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Mason & Dixon [Paperback]

Thomas Pynchon
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
Price: 7.69 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

2 April 1998

Charles Mason (1728 -1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733-1779) were the British Surveyors best remembered for running the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland that we know today as the Mason-Dixon Line. Here is their story as re-imagined by Thomas Pynchon, in an updated eighteenth-century novel featuring Native Americans and frontier folk, ripped bodices, naval warfare, conspiracies erotic and political and major caffeine abuse.

We follow the mismatch'd pair - one rollicking, the other depressive; one Gothic, the other pre-Romantic - from their first journey together to the Cape of Good Hope, to pre-Revoluntionary America and back, through the stange yet redemptive turns of fortune in their later lives, on a grand tour of the Enlightenment's dark hemisphere, as they observe and participate in the many opportunities for insanity presented them by the Age of Reason.


Frequently Bought Together

Mason & Dixon + Gravity's Rainbow + V.
Price For All Three: 20.97

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  • Gravity's Rainbow 6.99
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Product details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (2 April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099771918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099771913
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 162,723 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

Review

"Pynchon's finest work yet...if anyone is still looking for the Great American Novel...then this may well be it" (Brian Morton Scotland on Sunday)

"A rollicking, picaresque tale... playful, erudite and funny" (New York Times)

"Very grand and mad and beautiful...I can't remember ever having reviewed a more original novel... and if America produces a novel to come near this marvellous, proliferating thing this decade, I promise to eat it" (Philip Hensher Spectator)

"Pynchon offers readers a trip as long and full of yearning as that of his heroes" (New Yorker)

"A hugely ambitous epic...show cases all of Mr Pynchon's gifts as a writer: his magical abilty to fuse history and fable, science and science fiction; his Swiftean grasp of satire and his vaudevillian's sense of farce. It's a book that testifies to his remarkable powers of invention and his sheer power as a storyteller... as moving as it is cerebral, as poignant as it is daring" (New York Times)

Book Description

A hugley ambitious, epic work from this most inventive and creative author.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A challenging, complex but rewarding read. 17 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
A mechanical duck, a talking dog, trigonometry, flying along lay-lines, an ear that hears all, real history and total fantasy all rolled into one. Written in an unusual style of almost phonetic 18th Century English, with totally irregular capitalisation, this is far from a light read in more ways than one as it is also over 700 pages long. Follow the adventures of Mason and Dixon as they carve a line across America and into history. Pynchon has mixed real events, folk-lore, real and imaginary people into a novel that I will have to read again to fully appreciate. Very very funny at times, totally perplexing at others but always crying out for you to read just one more page before you put it down for the night. If you are looking for a book that you actually have to read, rather than just look at the words, then this could just be it.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thomas Pynchon can write 21 Oct 2003
Format:Paperback
You want great writing? Pynchon can write. Sometimes jaw-dropping images and ideas stop you in your tracks, and make you put the book down for a bit just to take it in.
At other times, the writing is deceptively simple. Just read the first line of this book. "Snow-Balls have flown their Arcs, starr'd the Sides of Outbuildings, as of Cousins..." With a few simple words we can hear the thump of snowballs on wood, we know that we are talking about a large family ("Cousins", not "Children"), the tense tells us we are probably at the darkening end of a winter day, and in describing buildings and kids as equal targets, we have a gentle wit.
So far, so what, maybe? Well, call me a ponce but in the reference to arcs, we have a reference back to Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon's massive, crazy WWII novel loosely themed around the deadly parabola of the V2 rocket. In the reference to stars, we have a pointer in the direction of the theme to come in Mason & Dixon - astronomy and the cosmos, at the time of a shift in society's relationship to it. Mason and Dixon are brought together to carry out astronomical observations, and Mason uses the stars to navigate his line across America.
There you go, a couple of hundred words about the first line. You're in for a rich, astonishing read - just take your time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars America at its outset 29 Dec 2007
Format:Paperback
In the search for the mythical "Great American Novel", too many are guilty of forming their idea of what this should be before reading any of the contending texts. Hence, the likes of Don De Lillo, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth and John Updike are those most often mentioned in this context. The assumption is that the beast should deal with twentieth century material - the America of skyscrapers, mass immigration, tenement buildings and baseball.

