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Mason and Dixon

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  5,906 ratings  ·  458 reviews
The story of Charles Mason (1728-1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733-1779)—the British surveyors best remembered for running the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland that has come to be known as the Mason-Dixon Line—as re-imagined by bestselling author Thomas Pynchon.

Intermingled with Mason and Dixon's biographies, history, fantasy, legend, speculation, and outright fabri
Paperback, 773 pages
Published January 3rd 2004 by Picador (first published 1997)
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Geoff Balme This book, M&D, is every bit as much fun as V. or G.R.. His latest, The Bleeding Edge I was less thrilled with, it's not as playful, nor complex.…moreThis book, M&D, is every bit as much fun as V. or G.R.. His latest, The Bleeding Edge I was less thrilled with, it's not as playful, nor complex. (less)

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What to say or where to start saying things about this book? Pynchon’s language is unceasingly beautiful; Mason and Dixon are as endearing and animated with pure character as any creations you’ll meet; the book perfectly balances cartoonish absurdity with gently profound melancholy in a rich musical vocabulary; the page is to the prose as air is to music played; the book is inhabited by dream-beings and ghosts and the fantastic, because its realm is pure story; story into story into story; I wou ...more
Bored with the Edna St Vincent Millay of Savage Beauty and tired of the endless formality of complete names in Love in the Time of Cholera, I fished Thomas Pynchon’s Mason and Dixon out of the box it came in weeks ago. Sat down, stirring sugar into the tea I intended to drink while I read, and dropped my spoon.

Page 1: What kind of madness is this?? Oh My God. I’m tingly. No, this is not erotica. I don’t think. I don’t know what it is. But I think I like it. A lot. Dear God. Is the whole thing li
This is a magnificent novel, immense in its scope. It is not an easy read being set in the eighteenth century; Pynchon uses the language, idiom and spelling of the day. Hence very careful reading is required; it is more Fielding than Richardson. The story involves Jeremiah Dixon and Charles Mason (of Mason/Dixon line fame and follows them from England to South Africa (Transit of Venus) to St Helena, on to America to map the aforesaid line, back to Britain and so on.
Pynchon mixes real historical
Charles Mason (1728-1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733-1779) were British astronomers and surveyors, most famous for journeying to North America to resolve the boundary dispute between British colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Their work took four years - from 1763 to 1767 - and the result became known as the Mason-Dixon line, which today stands as the cultural boundary between the northern and southern American states. The duo inspired the reclusive Thomas Pynchon to write this novel, which in ...more
To sum it up in two words, "Mason & Dixon" is, overwhelmingly phenomenal!

Rather than write a review, because how can you review Thomas Pynchon’s work. The man is a genius, who's depth of vocabulary is out of this world, whose knowledge is so vast it’s a wonder he can retain all he knows, and he is one of the most original authors to ever write. So here’s a top ten list of Mason & Dixon, its top ten phenomenal moments if you will.

10. The Vroom sisters messing with Mason
Here are some li
There was little doubt that I was back in Pynchonland when, scant minutes into reading his Aulde English epic, I encountered a talking dog in mid-eighteenth century England as Jeremiah Dixon was becoming acquainted with Charles Mason. From thence the jocular surveying-pair—guided by the gifted, ribald, beautiful prose of Pynchon—make wonderful pit-stops in South Africa and the bleak island of Saint Helena before landing in the Thirteen Colonies to take up the task of settling the disputed border ...more
One grows suspicious of his literariness when his opinions differ from those of the established literary community. While most will tell you that Gravity's Rainbow is Pynchon's finest work, I enjoyed M&D the most. The contemporary author shows that he's still got it, more than 20 years after winning the National Book Award with GV. The narrative is much more straightforward, though the language takes some getting used to (it becomes one of the book's strengths though, and I found myself mim ...more
I am Jeremiah Dixon / I am a Geordie boy / A glass of wine with you, sir / And the ladies I'll enjoy / All Durham and Northumberland / Is measured up by my own hand / It was my fate from birth / To make my mark upon the earth.

He calls me Charlie Mason / A stargazer am I / It seems that I was born to chart the evening sky / They'd cut me out for baking bread / But I had other dreams instead / This baker's boy from the west country / Would join the Royal Society.

I was listening to one of my favour
Oh, where to begin with this gem? Mason & Dixon is Pynchon's most moving novel, a panoramic view of the Enlightenment-gone-human. The author's cozy narration, performed in sometimes anachronistic 18th-century vernacular, lends a playful flavor to this buddies-tale and enhances the mixed-brow humor that makes Pynchon great.

