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V. [Paperback]

Thomas Pynchon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

16 Feb 1995

The quest for V. sweeps us through sixty years and a panorama of Alexandria, Paris, Malta, Florence, Africa and New York. But who, where or what is V.? Bawdy, sometimes sad and frequently hilarious, V. as become a modern classic.

This is the first novel by the author of Gravity's Rainbow, and a profoundly impressive and original work in its own right.

Frequently Bought Together

V. + Gravity's Rainbow + The Crying Of Lot 49
Price For All Three: 19.57

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (16 Feb 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099533316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099533313
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,112 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


"A remarkable book" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Screwballs chase alligators in sewers in a chaotic and worlwide chase for V., while literary styles, brilliant and bizarre, chase each other" (Books and Bookmen)

"The book sails with majesty through caverns measureless to man. Few books haunt the waking or sleeping mind, but this is one" (Time)

"Mr Pynchton writes with enormous skill and virtuosity" (Times Literary Supplement.)

Book Description

The first novel by the incomparable Thomas Pynchon.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex, Dazzling, Fantastic 4 Feb 2013
By Keith M TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Elusive author Thomas Pynchon's 1961 debut novel is a truly fantastic achievement. That is, fantastic not in an entirely positive sense, but more in a 'stand back in astonishment' sense, since it is a work of remarkable maturity, virtuosity and energy, and with a scope, level of invention and diversity of characters that most authors will never come close to mirroring. Purely a work of fiction, but referencing real-life characters and events, Pynchon's novel essentially contains two main narrative streams (although within these there are numerous sub-plots) - that of, ex-sailor, Benny Profane and the antics of his gang of New York associates, The Whole Sick Crew, and that of elderly traveller and son of British Foreign Office man, Herbert Stencil, who is embarked on a worldwide search for the mysterious V (almost certainly a woman, who or may not have been involved in a pre-Great War political conspiracy).

Pynchon's writing is bursting with exuberance throughout as his two main protagonists' paths cross in New York in 1956, and they come to realise that they have elements of shared history. Along the way, Pynchon's kaleidoscopic tale throws up more questions than answers, taking in historical events in New York (including an hilarious sequence hunting alligators in the sewers), Florence, Paris, South-West Africa and Malta, and postulating possible identities for his title 'character', including Victoria Wren, Venezuela, Valetta, Vheissu, Veronica (the rat) and Vera Meroving. For me, I found the 'contemporary' American sections most entertaining and compelling, although Pynchon also captures the early/mid-20th century English social and political sensibility perfectly.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Pynchon creates three overlapping worlds in V. The first features Benny Profane, a beer-bellied slacker in the mid 1950's, who stays in touch with his navy buddies while he lives in Manhattan, hunts alligators in the sewers, and drinks heavily with a young intellectual crowd that talks only in proper nouns. His second world features Sidney Stencil, a British spy who vanished in 1919, and his son Herbert, who was born in 1901 and relentlessly seeks the story of his father's death. The Pynch's third world is articulated most clearly by Fausto Maijstral, a poet born in 1919 who tells stories of love and guilt in a long lyrical letter (and confession) to his daughter.

At some point, each of these characters is affected by Victoria Wren, a British woman (born in 1880) who is drawn to espionage, sadomasochistic sex, and sexual fetishes. While their connections to Victoria--that is, V.--range from comical and weird (Benny sees her mad influence in the sewers) to profound (Fausto witnesses her death), V. has the greatest effect on the intensely imaginative Herbert Stencil, who has dedicated his life to learning about V. and her interaction with his father. This search for V. is the heartbeat in Pynchon's book.

