel Gurria-Quintana

`review of reviews'
-- Sunday Telegraph

review. -- Private Eye

Book Description

Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, a vast epic spanning the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, will be hailed as one of the great American novels of the twenty-first century.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
Thomas Pynchon is probably the most reclusive writer America has ever produced. He does not give interviews and though he is now in his eighties, the only photographs in existence are of a 20 year-old who possibly isn't even him at all. Well, so what? He is also the King of Cool. No one produces work like him. His texts are overwhelming, unstable, encyclopaedic and brilliant. Characters in Pynchon's books get names like: Oomie Vamplet, Darby Suckling and Sloat Fresno. In Against the Day some of them feature in travels in Europe and America (in time as well as space), a train that travels under sand in the desert, and an airship that flies through the hollow centre of the earth. Events include a near drowning in mayonnaise, an encounter with a sentient ball of lightning called Skip and a dog that reads Henry James. Topics explored or exploited include the (real) Tunguska incident in central Siberia when on 30 June, 1908, a small comet or meteor collided with the Earth and exploded in the sky creating a huge crater in the Russian steppes; other realities grappled with include the Riemann zeta-function, multidimensional vector-space, the physics of light and the influences of Kabbalistic Tarot. All of this stuff is cutting, ironic and more than just funny; it often has a deeply subversive intention, all wrapped up with a mixture of scientific acuity, intellectual playfulness and sheer nerve. But one must be prepared with Pynchon for the dislocation of his digressive mind. Don't expect coherence - you have to just go with the flow.

What strikes me now, on a first reading of the book (and I will definitely want to read it again, though not just yet!
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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Damian Kelleher on 22 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Pynchon's latest work, Against the Day, was always going to be a monster of a novel. Prior to being published, there were rumours that Pynchon was researching mathematician David Hilbert and Sofia Kovalevskaya. A book on mathematics, went the theory. Russian and German mathematics, anyway. Nothing more was known, but Pynchon fans being what they are, grand theories of 'what if' and 'could be' floated about the internet. In July 2006, nine years after Pynchon's previous novel, Mason & Dixon, was published, a brief message/plot synopsis was posted on the Amazon.com webpage for his novel, adding a title - Against the Day. The message was written by Pynchon himself, and was pulled a few days later. Thrilled fans posted the synopsis over and over. A Pynchon novel set before the Great War! Anarchists, scientists, different countries, bizarre characters, odd sexual practises! Chums of Chance, T.W.I.T., Quarternionists, Vectorists! But what does all this mean for the actual novel?

Against the Day is a mess. It is 1085 pages long, split into five enigmatically titled sections, each dealing with its own group of characters, situations, time period, geographic location and philosophical and scientific problems and situations. The Traverse family are the arguable link for the novel as a whole, but to try and pinpoint a grand, overarching plot is perhaps beside the point. A mess, the novel was called - and yes, it is. It seems at times as though Pynchon knows this could be his last book (He was born in 1937), and thus he shoved every last thought and wander of the mind he could muster. If the last, put it all in. If the last, make it count. So here it is, and does it count?

The answer is yes.
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Format: Paperback
Thomas Pynchon's "Against the Day," published in 2006, is quite a doorstopper at no less than 1220 pages in this paperback edition. It follows the fortunes of probably about 30 main characters, whose paths are interlinked in various ways, and it spans the period 1898 to after the end of the First World War. In scope, as well as in size, it is massive, as it attempts a sort of alternative history of the period, encompassing the Mexican Revolution, the burgeoning trade union movement, the struggles in the Balkans, and much else. Of especial interest to Pynchon is Capitalism, and its increasing stranglehold on the world's economy at this time. Pynchon sees Capitalism as exalting the ruthless and crushing the innocent, its evil personified in the character of Scarsdale Vibe. Pynchon's critique of Capitalism is detailed and considered, and even when not being directly addressed, its spectre haunts many of the events of the book. But there are many other strands to this gargantuan work: expositions on the work of electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, and very complex discussions of the nature of light, for example. Also explorations of the ideas of time-travel and bilocation, and technical descriptions of the processes involved. Not being scientifically-minded, I was somewhat lost during these sections, but that is to be expected with Pynchon, whose books often contain passages of Engineering, Physics and various areas of Mathematics(in this book, principally vectors). Pynchon also gives evidence of great knowledge of History, languages and a technical knowledge of Music. The density and ambition of his prose is staggering.Read more ›
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