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Über die Weihnachtstage könnte man sich doch mal wieder einen Klassiker gönnen, habe ich mir so gedacht. Je dicker und anspruchsvoller desto besser, wann hat man schon so viel Zeit. Acht Tage und gut 800 Seiten später bin ich nun verwirrt, beeindruckt, begeistert, schockiert und mitgerissen und stehe nun vor der Aufgabe, diese so unterschiedlichen Eindrücke in eine Rezension verpacken zu wollen. Meyers Großes Taschenlexikon hat mir nicht wirklich dabei geholfen, meine Gedanken zu ordnen. Dort heißt es nämlich unter dem Eintrag Thomas Pynchon: "Dabei dient ihm die kulturpess. Metaphorisierung der Entropie ebenso zur Veranschaulichung seiner Zivilisationskritik wie die Darstellung paranoider Ängste angesichts der als undurchschaubar erlebten Realität". Da steh ich nun, ich armer Tor...
Doch trotz der hier attestierten Entropie weißt Thomas Pynchons Hauptwerk "Gravity's Rainbow", ein, wenn nicht sogar das Hauptwerk der literarischen Postmoderne, einen klaren Hauptplot auf, der auch ohne Sekundärliteratur deutlich zu erkennen ist: Der paranoide und sexsüchtige Tyrone Slothrop arbeitet während des Zweiten Weltkrieges in England für die Organisation PISCES (Pschological Intelligence Schemes for Expediting Surrender). Slothrop hat die Eigenschaft, kurz vor Raketeneinschlägen immer eine Erektion zu bekommen. Er will diesem Geheimnis auf die Spur kommen und begibt sich daher auf eine Odyssee durch ein geisterhaftes Deutschland in den Monaten nach der Kapitulation. Hier trifft er, größtenteils im Drogenrausch, auf jede Menge seltsame Gestalten und findet schließlich den Grund für sein "Gebrechen": Als Kind hat ihn sein Vater an die IG Farben verkauft, um für das Geld seine Ausbildung zu finanzieren. Der wahnsinnige Wissenschaftler Laszlo Jamf hat Tyrone dann so konditioniert, dass er auf den Stoff Imoplex G mit sexueller Erregung reagiert. Genau dieser Stoff wurde auch beim Bau der A4 und V2 verwendet, was Slothrops erotische Verbindung zu diesen Waffen erklärt.
So weit, so gut. Doch der Hauptplot wird immer wieder durch ganz seltsame Episoden erweitert. Gleich zu Beginn wandert der Soldat "Pirate" Prentice durch London und nimmt erstaunt zur Kenntnis, dass St. Paul's Cathedral von einem riesigen Polypen gefressen wird. Am Ende des Romans berichtet der Erzähler von Byron der Glühbirne und dessen Lebensgeschichte, die ihm unter anderen in das Zimmer einer Prostituierten führt, wo er in diverse Körperöffnungen der sexgierigen Kundschaft eingeführt wird. Armer Byron...
Und immer wieder Sex! Im Roman wimmelt es nur so vor sinnlichen, abstoßenden, perversen und extravaganten Sexszenen. Diese stehen teilweise nur wenige Zeilen von Abschnitten getrennt, die schockierender und bewegender kaum sein können. Ein Beispiel: Pökler, ein Ingenieur, der am Bau der V2 in Nordhausen beteiligt ist, sucht im direkt an die Fabrik angeschlossenen KZ Dora nach seiner Geliebten. Als er durch diese Hölle auf Erden wandert, fällt es ihm wie Schuppen von den Augen, für welch ein Regime er gearbeitet hat: "The odors of shit, death, sweat, sickness, mildew, piss, the breathing of Dora, wrapped him as he crept in staring at the naked corpses being carried out, now that America was so close, to be stacked in front of the crematoriums, the men's penises hanging [...] where it was darkest und smelled the worst, Pökler found a woman lying, a random woman. He sat for half an hour holding her bare hand. She was breathing. Before he left, he took of his gold wedding ring and put it on the woman's thin finger, curling her hand to keep it from slidinf off" (432ff.;Teil 3, Abschnitt 11).
