Gravity's Rainbow

Gravity's Rainbow

by Thomas Pynchon


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A Penguin Classic

Winner of the 1973 National Book Award, Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern epic, a work as exhaustively significant to the second half of the twentieth century as Joyce's Ulysses was to the first. Its sprawling, encyclopedic narrative and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society make it an intellectual tour de force.

This Penguin Classics deluxe edition features a specially designed cover by Frank Miller along with french claps and deckle-edged paper.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780670348329
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 02/28/1991
Pages: 76
Product dimensions: 5.03(w) x 7.73(h) x 0.56(d)

About the Author

Thomas Pynchon is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Slow Learner, a collection of short stories, Vineland , Mason and Dixon and, most recently, Against the Day. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.

Frank Miller is the author and illustrator of Sin City and the 1986 Batman comic The Dark Knight Returns, which is regarded as a milestone in the superhero genre.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

May 8, 1937

Place of Birth:

Glen Cove, Long Island, New York


B. A., Cornell University, 1958

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Gravity's Rainbow 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
fattrucker More than 1 year ago
Bought this book in paperback back in the seventies, back when I was all into Phillip K Dick and Hunter Thompson. It's Catch 22 on acid. I've read it through twice with added ocassional visits over the years. It's a peek behind the curtain of the post WW2 world order, but it's the zany cast of characters with their hilarious names that sticks with you over the years. There is just one bizarre scene after another, after another. It would make the most fantastic mini series if only Pynchon weren't such a curmudgeon. You can pick it up and start on virtually any page. It's the perfect "desert island" book. You can finish it, BUT you'll never be quite finished WITH it. It's difficult to get into, impossible to get out. It's so much more readable than "Finnegan's Wake". Pynchon is the anti Ayn Rand. You'll never look at a multinational corporation in quite the same way again. They don't write them like this anymore. It's wicked fun. It's a challenge. Imagine how smug you'll feel. Not for the lazy or the slow witted.
dsddd More than 1 year ago
Though this award winning book (national book award) is certainly one of the best novels any American has ever written, it is also, for novice readers, one of the most difficult (although equally rewarding) journeys you will take reading. The plot (if you want to call it that) spits in and out of realities and un-realities; unexplained or over-explained plot threads arrive without warning and can fade away just as fast; there are a multitude of different multi-faceted characters; and so many references and factoids that you simply will not get -but that is the point. It is controlled chaos this book, it is as if while you read, if you plow through it, the kaleidoscopic images are printed directly onto your brain, and they will stay there with you forever... it is also wildly funny and witty most of the time, and smart and sick and sophisticated, it is weird and terrifying; and the prose of Pynchon, with its paranoid exasperated tones, and wry sadistic hilarity, are constructed so beautifully and originally and expertly, you may find yourself going back and reading passages over and over for the sheer weight of them; Pynchon's words have this mass to them, this heavy multi-layered quality, an indefinable richness... Be patient with Gravity's Rainbow and stay the course, you'll come out of the missile blown haze a changed person, like with any canonical work... This is certainly a candidate for "the Great American Novel" on that short list with Moby-Dick, The Scarlet Letter, Blood Meridian, As I Lay Dying, The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, Huck Finn, maybe some others...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up GR in preparation for a 20-hour journey from Minneapolis to Hong Kong. Shy of digging a hole and rationing meals to every 100-page mark, there really is no better way to commit yourself to Pynchon. In a pinch, I'd call him a sloppy genius. In a 780-page oeuvre, I'd borrow from his synesthetic narrative some image, discrete and cyclical, some paradox, afterthought and, at once, summing of all existential questions. The book is heavy and dense, literally. Pynchon's themes will at first seem disparate- his scope and style lend themselves to a chaotic appearance- but as you pass milestones in GR and (please, please, please) revisit notable passages, you'll come to see that he leaves no loose ends. He casts no character, no idea, no symbol by the wayside, surely not for good. GR seems to me like poetry written in blank verse. That verse just happens to come in torrential blocks, and to drain the better part of its reader's will power. The novel tackles huge ideas in abstraction. It's insufferably dense, tedious, and self-indulgent, but, in the end, the gems you'll have to cherish will more than justify the effort of slogging through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that I enjoy reading, partly for the challenge of it. Each time I come back to different parts of it, I think understand a little more of what the author was getting at. Even without that, the book is enjoyable for the quality of the writing, the humor and the weirdness.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When reading gravity's rainbow, dont try to understand it. Just don't. The plot is tough to follow and many loose ends never come together, while meaningless scenarios and characters drift in and out constantly. I am sure there is a meaning to it all but unless you are studying it for school(god help you), don't try to understand it. Just enjoy Pynchons amazing writing style. The scenes he describes can be hilarious or disgusting and sometimes he will just break out into song or a movie script. It is fantastic just excellent. Of course i intend to read it again and try to comprehend it, but to the first time reader...just accept it as it is. You shouldn't be dissapointed
