The Crying of Lot 49

An Examination of the Cultural Divide in The Crying of Lot 49 College

“There are still the poor, the defeated, the criminal, the desperate, all hanging in there with what must seem a terrible vitality.” Thomas Pynchon, “A Journey into the Mind of Watts” The challenge posed to any reader of “serious” literature is ultimately one of observation, understanding, and synthesis. He regards a work as a collection of intricate components, each of which he must examine thoroughly, measuring one against another, alternately holding them up to the focused light of his mind, until finally he is able to say with certainty that he understands the work as a body of unified parts. As a work of near impenetrability, The Crying of Lot 49 is all but immune to this kind of analytical comprehension. It is a work founded entirely on uncertainty, and therefore concerns itself with both everything and nothing; it either sojourns into a deeply rooted conspiracy centuries of years in the making or simply catalogues the mental disarray of a woman attempting to execute a will.

To trace the parabolic arc of its plot is to become fully disoriented by the maniacal whims of Nazi therapists, by names such as Mike Fallopian that resist even the most apt psychoanalysis, and by the ultimate unreliability of a harrowed protagonist....

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