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Mason & Dixon Paperback – 2 Apr 1998

4.2 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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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: 12.9 x 4.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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By A Customer on 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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