"V." by Thomas Pynchon. Reviewed by ~sittyv-salsug

by ~darlur, published on

People tend to associate Thomas Pynchon with post-modernism, however, I don't think he wrote about post-modernism in a hopefull way. I think he wrote about post-modernism to warn society of the pit that it is descending into. His novel,V., is in my opinion, the perfect example of this.

On the surface V. is a series of intertwined stories and loosley related characters that occur over the span of about 100 years. Despite this roughly 100 year timeline, the book follows philosophical paradigms as far back as the renaissance (perhaps further), and charts their evolution, or as I beleive Pynchon meant to show, their de-generation into 1960s post-modernism. The book was written in 1963. This de-generation ultimatly leads to a kind of mechanisation of humans through the centuries, with the will of human beings now being subjugated to forces that are metaphysically lower than humans.

The main character of the book Benny Profane isn't really much of a protaganist at all, he just kind of floats through life and is moved by greater forces. A large part of the book is describing these forces that subjugate us as humans, whether they be Jungian, Fruedian, Christian, and now technological.

The surface story appears as disjointed and schizophrenic, but the bulk of the story is in the symbolism. There are many layers and I doubt I even scratched the surface.

I personally enjoyed this book and what I got out of it was perhaps not what Pynchon intended. The explanation of certain abstract philosphical and religous concepts shown through fictional stories in a way that can't be described by the dictionary definitions. So for example, the idea of making a sacrifice to a god can't really be described in any logical way, but seeing it play out in a fictional setting gave me some insight into this idea.