As the tale unfolds, as readers we are continually challenged in our preconceptions of the Age of Reason. We find the Great Minds of Science and Civilization (beyond the ep
David Lentz
The genius resident in this mighty and "prolifick" work is off the charts, lacking borders, bounds and limits. "Mason & Dixon" is a picaresque Iliad by a supremely gifted and inventive storyteller. The "electrick" writing on each of the 773 pages is luminous beyond belief. The characters are deeply human "comick" and "mystick" figures who consistently extend the wit of their banter well beyond the first or second brilliant repartee of each stretch of dialogue. The "vistos" of wild American c ...more
For those of you with aspirations of writing the great American novel, you may want to find a new goal for the next century or so. Mason & Dixon was written recently enough that the news may not yet have caught on (how long did it take for Moby Dick?), so I will tell you now that it is the book. Upon finishing Pynchon's novel, I was seized by no desire greater than to turn back and read it again. I'm not sure why I have thus far resisted, as I don't think that anything I've read since has af ...more
I used to hate Pynchon's novels. I'd never finished one, putting them down after a few pages feeling confused, irritated and bored. Reviewers didn't help: Either they were boys thrilled by his postmodern toys (ooh,shocking, he makes a dig at Clinton with the joke about not inhaling; hacleverha, the narrator is called Rev. Cherrycoke)or they were acolytes in awe who clearly didn't quite get what he was on about(all those postmodern master comments and references to particle physics). Interestingl ...more

I first read this when it came out in '97. I was 24, soon to be married and working a shit phone survey job. I'd bring it into work everyday and read as the computer dialed the numbers of strangers for me. Fits and starts. Hung up on many who answered rather than lose my place. I'd read all Pynchon to this point and like the rest of the world was ecstatic that he followed the disappointing Vineland with a fat historical tome compleat with strange Spelling and Punctuation.

Well, I forgot most of
Mar 20, 2013 Tony marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-s-lit, no-mas
--Uh, Thomas, I tried. I read and re-read Chapter 23 over the course of three days. Now, I admit, alcohol was involved. But nevertheless, that has usually accentuated my appreciation of art, not blocked it. There were lines which were funny but I couldn't tell who was speaking or where it was.

--(If I would ever deign to actually talk to you) That's my genius.

--Your, uh, genius?

--Yes, you idiot, haven't you read the other reviews here?

--Indeed I have. Is why I wasted an otherwise very readable w
That rarest of masterpieces for which no amount of hyperbole seems adequate and the only feeling to be mustered for its detractors is one of profoundest pity.

(Don’t you love when a book is so good you can sound like a total dick talking about it and not care in the least?)
Further evidence of Pynchon's inimitability: a while back, while I was actually reading this, I had the clever and probably misguided idea in the back of my mind to write a review in Mason & Dixon's own style. I had all the grammatical rules figured out; I'd capitalize every concrete noun, replace every 'ic' with 'ick' (e.g. 'politickal'), and apocopate 'through' into 'thro.' And so on. This seemed like a good idea at the time. When I sat down to finally write the damn thing, though, I could ...more
A fantastic book, and an epic story about storytelling. I'm still vibrating from the last chapter; probably the most intimate and beautiful prose Pynchon has written. TP loves contrasts: Mason & Dixon; Jesuit & Quaker; Earth & Stars; North & South; America & England; Slave & Master. Pynchon is never better than those periods and chapters where he is riffing about the recesses of the unspoken, the paths untaken, the caves unexplored. He is able to map the Cartesian coordin ...more
Vit Babenco
“Snow-Balls have flown their Arcs, starred the Sides of Outbuildings, as of Cousins, carried Hats away into the brisk Wind off Delaware,— the Sleds are brought in and their Runners carefully dried and greased, shoes deposited in the back Hall, a stockinged-foot Descent made upon the great Kitchen, in a purposeful Dither since Morning, punctuated by the ringing Lids of various Boilers and Stewing-Pots, fragrant with Pie-Spices, peeled Fruits, Suet, heated Sugar,— the Children, having all upon the ...more
[5.8/6] … It was that wonderful, so much more than any other book I've read in I can't remember how long. Though not without a human amount of imperfections.

I hadn't read Pynchon before, and this isn't the usual place to start.
However (i) I'd loved the sound of this book ever since I saw press reviews for it, and I got a copy not long after it was released in paperback. (Yup, I – and various removal men – have been carting the thing around for fifteen years. And by god it was worth it. The open
Like all of Pynchon's big books, this is a strange, freaky trip. Probably even more so because the freakiness of this book isn't that of V. or Gravity's Rainbow, with their bizarre blend of modern, techno-social paranoia, but of how freaky the beginnings of rational, modern civilization itself are. Mason & Dixon wander through the dark sewers of the Euro-American enlightenment, Through far flung island colonies, dank old world taverns, the bizarrely rendered wilderness of young America etc., ...more
Sentimental Surrealist
One of the most common and annoying misconceptions about experimental art is that its creators - which very definitely include Pynchon - only make it because they aren't good enough to make normal art. And while Pynchon thoroughly broke that rule with the heavily experimental opus Gravity's Rainbow, it's here that he disproves it in a way I think would be more readily evident to people who weren't that big into postmodernism.