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thomas Pynchon has created perhaps the greatest novel in American history. His vivid, surreal portrayals of Europe and WWII give the reader a sense of adventure as well as confusion. His darkly comic tone serves to draw the reader away from conventional literature and toward a new era of chaotic writing, where the seemingly infinite amount of characters all come together in a gratifying sense of accomplishment as the reader explores. We owe it to Thomas Pynchon for giving this incredibly large, witty, and most of all original piece of literature, for it instills a sense of phantasmagoria in us.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What is most amazing and perplexing about the finess and ease Pynchon masterfully writes with is the fact that the book appeals on many different levels. It is his blend of the epoch of intelectualism with the popular culture that is so enthralling to read. If you have just heard about pynchon lately or of his opus, Gravity's Rainbow I suggest acclimating yourself by reading some of his short stories, V, or Crying of Lot 49. I am 15 and discovered Pynchon first in the form of Vineland.If you look at the other reviews around mine, you might see a plethora of different reactions. Great literature( Gravity's Rainbow included)should provoke a range of reactions. From violently throwing the book aside, to conversly, enjoying it ceaselessly and becoming a life long fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
...but I made it to around page 400 of this book. Not that it was bad. Some parts of it were genuinely interesting, entertaining and amusing. But this is the sort of book that's so incredibly dense with hidden meanings and elaborate word games that most of us will never understand it. It is a task for a higher intelligence than mine to make sense of this gargantuan macrocosm. I'd recommend it to fierce literary warriors who enjoy punishment.
puzzleman More than 1 year ago
This is not unreadable because of foul language. It is not unreadable because of disgusting imagery. It is unreadable, because it is incomprehensible. 35 pages. Looking at over 700 more! No way, my friend! So this fella gets a hard-on when he sees or nears a V rocket! Really? So many books, so little time. Not enough time to waste on this labyrinth. If you like James Joyce, go for it!
Bibliosophical More than 1 year ago
I ordered this book for a project I'm doing on postmodernism and I have not been disappointed. This book is funny, exciting, confusing (as with any postmodern piece really), and fantastic. I highly recommend it for any fan of postmodernism.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the beginning one is drawn in to the story's world mystified at first, then laughing, then intent, then baffled, and from there, in a word - awed. And don't be misled - the book is extremely enjoyable and readable. Only if one were to take it seriously would it wear on one's brain. Gravity's Rainbow would have found little favor with Plato, and I don't think it would be on many religious study groups' recommended reading lists. There is much in it which offends and disappoints, so much depravity, so much truth, normally tucked away neatly hidden in our subconsciouses - but Mr. Pynchon is completely unabashed about bringing it to the surface. That he can and does put it into words is what amazed me while reading the book. Gravity's Rainbow, story and all, is more a macrocosmos than a story, a macrocosmos which the author magnifies, sometimes randomly it seems, offering mad glimpses both into beautiful things we would be glad to linger on, and disturbing things we are socially indoctrinated to shy away from. I don't think the purpose of the story is to tell a story so much as to portray the world - it just happens that the figures of Tyrone Slothrop and company provide the best medium. This complex, mystifying world is viewed from a million different angles, explained a million different ways, experienced, understood, comprehended, rightly or wrongly according to theories and feelings which may be ages old, forgotten, current, disgusting, racist, inclusive, ordinary, bizarre, and incomprehensible; remarkably, there is sense to it, but it is naturally impossible to follow at times, like trying to understand or explain the world. People can sometimes deal with their own worlds, but if they were to begin receiving simultaneous sensory input from another's sensory organs besides just their own, they would begin to see just how hard it can be to keep track of things, and respect Thomas Pynchon all the more for what he is able to do with his writing.
GomezGarciaGonzalez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Demands reader exuberance
markalanlaidlaw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ludicrously complex study on paranoia.....fabulous and worth persevering and re reading every 5 years.
Helena81 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Prose is clever and witty, but the lack of coherent narrative meant I couldn't finish this book. I feel a bit of a philistine, but so be it!
isomdm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Worst book I have ever read.
fuzzy_patters on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm really not sure what to think of Gravity's Rainbow. There were times when I could not put the book down. There were other times when I just could not pick it up. At times Pynchon's writing carried me away into his world that is almost our world- but not quite. At other times, I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over until I became bored with it. Then, there were the times when the book just sailed over my head. I think I liked it, but I'm not really sure. Overall, I think it had the potential to be great but it lost its way somewhere but maybe that's just what They want me to think.
