British WW2 Lt. Tyrone Slothrop, once test subject of one Lazlo Jamf, is mistakenly penned for having a precognitive penis when hsi random sexual encounters around London follow the same distribution as the random landing of V2 rockets in London, as the war draws to a close and the situation with V2 bombings get dire, the Allied powers close in on Slothrop as a subject in need of research, sending him on the run from his R&R in France, up to Switzerland and into the rest of Post-War Europe known as The Zone.
Meanwhile, other shadowy figures have put Slothrop onto the trail of the illusive rocket 00000 and its secret device The S-Gerat, and believing the 00000 holds the answers he seeks, Slothrop turns his attention to tracking it down whilst losing the authorities, his search for the 00000 takes him through the European Black Market, all manner of Post War undergrounds and puts him into contact with the AWOL German Special force The Schwarzkommando - a secret army of African Nazis since defected from the cause also interested in the 00000 - which may prove to be the key to why he was put onto the 00000 to begin with.
Along the way, Slothrop as well as other Zone inhabitants, stumble upon clues of a grand conspiracy of war outside of politics, with forces fuelling both sides of the second world war for various reasons, labeled The Force or The Rocket Cartel, this conspiracy eventually find its dialectical opposite in The Counterforce, Zone idealists (including the Schwarzkommando) fighting the machinery of war - often symbolically - in whatever ways they can, with one group out of London aiming to rescue our hero Slothrop from The Zone and bring him home.
Eventually Slothrop happens upon evidence of the 00000's launching under the private control of mad Nazi Captain Weissman "Blicero", a man pulled between a desire for death and a fear of death who believes he can move 'Beyond The Zero' in the launching of the 00000 with the S-Gerat being a compartment to house his sacrifice to the machinery of war - Blicero's symbolic son and favorite sex slave, the young Nazi boy Gottfried.
On his final days wandering The Zone, where Slothrop has made a myth of himself as The Rocketman, and becoming a hero of heists, black market drug deals, and Counterforce activities, finds himself lost, the 00000 already fired yet still mysterious to Slothrop, and teetering on insanity, turns his sights on escape, to getting home, which he tries to arrange through various Black Market connections (such Lords of The Underground Gerhardt Von Goll (Der Springer) and Syndicate Mafioso Blodgett Waxwing) but ultimately fails, while his rescue team from The Counterforce peters out, and the narrative fragments into obscurity as Slothrop's mind is finally broken and the launching of Blicero's 00000 is recounted, the final passage of the book is a mysterious 2nd person address in which the reader is implicated as the next victim of a V2.
>>7632741 Ah, well, yes, I think the book's reputation is a little overblown as far as difficulty goes, but it IS confusing by design, and not really a book meant to be summarized. My summary omits many major characters and plot arcs, and I kind of simplified things to make one linear story. In actuality it's very fragmented, has more than a dozen "main" characters, constantly goes into digression, is often very surreal and symbolic, and on a "plot" level is intentionally convoluted to the point where it's near impossible to tell who's playing who the first time you read it. It also hangs entire passages on obscure references to history or literature or the occult, and is filled with the odd passage that rambles off into incomprehensibility.
STILL - I think it is pretty readable as long as you accept you aren't going to understand everything nor are you meant to. It gets its reputation from people who expect a book to make immediate sense to them and give them a moral message at the end to tie things together. The action in Gravity's Rainbow is largely symbolic or implied, and the ""meaning"" is anything but clear cut, more interested in exploring questions than pretending to answer them.
As one critic said, it should be read more like a poem than a novel.
>>7632765 Do you have any tricks to read the way you mention it should be read? The times I've attempted to read the novel I take 45 minutes per page, breaking down every single word. It's something I cannot avoid. I've attempted doing so with the wiki by my side. I think the wiki is quite distracting, so I attempted doing so with a dictionary by my side, I think the dictionary is quite distracting. I also filled up a notepad fairly quickly without having even completed Beyond the Zero. Do you recommend just reading the novel without much thought placed into it during a first reading?
>>7632812 No, I think the struggle is a very intentional and important part of the book. Assuming ~45 minutes is a (slight) exaggeration, that sounds just like how I went through it the first time. Reading Pynchon is a very active sort of reading, you either dig for your own answers or you'll leave empty-handed. If that's not what you're looking for by all means breeze through the book, but it's a question how much you'll get out of it.
With that said, a lot of it is up to discretion. I haven't ever read alongside a dictionary, and I haven't read anything Pynchon alongside a wiki. Whatever works for you.
>>7632822 >>7632812 I can't help but feel like this is bad advice to some degree. Why don't you consult the wiki when you reach passages too obscure that close reading/ rereading doesn't clarify them? Slogging at 45 mins, or anywhere near that, sounds miserable, unless you know so little about WW2/ 20th century Europe that you have no idea what is going on, in which case honestly another book might just be more enjoyable.
If I can help, I found the hardest part of GR was the large number of characters, and that often when I got lost I could either look them up or I'd commit them to memory from notes and I wouldn't have to consult the wiki for another 20 pages.
I'm really not trying to be a dick but reading the entire book side-by-side with Pynchon-wiki sounds pointless, joyless and frustrating.
>>7633968 I agree completely and wasn't suggesting that, only that, to some degree, the book is going to be an uphill struggle, and resolving everything into place is not going to happen in a skim read where you let everything fly past you.
Like I said to him I don't use a wiki or a dictionary when I read, I definetely agree with you.
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