A Screaming. . .
Pynchon Criticism

Shorter Works

The following titles are companions, guides, and collections of critical essyas centering on Pynchon's "shorter" works: V., The Crying of Lot 49, and Vineland. The list is arranged by publishing date within book-specific sections, and as any casual perusal will reveal, many of them lack commentary. Spermatikos Logos welcomes any informed reviews or comments, so please feel free to email us!


A Companion to V.

J. Kerry Grant

University of Georgia Press, 2001, ISBN 0820322512; Paperback $18.00. [Browse/Purchase]

Although not as challenging to a beginning reader as Gravity's Rainbow or Mason & Dixon, Pynchon's first novel, V., is still quite epic in scope: with over 150 characters, it sprawls across dozens of exotic locales and covers the better part of a century. Additionally, as with most of Pynchon's work, V. is open-ended, defying traditional expectations of plot development and closure. It is therefore neither an easy book to read nor a simple one to understand, and until now, the general reader was forced to go it alone -- there are no "Cliff Notes" to V., and most Pynchon criticism is either out of print or focused on his later works. (Though Tim Ware's online guide to V. at HyperArts has always been useful to those comfortable with the Web!)
J. Kerry Grant has stepped in to fill this void with A Companion to V., an attractive volume that will please both beginner and scholar alike. Author of A Companion to "The Crying of Lot 49," Grant follows in the noble footsteps of Steven Weisenburger (Gravity's Rainbow) and Don Gifford (Ulysses), producing a volume of annotations which both gloss unfamiliar terms as well as stimulate deeper analysis. Beginning with a short introduction, Grant points out that Pynchon's novel exists in a state between two very different characters, the static Profane and the maniacally-directed Stencil, and that readers are cut loose between these two poles to find their own bearings. Through his introduction and the annotations themselves, Grant makes it clear that he offers no definitive interpretation -- his goal is to assist readers in the production of their own meanings. It is here that Grant's Companion really proves its worth. While the traditional glosses are certainly helpful -- summarizing chapters, translating non-English passages, explaining Naval jargon, and elaborating on arcane historical situations -- the real work is done in between these student aids. Character names are dissected for potential meanings, recurring themes are discussed and elaborated, intertextual allusions are highlighted and connected to a wide body of culture and literature, and even the smallest plot points may serve as seeds for a variety of possible interpretations. Grant also remains sensitive to competing ideas, and his erudition is impressive -- he makes frequent references to a wide spectrum of Pynchon criticism, from out-of-print books to online discussions culled from the Pynchon List.
Though A Companion to V. will certainly frustrate any reader looking for a definitive analysis of Pynchon's enigmatic novel, to those wishing a deeper exploration of its many ideas and themes, Grant's book is a fertile resource rich with charming details and provocative suggestions.

The Crying of Lot 49

Beyond and Beneath the Mantle: On Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49

Georgiana M. M. Colvile

Rodopi Bv. Editions, 1988, ISBN 9051830572; Paperback; $21.00. [Browse/Order]

The work is volume 68 of the Costerus New Series. We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us!

New Essays on The Crying of Lot 49

Patrick O'Donnell, editor

1. Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0521381630; Hardcover; Out-of-Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

2. Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0521388333; paperback; $16.00. [Browse/Order]

We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us! From the Publisher:

The Crying of Lot 49 is widely recognized as a significant contemporary work that frames the desire for meaning and the quest for knowledge within the social and political contexts of the '50s and '60s in America. In the introduction to this collection of original essays on Thomas Pynchon's important novel, Patrick O'Donnell discusses the background and critical reception of the novel. Further essays by five experts on contemporary literature examine the novel's "semiotic regime" or the way in which it organizes signs; the comparison of postmodernist Pynchon and the influential South American writer, Jorge Luis Borges; metaphor in the novel; the novel's narrative strategies; and the novel within the cultural contexts of American Puritanism and the Beat movement. Together, these essays provide an examination of the novel within its literary, historical, and scientific contexts.

A Companion to The Crying of Lot 49

J. Kerry Grant

University of Georgia Press, 2001, ISBN 0820316369; Paperback $14.95. [Browse/Purchase]

We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us!


The Vineland Papers

Geoffrey Greene, editor

1. Dalkey Archive Press, 1993, ISBN 1564780384; Hardcover; Out-of-Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

2. Dalkey Archive Press, 1993, ISBN 1564780392; Paperback; $14.95. [Browse/Order]

We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us! Here is what an Amazon.com reviewer has to say:

A tough book to find, but when you do, it's worth it. The essays in this collection are informative, shedding light onto such slippery aspects of the novel as style, recurring motifs, Pynchon's humor, the novel's narrative structure, and satirical targets. The final work in the collection is a memoir by someone who allegedly got high with the notoriously reclusive author in the late-Sixties. Much of the criticism in this collection assumes the reader is familiar with Gravity's Rainbow as a point of reference, so if Vineland is your first go at Pynchon, many of the references in these criticisms will seem difficult understand. Overall, this is a handy book to read once you've finished Vineland and need to make sense of all the wackiness.

Go To:

Criticism Main Page -- Returns you to the Main Criticism page and the Quick Reference Card of titles.

General Criticism -- Criticism, essays, and analyses about Pynchon's writing in general.

Gravity's Rainbow -- Guides and criticism pertaining to Gravity's Rainbow.

Mason & Dixon -- Guides and criticism pertaining to Mason & Dixon.

Critical Bibliography -- Dr Larry Daw's hyperlinked bibliography of selected Pynchon criticism, including books, journals and newspapers.

--Allen B. Ruch
26 January 2003

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