However, what better way of getting to the soul of a country than an exploration of the initial conditions at that nation's birth? Thomas Pynchon obviously agreed and came up with a kaleidoscopic overview of America in the womb.

Over 700 pages of the most impressive prose imaginable, Pynchon takes us on a tour of eighteenth century America, with doses of South Africa, the UK and St. Helena thrown in. But this isn't just an academic exercise designed to create dazzling prose, this is a touching novel with larger than life characters and a big heart - a human novel that emphasizes decency, open-mindedness and human frailty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful creation but a difficult read 17 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This meticulously researched and crafted epic is a unique mix of serious historical novel, "bromance", and a series of surreal Pythonesque sketches involving a talking dog, a mechanical duck and giant vegetables. It is full of laugh-out-loud moments, sweeping historical set-pieces and touching human interest. But it is a difficult read. Written in idiomatic 18th century style (the prose as well as the dialogue), full of verbose asides and often branching out into post-modernism and magical realism it can be very difficult to follow at times. The experience is similar to reading a difficult book in a foreign language which you speak well without being completely fluent. Here is some sample prose to illustrate what I mean...'In the Hold were hundreds of Lamb carcasses,- once a sure occasion for Resentment prolong'd, now accepted as part of a Day inflicted by Fate, ever darkening,- exil'd to which, he must, in ways unnam'd,-perhaps, this late, unable to include "simply,"-persist.'
In short I'm very glad I read it and I'm very glad I've finished it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An antidote to "Rainbow." 12 July 2004
Format:Paperback
I cannot add much to the long and detailed analyses of this book written by other reviewers. Suffice to say that, when I heard it discussed ( B.B.C radio programme, just after publication) by a mixed gathering of critics, one (whose name currently eludes me, but is an esteemed critic) reviewer referred to it as possibly the greatest book of the 20th. century.
It is the only book I have hurried out to buy as a hardback publication. I have also read it twice. Unlike "Gravity's Rainbow" (it left me bombed out after a few chapters), this is a big book that is quite an easy read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Morse and Dixon, er.... Lewis and Clarke, er.... 7 April 2010
Format:Paperback
Not much to add to the other reviews - they are spot-on, this is a wonderful book.

But just one point for you to ponder: did anybody else imagine John Thaw and Kevin Whately as Mason and Dixon while reading this, or is it just me?

The sense of the the grumpy southerner and the chirpy Geordie is uncanny, right down to their speech patterns. I wonder if Pynchon is a "Morse" fan?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Load of junk
Would not recommend anyone buying this. An absolute waste of time and money. Look elsewhere for your reading material. Junk book
Published 4 months ago by paul nadin
2.0 out of 5 stars So What
I struggled to the end of this and after finally finishing it thought 'So What'
having finished another wordy, if erudite, Pynchon I am left with the feeling that he is... Read more
Published 8 months ago by K. N. Tole
5.0 out of 5 stars Inimitable
To be fair, and perfectly honest, this is the best book ever written. Do yourself a favor and read this masterpiece of modern literature.
Published on 13 Oct 2006 by Piers Montague
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost or Found
This book will reward you enormously if you stick with it. It is a book for anyone who has ever lost anything or found something. Read more
Published on 21 Oct 2003 by Mark Dwyer
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly accurate piece of "fiction"
I must confess my bias towards this book before I start. My name is Richard Dixon-Teasdale, my Grandmother was MH Dixon of Cockfield, County Durham. Read more
Published on 20 Dec 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly accurate piece of "fiction"
I must confess my bias towards this book before I start. My name is Richard Dixon-Teasdale, my Grandmother was MH Dixon of Cockfield, County Durham. Read more
Published on 16 Dec 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Out Of The Nightmare Of History
Thomas Pynchon keeps demanding that we answer a few simple questions. What is it to be Human? And what have we made of our Humanity? Read more
Published on 2 July 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of The Nightmare of History
Thomas Pynchon keeps demanding that we answer a few simple questions. What is it to be Human? And what have we made of our Humanity? Read more
Published on 2 July 1999
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