Und was soll das Ganze? Was ist die Message? Nun, eine richtige Antwort auf diese Frage gibt es wohl nicht. "Gravity's Rainbow" bietet so viel, dass jeder Leser etwas für sich finden kann. Thomas Pynchon sieht die Welt als Chaos ohne klar erkennbare Struktur und genau das spiegelt sich auch in der Vielschichtigkeit seines Werkes wieder.
Fazit: Nur Mut, trauen Sie sich an dieses Meisterwerk. Es gibt nicht viele Romane, die das Potenzial haben, die Horizonte ihrer Leser zu erweitern. Dieser Roman gehört definitiv dazu!
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 13. August 1997
There are a number of reasons one might write a review of a book. Most of these reasons aren't all that helpful when it comes to Gravity's Rainbow.
One reason is to provide potential readers with a sense of the book (plot, structure, style, characterization). The best way to get a sense of Gravity's Rainbow is to read the first page. It basically goes on like that for another seven or eight hundred more.
Another reason is to enlighten the world with your sparkling insight into the subtlties of symbolism and layers of meaning in the book. With regard to Gravity's Rainbow, you can save that stuff for your weekly book club. The symbolism and layered meaning in GR are about as subtle as a rocket attack on a movie theater. This is why GR is often compared to Finnegan's Wake. If you've ever watched Joseph Campbell explain that novel, you realize that the search for deep intellectual insight is a conceit. These novels require your best effort just to understand the LITERAL stuff.
Another reason to review a book is to provide your own subjective opinion about the overall quality of the experience. I've found that many such GR reviews fall into one of two camps: "I read 'X' pages and couldn't/didn't finish it" or "Thomas Pynchon is God". The problem with reviews like this is that they say more about the meta-experience (sorry, but that is the appropriate word) of reading the book than they do about the book itself. Those of us who finish it are subject to a kind of "Iron John" machismo which falls apart if we are forced to admit that the whole thing might be a colossal put-on. On the other hand, those who give up can't help feeling that perhaps they are missing the big IT and don't like feeling that they might be unable to appreciate genius.
So is it the Emperor's New Clothes, or Pearls Before Swine?
It doesn't matter. The question is probably meaningless anyway.
If you like incredibly obscure cultural references, if you like dense imagery, if you like chilling portrayals of paranoia and the dire consequences to humans when people with power succumb to it and if you like conspiracy theory, you'll dig this book.
I do, so I did.
On the other hand, if you're hung up on little things like narrative structure, characterization, plot, etc., I'd stay away.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 20. Juni 2000
... but I'm 15 and I absolutely loved this damn book. I'm not a child prodigy or a genuis or anything like that either, I just enjoy good writers and good writing, and that's all here in strides. Sure it's hard and complex, and if you're just wanting something to read on the beach or something disposable to get you to sleep at night, then don't come here. But if you're up for the challenge and love a great story, then you shouldn't have any problems. I like what William Gass said in his introduction to the Penguin 20th Century Classics edition of William Gaddis' The Recognitions about how you shouldn't strive to finish it in one gigantic sitting, but you should take your time (months, years, decades) and allow the book to become a kind of friend that you can pick up and visit whenever you feel in the mood. That applies to this phenomonal book as well, and I have to admit it took me over half a year to finish it myself, as I often took month long breaks and read other material. This is a book to be bought and returned too, not simply just another book you pick up at the library.
And as far as my take on the novel, I take it to be a representation of the world after the events that take place in the story. From the drug use to the birth of a mechanical world with computers and new and more deadly forms of war fare, it all represents to me what would come after and even maybe because of World War II. Well, that's the only conclusion that I could come too in order to explain the confounding ending at least (the movie theater and allusions to Nixon). But aside from the deeper meanings, this novel is a drug induced thrill ride. There are so many great action scenes and dialouges in the book, that it's overwhelming to have to go back after your through and too pick out your favirotes. I loved the chase sequences after Slothrop, the scenes of Roger and Jessica alone at night in bed as the Rockets descended upon their city, the incredible opening allusions, the heartbreaking last appearance of Roger at the dinner as he finally comes to grips with the reality that he lost the one he loved, the crazy, cinematic, and beautiful ending, and on, and on, and on. If you're serious about reading and Literature, this is a must. This book has more to offer then any other I've ever come across, and if you're willing to put up a lot of effort, you will be rewarded. (And hey, I've read that Pynchon didn't even understand a lot of what he wrote as he was at the time of writing it ... on various drugs... it was the early 70's after all).