After all, this is probably the most mature novel Pynchon ever wrote. I
Hay que empezar diciendo que ninguna reseña puede abarcar todo lo que Pynchon nos relata en su novela. No es una lectura fácil, pero es uno de los libros más asequibles de Pynchon. Creo que su autor no pretendía escribir una novela histórica al uso. Aunque conociendo al autor, ya esperaba algo similar. Haciendo uso de diálogos y pensamientos, Pynchon nos dibuja unos personajes que rozan la caricatura, o más bien el homenaje, parejas tan memorables como Don Quijote y Sancho Panza o Gargantúa y Pa ...more
pynchon's _mason & dixon_ is ostensibly a historical fiction about the astronomer and land surveyor (respectively) commissioned to draw the now-eponymous line between pennsylvania and maryland.

as mason and dixon's line signifies distinctions of far greater import than simple political geography (north/south, slavery/abolition), so pynchon's tome is at once an epic journey through pre-revolutionary america; a sometimes-didactic People's History on which the hypocrisy of a people who would dec
In the search for the mythical "Great American Novel", too many are guilty of forming their idea of what this should be before reading any of the contending texts. Hence, the likes of Don De Lillo, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth and John Updike are those most often mentioned in this context. The assumption is that the beast should deal with twentieth century material - the America of skyscrapers, mass immigration, tenement buildings and baseball.

However, what better way of getting to the soul of a co
A novel about the surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, after whom the Mason-Dixon line between the states of Pennsylvania and Maryland is named. Pynchon traces the emergence of modern America to the pre-Revolutionary years of the mid 1700s (the Age of Reason, foax!) In some passages, it is a particularly contemporary America he traces; for instance, he suggests that concepts like designer coffee were around even as early as when George Washington was still only a colonel. Like Gravity's R ...more
Andrés Borja
Volví a Pynchon como quien vuelve a probar una droga querida cuyos efectos conoce bien y disfruta de sumergirse en ellos de vez en cuando, como para experimentar la realidad de otra forma aunque solo sea mientras duran. Y aunque la experiencia fue similar a las anteriores (empecé fumando la ligera pero exquisita "La subasta del lote 49" y poco después me creí listo para arriesgarme con la mucho más hardcore "El arco iris de gravedad"), tuvo una particularidad que al principio me sorprendió, porq ...more
Oh god, I'm gonna cry, what a beautiful book, a gift from Pynchon in the form of an epic bedtime story. Explaining this book would only cheapen it, you should just trust me and read it, but if I'd have to give you a glimpse, I'd say it's a story about the ironies of pure theory vs. imperfect practice, clock time vs. the ocean's rhythms, a depressive vs. a lively romantick, the numinous quality of nature, and the allure of an untouched American frontier, a land where the stars are so close you wo ...more
Charles Matthews
In literature, there's a fine line between cleverness and obscurity, between stimulating and exasperating. James Joyce, for example, crisscrossed that line incessantly in Ulysses, and in Finnegans Wake he hopped over it and ran away, leaving the rest of us behind. It's a line that Pynchon dances merrily along in Mason & Dixon, which is, of course, a book about a line. That this is a work of genius is undeniable: It's a great, mad farrago, a pastiche of 18th-century English novelists like Smo ...more
Scott Rhee
As with every Thomas Pynchon book I've read, I loved it, even if I had no clue what was going on. "Mason and Dixon" is probably more accessible than "Gravity's Rainbow", but it is still weird as hell and replete with Pynchon's trademark humor and stream-of-consciousness storytelling. It is the (somewhat true) story of the world's two most famous surveyors, as they travel from South Africa to Pennsylvania, meeting along the way: horny Dutch women, a talking dog, Jesuit assassins, a Chinese spy, a ...more
Nate D
Pynchon on the origins of America (boundary disputes, litigation, paranoia, servitude -- of and by), camaraderie, and were-beavers. The 18th century time frame (and style, and references) makes this often a much more obscure affair for me than more recent and recently-set Pynchon (Against the Day and Inherent Vice). As such its endlessly digressive fish stories are as occasionally brilliant as they are occasionally trying. Somewhat spotty but impressive.
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Reading the Chunk...: Mason and Dixon by Pynchon - Buddy Read 27 30 Jan 09, 2015 08:10PM  
I Read Therefore ...: Aug -Oct 2013 Mason & Dixon Chap 1-25 85 40 Oct 20, 2013 06:50AM  
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Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. is an American writer based in New York City, noted for his dense and complex works of fiction. Hailing from Long Island, Pynchon spent two years in the United States Navy and earned an English degree from Cornell University. After publishing several short stories in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he began composing the novels for which he is best known today: V. (1963 ...more
More about Thomas Pynchon...
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