In writing V., the Pynch creates a sharp contrast between the slacker world of Benny Profane and imaginative worlds of the Stencils and the poet Maijstral. In making this contrast, Pynchon shows a world of superficial and arbitrary affiliation for Benny, which is a not-inaccurate rendering of life for people living extended adolescences. (Believe me; I know.) Meanwhile, the worlds of the Stencils and Maijstral are beautiful, deep, and subtle, although the practical Sidney Stencil, a spy, is focused on finding the pattern in events that may or may not threaten British interests.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Genius 9 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'd heard of Pynchon for years but never got around to reading him until now. I need to read this again it was so epic. But first, Gravity's Rainbow. -a new fan
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, schizophrenic book. 22 April 2000
By A Customer
V is an unholy marriage between two different stories. Benny Profane is a beatnik who hangs around New York with a bunch of scoundrels called the Whole Sick Crew. Herbert Stencil is bent on proving that history has been driven by the letter V. The result of the combination is a book with more scope than you can imagine would fit into 450 pages. The book careens around the darkest and most colourful episodes of history by turns. Pynchon has his fingers in so many different pies that he manages to connect a huge spectrum of groups and experiences, and you're left with a jaw-droppingly global, if madcap, perspective, on what it means to be around in the second half of this century: 'Be cool, but care.'
Follow the participants in the V spree as they savour the thrills of Suck Hour in the Rusty Spoon, pursue alligators through labyrinthine New York sewers where a deranged Father once sought to convert rats to Christianity, and realise that a desert siege party is the worst of all places in which to attempt to monitor alien emissions...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twists and turns and twists and turns. 16 Feb 2004
By "burri"
I read Pynchon's "Mason & Dixon", and wanted to read more of this wonderful author's work. This is an incredible tale, stretching over thousands of miles and decades. The Pynchon style is not for everyone, but is character development is second to none, and his ability to go off on tangents in order to add depth without losing track of the plot in great. If you want you mind stretched and be entertained in the process, then maybe it's time that you went looking for "V".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars More trouble than it is worth.
I read this novel as a teenager and it resonated with me then for some reason. Attempting to read it again I became tired of its difficult prose and bizarre plot. Read more
Published 1 month ago by ray
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the attention
I bought V a couple of months ago and have only just found time to give it the attention it deserves. The ideal opportunity for this was a recent long-haul holiday. Read more
Published 24 months ago by wordfan
5.0 out of 5 stars It is easier to nail a blob of mercury, than to describe this novel...
... so read the blurb on the back of my now ancient copy of Pynchon's classic novel. This is my third reading; I've savored less than five other books in a triple read. Read more
Published on 1 April 2011 by John P. Jones III
4.0 out of 5 stars Always another level to be discovered...
If I have one thing to say about reading Thomas Pynchon, it's this: that by the time I finish reading one of his books, I'm sure that I'd understand more of it if I started now. Read more
Published on 2 Dec 2008 by T. Gregory
5.0 out of 5 stars FORTY FOUR YEARS AGO
I've returned to V to so I can give a copy to an American friend who has never heard of Pynchon. Forty four years ago, I was introduced to Thomas Pynchon's V by a fellow Sandhurst... Read more
Published on 20 July 2007 by xerxes
2.0 out of 5 stars Please someone make it stop
From the first paragraph you know the type of person who will like this book. They've read Finnegan's Wake, they wear berets, they drive an electric eco-car. Read more
Published on 25 Jun 2007 by Caterkiller
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best novels we have
I can't add much to what's already been said about Pynchon. He is one of my three or four favorite living writers all of whom have something in common and all of whom, I guess,... Read more
Published on 8 Nov 2006 by Father Thyme
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine literary prose and incredible characterisation.
If you look carefully on Amazon, you’ll find more books ABOUT the writings of Thomas Pynchon than you will BY Thomas Pynchon. Read more
Published on 24 Feb 2004 by "burri"
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, maybe a classic!!
If you look carefully on Amazon, you’ll find more books ABOUT the writings of Thomas Pynchon than you will BY Thomas Pynchon. Read more
Published on 24 Feb 2004 by "burri"
5.0 out of 5 stars Twisty and turny but thoroughly fulfilly read.
If you look carefully on Amazon, you’ll find more books ABOUT the writings of Thomas Pynchon than you will BY Thomas Pynchon. Read more
Published on 24 Feb 2004 by "burri"
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