9. The Crying of Lot 49 (1966): Mimetic Protagonist, Thematic–Synthetic Storyworld

  1. James Phelan

Published Online: 1 APR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118512876.ch9

Reading the American Novel 1920-2010

Reading the American Novel 1920-2010

How to Cite

Phelan, J. (2013) The Crying of Lot 49 (1966): Mimetic Protagonist, Thematic–Synthetic Storyworld, in Reading the American Novel 1920-2010, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118512876.ch9

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 APR 2013
  2. Published Print: 10 APR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780631230670

Online ISBN: 9781118512876

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Keywords:

  • mimetic protagonist;
  • novel;
  • synthetic component;
  • The Crying of Lot 49;
  • thematic component;
  • Thomas Pynchon

Summary

Just as F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby both responds to the Roaring Twenties and influences our understanding of that period, so too does Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 respond to the 1960s and help shape our understanding of that decade. This chapter focuses on how Pynchon makes all three components of Oedipa Maas's character central to the progression, even as he makes the synthetic and thematic components of his other characters more prominent than their mimetic components. Much of the novel's power comes from Pynchon's ability to intertwine our own sense of uncertainty about Tristero with our sympathetic responses to Oedipa's valiant but frustrating detective work. Indeed, the effectiveness of Pynchon's radically open ending depends on this intertwining.