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Mason and Dixon [Hardcover]

Thomas Pynchon
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 May 1997
Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were 18th-century British surveyors who ran the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland - the Mason-Dixon Line. This is their story, featuring Native Americans and frontier folk, ripped bodices, erotic and political conspiracies, naval warfare and caffeine abuse.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; 1st edition edition (1 May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 022405001X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224050012
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16 x 5.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 398,134 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


"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 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) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A hugley ambitious, epic work from this most inventive and creative author. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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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
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
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
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely just the job. 13 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this, along with a whole bunch of other Pynchon works altogether at the same time for one especial and very particular reason. Having studied literature to some degree (Ha!) at university myself some several or so years back, to little avail, I had read one of his earlier efforts, ie, 'The Crying of Lot 49', and, though I was, to be perfectly honest, in a state of some mental perturbation in those days, being a frequent user of what are laughably called 'recreational' drugs and subject to quite crippling bouts of depression, during which suicidal actuation was not at all uncommon, having, along with my then 'partner', lost my rented home and thereafter had no recourse but to 'move in' with her unbearable parents, whereat the 'girl' announced, quite out of the blue, or should I say black, that she was, in true 'A Kind of Loving', 'Up the Junction', 'Alfie' fashion, not to mention that one by Jean Paul Sartre, pregnant, I must say I enjoyed it very much.

Thus, having some one or two years later noticed the present tome for sale shortly after it's initial publication in the Drabford branch of Waterstone's, where Rackham's used to be, I couldn't help but notice how, well, substantial, it was, that is to say, thick. So, a few years more further on down the line, when I required a bunch of good lumpy books for that aforementioned especial reason, I knew full well which author to pursue - the master of enigma, Mr T. Pynchon. And where else would one head in order to order a whole bunch of big lumpy books than global monstrosity Amazon (named either after the rainforest they're no doubt doing a good deal towards destroying or the tribe of mono-breasted female giants)?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Weird
A disappointing purchase.

1. If you're wanting to learn something about Mason & Dixon then buy a different book. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Adrian Birks
4.0 out of 5 stars I would definitely recommended but seller sent out a different book...
I bought this for my partner and I think he's enjoying it! He's a big fan of Mason and Dixon so I assumed that he would. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Hannah Marriott
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 8 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 13 months ago by K. N. Tole
5.0 out of 5 stars Morse and Dixon, er.... Lewis and Clarke, er....
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... Read more
Published on 7 April 2010 by Amazon Customer
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 An antidote to "Rainbow."
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. Read more
Published on 12 July 2004 by "pavano"
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
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