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Pynchon’s Dustbin of History

Collecting, Collectivity, and Care for the Past

Roger Bellin

Pages 291 - 202


The almost endless profusion of historically specific detail is central to the historical consciousness enacted in Thomas Pynchon’s long novels. With particular attention to ‘Against the Day’, Pynchon’s longest novel, considered both in the context of his other works and against other American writing of the early 2000s, this paper argues that we should read collecting both as a topos within the novel and as a description of the novel itself—as Pynchon’s way of creating or imagining collectivity. Reading Pynchon’s collections as collectivities is a way of foregrounding the historical politics of the novelistic imagination—reading for the pluralism and the radicaldemocratic imagination at the core of Pynchon’s distinctive narrative form.


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