Radical Hope in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon: The Moon and Meteor provides a careful consideration of the author's career, examining the ways in which the subversion of his early novels feeds into the radical optimism of his later works. The book's first half explores the author's use of the image of the Moon as a romanticized ideal that is irreparably corrupted by and corruptly manipulated by forces of worldly power. The second half takes up the meteor as an image of impending violence that has yet to be full realized, finding in the unlikely possibility of that violence being somehow averted, a reckless sort of hope. This foolhardy but nonetheless real hope to escape from violent, oppressive structures and forge a real ethical obligation to the other marks the development of these paired metaphors, and through them Pynchon introduces the possibility, however slight, that literature, with its powerfully intimate relationship with consciousness, may at least sustain that hope.
Phillip D. Grayson is assistant professor of English at Tennessee State University.
Introduction: The Ocean of Storms (The Sea Ascertained)
Part I: The Moon
Chapter One: Mare Tranquillitatis: The Failure of Idealism in Gravity’s Rainbow
Chapter Two: Mare Moscoviense: The Failure of Reason in Mason & Dixon
Chapter Three: Oceanus Procellarum: The Failure of Cynicism in the Early Novels
Part II: The Meteor
Chapter Four: Mare Cognitum (Ahnighito): Meteoric Violence in Against the Day
Chapter Five: Saviksoah: The Meteoric Hiatus in V. and Gravity’s Rainbow
Chapter Six: Tunguska: Meteoric Vision
Chapter Seven: Chicxulub: Meteoric Consciousness in The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity’s Rainbow
Chapter Eight: ‘Oumuamua: Meteoric Grace in Bleeding Edge
About the Author