Andy's Reviews > Against the Day

Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon
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's review
Dec 03, 2007

it was amazing
Read in November, 2007

As always with Pynchon the total lack of an ending or conclusion can be a bit frustrating, but at this point I'm over it. As usual, a sprawling, encyclopedia of a novel, with so many intertextual references the head spins (a short initial list would include: H.G. Wells, Artaud, B. Traven, Hemmingway, Kipling, etc etc.). Loosely structure around the adventures of the Traverse family following the murder of their father, a coal-miner and anarchist militant, in the Colorado Labor Wars of the last decade of the 19th century. If I were to grasp one theme of this book, I suppose, it would be that it grapples with the death of the Victorian era, and with it the era's faith in progress, science and the forward trajectory of mankind, the broad cultural malaise which we still inhabit. Another theme, I think, is the closing of the "frontier" - whether that frontier is the physical one of the American West, the Arctic Circle, and Central Asia; the mental frontier of science, mathematics and physics; or the political frontier of socialist, anarchism and working-class revolution, the book seems to work with the collapse of possibilities in the late 19th century with the end of what, we could perhaps, call the 'heroic era' of Western culture.

A joyful and ecstatic clusterfuck to be sure.
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