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Virginia Wesleyan College
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Student Research Projects

Thomas Pynchon’s Theatrics in Gravity’s Rainbow

Student Maura Bradley
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Stephen Hock
Department English
Course ENG 472: Senior Seminar: Gravity’s Rainbow


This paper delves into Thomas Pynchon’s postmodern novel, Gravity’s Rainbow. In this work, Pynchon abandons traditional novelistic discourse for a writing style heavily influenced by film and theatre. Pynchon creates visual spectacles through his cinematic writing style, thereby creating his own theatrics. He uses cinematic imagery and writing to not only entertain and grab the attention of his readers, but also to challenge their beliefs about novelistic discourse.

As the story begins to break out of the novel, the author behind the curtain of written words is brought to the foreground. Because the novel is a print medium, imitating other media, especially that of cinema, the reader is aware that there is still an author behind the scenes creating the visual spectacle and making the readers work for enjoyment and understanding. The forced interaction in this postmodern novel is what makes it interesting and different from the mediums it references and imitates. Through print, Pynchon is able to synthesize theatrical and cinematic elements to create an interactive and personal experience for readers.

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