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Gravity's Rainbow (Penguin Classics) (Rough Cut) [Paperback]

Thomas Pynchon
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Oct 2006
Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. Gravity''s Rainbow is a postmodern novel written by Thomas Pynchon and first published on February 28, 1973. The narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest undertaken by several characters to uncover the secret of a mysterious device named the Schwarzgerät" ("black device") that is to be installed in a rocket with the serial number "00000." The novel has been praised for its innovation and complexity, though the acclaim has been criticized by some. In 1974, the three-member Pulitzer Prize jury on fiction supported Gravity''s Rainbow for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. However, the other eleven members of the board overturned this decision. The novel was nominated for the 1973 Nebula Award for Best Novel and won the National Book Award in 1974. Since its publication, Gravity''s Rainbow has spawned an enormous amount of literary criticism and commentary, including two readers'' guides and several online concordances, and it is frequently cited as Pynchon''s magnum opus."

Product details

  • Paperback: 776 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Deluxe edition (31 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143039946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143039945
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 14.1 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,498,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Pynchon is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Slow Learner, a collection of short stories, Vineland, Mason and Dixon and, most recently, Against the Day. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.

Product Description


"The best seller described as the kind of Ulysses which Joyce might have written if he had been a Boeing engineer with a fetish for quadrille paper" (Irish Examiner)

"I read this at 19 or so and just thought, like, f*ck, wow: this is the marker, the pace-setter for the contemporary novel" (Tom McCarthy, author of 'C')

"Thomas Pynchon, the greatest, wildest and most infuriating author of his generation." (Ian Rankin Guardian)

"Pynchon is both the US's most serious and most funny writer." (Thomas Leveritt Independent)

"Gravity's Rainbow is bonecrushingly dense, compulsively elaborate, silly, obscene, funny, tragic, pastoral, historical, philosophical, poetic, grindingly dull, inspired, horrific, cold, bloated, beached and blasted.[Pynchon's] novel is in this sense a work of paranoid genius, a magnificent necropolis that will take its place amidst the grand detritus of our culture. Its teetering structure is greater by far than the many surrounding literary shacks and hovels." (New York Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A new edition to celebrate the 40th anniversary of first publication of Pynchon's classic book. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
148 of 149 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 10 Reasons to Read Gravity's Rainbow 27 July 2012
1) It's about rocket science. Therefore, it allows for a hypothetical situation in which, hearing you complain about what a long, hard read it is, some passer-by rolls his eyes and mutters, "it's not rocket science." To which you can reply that actually, it is.

2) It has rude bits. Very rude bits. Frankly just plain wrong bits. So, while others see you reading a classic of post-modern literature, you'll know you're actually reading about extreme fetish sex that makes 50 Shades of Gray look like The Jane Austen Guide to Better Intimate Relations.

3) When it's not baffling or scatological, it's funny. For instance: Pynchon's description of the full horrors of traditional British confectionary is hilarious, and will be utterly familiar to anyone that remembers having cough candy forced onto them by sadistic grandparents.

4) You will get fit reading it. If you're the kind of person who is even contemplating reading this book, chances are that sport was not your best subject at school. A couple of weeks of holding this breezeblock while continually scratching your head and stroking your chin will leave you with arms like a stevedore's.

5) You will get stuff done around the house. That fence panel that needs fixing, that leak in the roof, that room you've been meaning to tidy; once Gravity's Rainbow makes your leisure time harder work than your chores, your normal prevarication routines will be completely turned on their head. Friends and family will wonder how your scruffy dusty book filled slum has been transformed into a gleaming futurist show home, and you'll be able to recommend them some reading material that does the job better than any bottle of Mr Muscle.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Most seem to agree that this is THE Pynchon book. Definitely not a quick,light read, but there IS a plot which picks up pace after a while. And what a plot! The most prominent theme centres on one Tyrone Slothrop, an American in England, who was raised in Germany in the decades before WWII, and was exposed in some sort of Pavlovian conditioning experiment (conducted by one Laszlo Jamf) which left him with a sensitivity to a compound which turns out to be present in the V2 rockets raining down on London. 'Pavlovian conditioning' refers (and this is very crude, I realise) to the pioneering work of Behaviourist Psychologist Pavlov(funnily enough) who studied the effect, probably long known to dog and horse trainers, whereby the subject is given a reward for some 'thing', then eventually the subject will perform the 'thing' in anticipation of the reward. It is noted by British boffins and secret service types that every time Slothrop has a sexual encounter a V2 lands not long afterwards, and he is held in a 'facility' sort of like a a Bletchley Park (where Turing et al worked to break the nazi Enigma code), dedicated to occult and psychological warfare, to determine whether he is actually anticipating the stimulus, and therefore predicting V2 strikes. For the first half, or even two thirds, of the book the focus shifts between different characters and locations who, at first, seem to have no connection but WWII, and whose relation to the main plot isn't made clear, but they all start coming together in the most entertaining way as the location shifts to newly, partly,liberated Europe, when Slothrop escapes and heads to Germany to find Jamf (I can't remember why, to be honest), and a 'team' is sent after him to castrate him. Read more ›
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
The book is certainly a challenge, but enjoyable if you follow it on its own terms. My advice: start on page 1, and keep reading until the end - do not skip sections no matter how much you may be tempted!