clong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a hard book to rate and review. It took me about five months to read. It¿s a book where you often have to reread pages multiple times to figure out what is going on. It¿s a book where you often have to go back and review some scene from 300 pages earlier to remind yourself who a character is and what they¿re all about. There are many stunningly great things about the book: it is often exceedingly funny; it has brilliantly surreal digression after brilliantly surreal digression; it makes you curious about history; it makes you think about today; and it offers a huge cast of colorful, fascinating characters. On the other hand, it is an exceedingly dense and often confusing book, which at times loses momentum and at times wades into quite uncomfortable territory. Characters will pop up and dominate the narrative for several pages, only to disappear forever¿or for several hundred pages at least. And sometimes when they come back, you¿re not really sure whether they¿re the same person or not.In Pynchon¿s world man is a horny, perverted animal, and even the most paranoid amongst us isn¿t nearly as paranoid as we all should be. Our protagonist Slothrop is one of the least interesting characters in the book, a sort of everyman who bumbles his way through a fantastic world.Think Catch 22 meets Ulysses meets Justine meets The Sound of Music, and you¿ll have some idea of what Gravity¿s Rainbow is all about. Like Ulysses, I imagine this is a book that would get better each time you read it. And I will plan to reread it, but not for a few years.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II, the novel centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest undertaken by several characters to uncover the secret of a mysterious device named the "Schwarzgerät" ("black device") that is to be installed in a rocket with the serial number "00000."Frequently digressive, Pynchon subverts many of the traditional elements of plot and character development, and traverses detailed, specialist knowledge drawn from a wide range of disciplines. The novel has been praised for its innovation and complexity, though the acclaim has been criticized by some.
nog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The most important work of fiction in my library.Somewhere I have this amazingly convoluted chart of characters, military commands, corporations, and other entities, with scads of connecting arrows and whatnot to keep everything in some sort of perspective. I think I put that together on my fourth read-through of the book, and it's about 4 square feet in size. As a dude who makes his living writing software, I've considered putting the whole kit and kaboodle into some mammoth HTML document hyperlinked all over the place. But I'm basically too lazy to do that, and anyway, why not stop by the PynchonWiki instead?Seriously, stay calm as you approach reading this book. Daunting as the size is, you will be rewarded if you hang in there, and get some help on the references that you don't understand. Hey, I was lost on all that "elect" and "preterite" stuff the first time around! Take a deep breath and dive in. The book has a lot to say about...well...everything. I'll give up my copy of Gravity's Rainbow when they pry it from my dead fist!
davehartl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Heave the brickbats, brand me a mindless literary clod. For me, this is the greatest novel I've ever read. Period. If I was an author, I would hope fervently for the ability to one day do one-tenth of what this book does.A friend turned me on to this book in 1975. I've read it four times, the last time with the Companion guide. It gets better each time. I stand in awe at the depth of imagination and intellect that created this reality.Greatest. Novel. Ever.Do your worst.
jddunn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This wasn¿t too terribly hard of a read, really. As soon as I dropped notions of trying to figure out what¿s going on right away and just let it sort wash over me, everything went fairly smoothly. It seems like it¿s more about evoking a mood than telling a story anyway. Like atmospheric music almost. I think it¿s given me more of a sense of what the cold, relentless terror of living through years of WWII in Europe must have been like than anything else I¿ve read to date. It¿s really entropic and obfuscatory, but the wordplay, and the interspersed hilarious bits and passages of stark clarity made it more than worth the slog through the hazier parts. Definitely didn¿t get even close to everything out of it that I could have, but I got through it ok, and will probably re-read it some day with a guide to see what else is there.
lislemck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"A screaming comes across the sky" says it all for me.
figre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
That¿s it. I give up. Look, I¿ve plowed through many books ¿ good, bad, pathetic (think The Time Traveler¿s Wife), insufferable, insert your favorite adjective here. I had to stop after 30 pages of Ulysses, but I realized I wasn¿t in the frame of mind to properly read it and will return some day. But this complex piece of gobbledy-gook is not worth any more of my time. 329 of 759 pages and I give up. In fact, I gave up a month or two ago, but thought I might go back. This week I returned, and I just can¿t get up the gumption to care. I checked some reviews to see what I might be missing. Seems I got the plot. What I didn¿t get is why I should care about plunging my way through this Sargasso Sea of a novel to get to that plot or an understanding of the relevance it all has. And reading the reviews I learned that I missed the nuances within that sea ¿ that the number of sections in each chapter matches the eternal equinox or some such psycho-babble. Maybe it¿s all true ¿ but I just don¿t get it. And I just don¿t want it.
gbsallery on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of only two books I have ever stopped reading part-way through. The other is Joyce's Ulysses; the stylistic similarities of the two may have put me off of Gravity's Rainbow on my first attempt, but it was worth another try. Having now completed it, I have to admit that all the vociferous fans of Thomas Pynchon really do have a point: this is a great book. Spectacular. A rich, holographic exploration of tangled themes, scatology (and a little eschatology). Also rockets.In some ways reading the book is like watching literary parkour in rush-hour traffic - you are never sure whether a theme will be developed, or whether it will be hit by another explosive juggernaut of whimsy. Horrid, beautiful, disturbing - Gravity's Rainbow is all these things, with a hallucinatory quality which rewards careless reading. Try to parse too closely, and the work jams up like a balky escapement; relax into it, read with the flow and the lyricism becomes apparent.Worth the persistence!
pfax on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have tried three times to read this book. I have been unable to muster the concentration needed to get involved enough to make sense of it beyond the first few chapters. The language is very beautiful, but I will have to come back to this book at a later time.