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am 4. März 1999
I read this all the way through. At 35, that sounds funny, but it was a struggle at times. I agree with everything everyone here has said about it, pro and con. For those who admire its writing, I can easily point you to gorgeous passages, that I read three or four times for sheer pleasure. For those that say it's prose is terrible, I can point you to many passages that are unreadable, and that I read three or four times out of frustration, and still leave me baffled. Some of the "humor" is on the level of junior high flatuence jokes, and makes me feel almost embarrassed for Pynchon. Some of it is genuinely funny.
I found some themes in the book that I thought were well crafted and thought provoking. I found many thematic and stylistic aspects - such as the depth of paranoia, the lack of chronology, the excessive and dull descriptions of sex acts, the fact that you're never really sure whether there is any real time and place in any of the tale - impossible to relate to.
Some things that are not here for a first reader (at least without an annotated guide): a story and character development. I missed these things; I've grown attached to them. Without these fundamental elements, I'm not sure if I'm reading a novel. On the other hand, just because it isn't a novel, doesn't mean it's not worth reading. Just be prepared.
I'm glad I read it. The "good" parts were worth the frustration. I make no judgment on Mr. Pynchon, as many detractors and worshipers seem to. Because he is obscure and confusing, doesn't necessarily mean he's showing off, nor does it mean he's a genius. Several posters have said that he should make his "point" clearly - true, if he has a point, which maybe isn't always the case. He's certainly self-absorbed, and asks much of the reader for an uncertain payoff. He very well might be completely insane for all I know. I'll probably read it again sometime.
Most people know whether they'll like this before they pick it up. Guage your reactions to these reviews; your instincts are probably right.
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am 25. Februar 1999
When I first read this book I did so without wanting to put any effort into it. I was lazy. I didn't bother to look up any of the historical, scientific, or pop cultural references. Moreover, if a difficult word popped up I didn't bother to reach for a dictionary to find out what it meant. Often I'd think to myself, 'Who is Clausewitz?' or 'What is a narodnik?', and then I'd move on without finding out what these terms actually meant ( even though I could have found an answer right away by simply typing any of these terms into an internet search engine ). The process was arduous, painful, and frustrating. I hated this book. I simply didn't know what he was saying because I couldn't put anything into context. The second time I read Gravity's Rainbow I purchased an annotated guide, while also making an effort to find some of the more obscure references myself. Though I can't claim to understand everything he was saying, I did grow comfortable scrabbling about Pynchon's exotic little universe. I came to respect the genius of this book, both in a thematic and artistic sense. I believe that one of Pynchon's goals is to dare the reader into reading this book. Simply put, he wants us to work. Kierkegaard said that being a Christian should not be an easy task. The same is true, I think, in literature. For, the safer literature gets, the more it comes to resemble TV. Yes, on the surface this book is difficult, even pretentious. But if you work at it, that is, actually make an effort to understand Pynchon's somewhat obscure references and his abstruse vocabulary, the results are most rewarding. Simply put, he's not going to spoonfeed literature to his audience. Nor, as a reader, should you want to be spoonfed.
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am 8. August 1997
What can you take away from this book with any certainty? Pynchon seems to talk around and around his great "themes" (paranoia, homosexuality, drugs, decadence, etc.) a great deal, but does he ever actually say anything? It seems to me it's very easy to be "a literary master" in this way. It's much more difficult to write something very clear and simple that people can easily understand (and yet still be profound and say something new).
Pynchon likes to impress. He seems to enjoy fact dropping like a groupie dropping names at a cocktail party. (This earned him the crooning admiration on the back of my paperback edition: '...the learning of a John Barth...') But like the groupie, there is always that suspicious lack of depth, of detail... Try to pin him down and whoah! there he goes off on something entirely different again. And here he is reeling off more shallow "facts" and references, preferably in German, preferably things he doesn't expect you know much about...
GR has often been likened to Ulysses or Moby Dick. But all it really has in common with these true greats is a large number of pages and a "difficult" style. This is why it's held in such esteem. It's just so damned long and difficult. Those who don't finish it (the majority) don't feel qualified to comment. Then there's the holier-than-thou, "emperor's new clothes" attitude of those who grit it out. Would it have got the same acclaim at 250 pages? When the buzz dies down, I rather doubt GR will stand the test of time.