The writing is very entertaining, engaging and hilarious at times; on other occasions it is incredibly frustrating. I found it best to just keep plugging along without trying too hard to always get the meaning.

Some of the stranger sections probably require a few readings before you get a sense of what Pynchon is saying. Don't let it bother you, however. I found that repeated readings of a particularly hard section will often bring great rewards as the piece begins to take shape as a whole, even when individual sentences are completely un-intelligible.

It is not worth getting into the plot too much in a short review, but what I will say is that this book is absolutely vast. It contains layers upon layers of detailed imagery, tangents, tangents upon tangents, and a vast amount of cultural and social references. It does require some effort to complete.

For these reasons, I fully expected that this book would be a very love/it hate affair, and the reviews so far seem to bear this out. If you are up for a bit of more challenging read than the norm, however, I think reading this novel is as good a way as any to spend (admittedly huge amounts of!) your time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lot to admire, but... 3 Sep 2012
I was looking forward to this book but as I turned the final page, despite the many things I'd liked about it, I was somewhat disappointed.

First off the good: this is a hugely ambitious and in parts wildly entertaining march across war-torn and post-war Europe. Truly there is a great deal of joy to be had in watching Pynchon's imagination unfold. It's brilliantly written (some of the passages are like prose poetry) and frequently laugh-out loud funny. The characters are memorable and alive, the set pieces expertly handled and there are many images throughout which are large and thought provoking and will stay with me for a long time. What's more, it comes close to creating a new and seemingly impossible form - the novel which is also a musical. Throughout there are lyrics and rhymes punctuating the action (indeed, often commentating on it) and the whole book has the loose feel of free-form jazz.

There's a lot to admire about `Gravity's Rainbow'.

However, because the focus changes between different characters and different locations (and sometimes different realities), it's sometimes hard for the reader to keep up. The narrative's constant digressions can be wonderfully entertaining, but they can also be fruitless and frustrating. I often felt that Pynchon was just heading off in a particular direction on a mere whim, and - as I'm sure I've stated before - the whimsical is not a quality I particularly like in a novel. Even though it is often entertaining and very funny, the reader sometimes has to tread through treacle to get to those moments. It's frequently worthwhile when he or she arrives, but the trip can be quite plodding.

As such this is a book I'm torn over.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Proverbs For Paranoids
A nice bit of light reading for English graduates/masochists. Goes well with David Foster Wallace, Roberto Bolano, Herman Melville & Vladimir Nabokov.
Published 23 days ago by Ben
3.0 out of 5 stars Touch odd, couldn't really get into it
This was recommended to me by a colleague - who was clearly trying to impress with his intellect and knowledge. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Django
1.0 out of 5 stars The emperor has no clothes on (I think)
I am not proud of the fact that I have given one star to a piece of work that dominated one mans life for a decade, sitting as I am in my pants having achieved nothing myself of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Streetbard
5.0 out of 5 stars Good.
Excellent edition. Binding is good. Would recommend purchasing for any Pynchon fan. The cover is also attractive and colorful. Thanks.
Published 5 months ago by Gracie
5.0 out of 5 stars Rocket art
Somebody once said something like: you don't need to understand a poem in order to appreciate it. And I think that's true of books like Gravity's Rainbow, which is complex and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Scott Zodiac
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't get this
Gravity is the literary equivalent of a large splash of Jackson Pollack and mescalin - if you don't get either - you won't get it. Sublime - schizophrenic - solecism. Wonderful.
Published 8 months ago by Harry sutcliffe
5.0 out of 5 stars Iconic cultural masterpiece
Ulysses meets Dylan. Someone once said this book makes anything else you read seem simple-minded by comparison; that may be true but it doesn't suggest how much fun you'll have... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Frank 9
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read book by a major author
Pynchon pushes language hard- it's not an easy read- but it's immensely rewarding. The style is laugh-out-loud funny, hauntingly poetic, teasingly erotic: the action, brilliantly... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Enty
2.0 out of 5 stars A Parabolic Course Through Life
There are pieces of this work that are riveting, relevant, and highly cognizant of aspects of the human condition that are rarely explored. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Patrick Shepherd
5.0 out of 5 stars 40th Anniversary!
A vastly improved edition of Pynchon's classic, with much improved page layout and bigger text. This 902 page edition is superior to the previous Vintage editions. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mr. J. W. Dickson
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