And then there's this issue of humor. "Desperately funny" (whatever that means) trills the back of my paperback edition. I didn't find anything in the novel even the slightest, remotest bit funny. To me 'funny' means when you laugh. A real laugh. Not an "Eh!" to indicate you "got" a complex bit of sophistry, but a prolonged "Ha ha ha ha!", preferably incapacitating you for a short period of time. Woody Allen used to be funny. Monty Python was occasionally funny. Hell, even bits of Gargantua and Pantagruel were funny. Gravity's Rainbow is *not* funny. Humor needs specificity, characterization, familiarity. Pynchon has a hard time with specificity. When he gets bored of a scene-- zip zip we're off somewhere else again. Characterization is practically non-existent. Characters are just names thrown at us that occasionally crop up again. In more than a few scenes the novel is actually embarrassing to read, where Pynchon is obviously *trying* to be funny-- such as the scenes where he does horrible boffo parodies of homosexual characters. There's an underlying meanness to GR that is antithetical to humor. The characters are often sadistic. The novel itself is mean to its readers. Humor needs an underlying generosity.
With its sidelines admiration of drugs and decadence, GR is a novel straight out of some 1970s nightmare. It uses slang (natch) to try to be hip-intellectual and then fires out frequent volleys of "facts" and "references" to cover its tracks. But ultimately I think you'd have to be pretty naive to fall for its patter. It's just "Jitterbug Perfume" or any other Tom Robbins novel with a Phd. instead of a major in auto shop, a Jaguar instead of a Camaro, and a gold card instead of a pay packet. But it still wears the same nasty cologne and has the same fulsome desires. Tell it you're not that kinda girl.
am 18. April 2000
It was April 1999 when I first stumbled across Pynchon - in the twelve months between then and now I have read all of Pynchon's books, but left this daunting masterpiece till the end. Probably right. I can now judge it in all its glory. This is undoubtedly all those things everyone else has said: the Great Postwar Novel, the Great American Novel, one of the top five novels of the century. I was simply astonished by its sheer brilliance and technical trailblazing in every department. No book has ever seemed so unique to me. And, although it will sound stupid, this is the only book that I have finished feeling a different person. I'm not aware of any book that has so much in it, in terms of ideas, emotions, characters, cultural and scientific references - there is something for everyone here, everyone has their own favourite passage, their own favourite scene, their own favourite quote.
As a Brit I'm always interested as to how Pynchon portrays us, and for the most part in all his books (particularly Mason and Dixon) he does it well. However, in GR there were two points I wanted to rectify before the great American public. First, Pynchon falls into the usual trap of thinking "Britain" and "England" are synonymous - they're not. England is just one part of Britain, as are Scotland and Wales. It's inaccurate and annoying to think they're the same thing. Secondly, there's a grating slip early on, on p.38, where Pynchon mentions "downtown Tunbridge Wells". Let's get this quite clear - no town outside America has a "downtown", and certainly not Tunbridge Wells which is a deeply conservative little place. It may pass unoticed by foreign readers but for Brits is is a slight hiccup.
Anyway, these trifles pale in comparison to the genius and epic stature of this book. What amazed me is that it seems even more relevant today, with out concerns about globalised companies controlling the world. This is an important work of fiction that will never leave you. Read it now!
am 1. April 2000
My favorite novel (if it is a novel). I keep two copies, to be able to give one if I run across the right person (so far, just twice).
In the fifteen years since first learning about it, I suppose I've read it straight through three times. After reaching a certain point of familiarity though, I realized it made just as much sense to read it in a non-linear manner -- you won't gain any more reading it sequentially and the "ending" does not function as one in any traditional sense.
Yes, it is hard to read and disappointing at first. The cut and paste format is a frustrating initial barrier. I didn't finish it the first two times I started it, but every time I put it back on the shelf it acquired more weight than the books around it. So many of these reviews concentrate on the difficulty of reading this, but it's not a "get it/don't get it" book, despite all the comments to the contrary, and reducing it to a simple binary doesn't begin to do it justice.
Others may have been written before this, but Gravity's Rainbow is the world's finest Random-Access Manuscript. Drop your cortex on any page and be entertained. You will be placed in the immediate presence of a ferocious intelligence (is there any other fiction work of this stature that has inlaid nature, science and engineering so adroitly?) and, more importantly, a ferocious heart. Don't be fooled by the sex, drugs and gross juvenile humor (yes, there's a lot of all three). This is a passionate, epic evocation of the world at large, and will not be reduced or bound to definition.
It is _not_ frivolous _or_ the work of a burn-out. The discipline and energy in it is singular both in the author's writing (no, I don't think that Mason & Dixon is as good, despite its maturity) as well as in literature in general. I like some of the other authors whose names are compared here, but there is no meaningful comparison.
A help guide for this book is like the proverbial vivisection -- you may think you're learning a lot, but the frog will be dead when you're done. Challenge yourself: go it alone and leave the tour guides for someone else, or come back to them when you have more familiarity with it.
Thirty years after a novel was written about a time thirty years before it, the world has yet to catch up to it, and that's _not_ an April Fool's joke!
am 28. Januar 2000
I first read this book when I was 16, and it was the Spanish translation. Later on, I read it in English, and although I consider it one of the best, most complex books I have ever read, I was a little disappointed in the rest of Pynchon's production. I think he reached his zenith with "Rainbow" and it has been all downhill ever since. The book is not easy to read, and the action is not easy to follow, because the author likes to take the scenic route to enrich our view, so we get the whole treatment with physics, engineering, strategy, espionage, sex, love, fear, paranoia, and an assortment of other fields -some strange, some crude- that provide us with the view of a world gone mad from the prizm of an author that seems to have been down the rabbit hole once or twice. The only thing that has always bothered me about "Gravity's Rainbow" is my inability to understand its ending. I want to believe the author designed it in such a way that it would be very ambiguous, but I am really not sure. In any case, a great reading experience, although, reader, beware: those who look for uplifting messages; those who don't like harsh language; those who don't like depictions of sex; those who would not be able to read through very descriptive passages of (one hopes) less than popular and rather grotesque sexual practices; those who would not continue reading after the lavishly descripted love scene between a grown man and a twelve year-old girl; those who dislike "dense", descriptive literature; those who don't really go for the stream of consciousness stuff; those who don't like war books; those who have read this far and already hate the book and the review; all those potential readers should know that in "Gravity's Rainbow" you get hundreds of pages of what I have just outlined, and more. If you don't think you can stomach this list, move on to other books: there are plenty of good ones out there. This one is good, but not for all tastes.
am 18. Januar 2000
I've read the book all the way through five times and certain parts of it, say, up to ten times. (So obviously I like it.) And it's true, as they say, that on each reading you find something new. And fresh perspective.
How to prepare for Gravity's Rainbow to get the most out of it? Well, if style's a problem, I suggest reading W.S. Burroughs, D. Barthelme, and early I. Reed. (Comparisons to light weights like Wallace, Vollman, Stephenson strike this reader as absurd.) Perhaps it's not discussed as much as it ought to be, but GR's style owes a lot to the famous Buroughs "cut-up" method used to great in effect in the Soft Machine trilogy. The only difference being that in GR the splices in the text are made to seem seamless. The resulting style, then, is comparable to the associations in a dream. GR is basically a *dreamscape*. Do our dreams have plots and consistent characterization? Not usually, and so it's no surprise that GR also lacks these.
Style aide, as for the content. You don't need an encyclopedia or concordance, etc. to enjoy this novel. Believe or it or not, it's true. Of course, it's also fun to treat it like a big tome of clues. . . and to follow their leads . . . somewhere. But first and foremost it's the beautiful palimpsest of a dream. It takes some practice perhaps for a first-time reader to adapt to the flow, so to speak.
How does GR compare to Pynchon's other works? IMO, it far surpasses all them. If I were to assign a second place, it would be to V., definitely not CoL 49 which Pynchon has in fact repudiated (see intro to Slow Learner), nor the rather trite Vineland, nor Manson&Dixon (if only the latter had been written entirely in the style of the opening pages). Anyhow, none of these novels can in any meaningful sense "prepare" the first time reader for GR.
It's more than a novel, it's Work. A reader should treat it that way.