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Mason & Dixon

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  9,281 ratings  ·  788 reviews
The New York Times Best Book of the Year, 1997
Time Magazine Best Book of the Year 1997

Charles Mason (1728-1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733-1779) were the British surveyors best remembered for running the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland that we know today as the Mason-Dixon Line. Here is their story as re-imagined by Thomas Pynchon, featuring Native Americans and f
Paperback, 773 pages
Published January 3rd 2004 by Picador USA (first published August 1997)
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Jeremy I would say start with V. honestly. It's his first novel. The seeds of everything he does subsequently in his career have their foundation there. It's…moreI would say start with V. honestly. It's his first novel. The seeds of everything he does subsequently in his career have their foundation there. It's one of the finest first novels ever written, maybe the single finest.(less)
Mirosław Aleksander Dixon speaks in Geordie, so this is probably a mark of exaggerated up-speak and meter of speech (this is my somewhat-educated guess))

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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  9,281 ratings  ·  788 reviews

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Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Ian "Marvin" Graye
All Due Regard to Length

Let's get the length of "Mason & Dixon" out of the way first.

Lauding fiction on the basis of its maximalism alone might gratify those who derive satisfaction from this one feature of big fat books, but it inevitably deters readers who might enjoy the (other) merits of the book.

I was a little apprehensive about the length of this novel when I began. However, the preoccupation with its length obscures what a pleasure it is to read (and why).

Here, Thomas Pynchon gives us the
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-novels
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
Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
I have wanted to read this book for a long time...and it definitely lived up to anything I could have hoped for. Actually, I never could have imagined the novel as it actually exists. This is a combination of 18th century history, fantasy, a dollop of things magical and mysterious, a touch of poetry, astronomy and possibly astrology. Just about everything is present in this large novel. It's grand in all senses of the word.

I will acknowledge that this may not be for every reader but those who li
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
From the vault of James O. Incandenza.

The Fantastical Fractionated by a Freudian Feng Shui: Liaison of Lines. Year of the Character Limit Neural Prosthetic Alert Device. Mixed Martial Arts Eschaton tournament expressing ideological hostilities along lines of rational and romantic interest, taking place in assiduously reconstructed, and still highly flammable, library of Alexandria. w/color commentary from Rev Wicks Cherrycoke (Quantum Superposition of Joe Rogan Deep Within Blackbox Sensory Depri
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pynchon has been, for me, an acquired taste, but like fine wine, once you acquire it, you wonder how you missed the beauty for so long. Sure, there are still moments (mostly the jokey ones) that I find a bit flat, but here in Mason & Dixon, his first work after a long publishing hiatus, Pynchon is at his best. It's written in a made-up "Olde Style" of writing (it's impossible to do it justice in a review), but it actually works. At least it worked for me. I found the story utterly engrossing and ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
This was my favourite Pynchon novel. I know most folks will say that Gravity's Rainbow or the more accessible The Crying of Lot 49 were his great works, but I felt that M&D just was such a beautiful story. The coming together of these two most opposite personalities and their adventures across the native forests and rivers and wildernesses that because what we now know as America was compelling and fascinating. I was not bored for a minute but rather was entertained and felt buoyed by the 17th/1 ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mason & Dixon is a Christmas story…
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,—
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books, 2014, 2018
Reread from 1. July - 14. July 2018.

This time around the silly puns and references, like Bill Clinton's non-inhaling and whatnot, though funny, took the back-seat to the delightful atmosphere and remarkable writing. This book is a rollicking, fun, and just absolutely refreshingly charming novel. Nevermind all the fun and hilarious puns and situations and ridiculous and fantastical things that occur, not to mention all the historical characters that (obviously and necessarily) appear in historic
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
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Rating: 98/100: Holy fuck it's so fucking good and beautiful and heartbreaking and ambitious (Yes I'm doing these from 1-100 from now on, since a 1-5-star rating is waaay too unnuanced; also, rating things from 1-100 is just a lot more fun.

Mason & Dixon the novel, is a giant, madly ambitious portrait of the lives of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, two British Surveyors/astronomers, most famous for their Mason-Dixon line, as a resolution to the border-dispute between Maryland, Pennsylvania and
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011, aere-perennius
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 coordinate of science and mytho ...more
Mattia Ravasi
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Featured in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2016:

Pynchon's most ambitious novel might very well be his masterpiece - a flawless pastiche of 18th Century language, compelling characters, wondrous adventures and brainy reflections, everything soaked in Pynchon's trademark mixture of high&low, serious&ridiculous, bitterness&hope. Not especially easy and not a good starting point with Pynchon, but truly a must r
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I beg you both, be most careful,— for Distance is not the same here, nor is Time.

This was a re-read for me, inspired by the fact that this was my favourite Pynchon novel when I first read it what feels like many years ago and I have wanted to re-read it for quite some time. My re-read coincided with a busy time in my life which means it took me far longer than I expected to finish the book. But this is, in fact, a good thing as there is so much pleasure to be had reading this novel that it doesn
Jun 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ever, great-and-dense
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 lines in
A through-the-roof masterpiece.
Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
David Lentz
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 colon ...more
Mar 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 mimicki ...more
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tip-top
Frustrating, beautiful, funny, sad. I cant say I have ever read something so sprawling and meandering. I have that same feeling of exhausted happiness that I got from Herodotus. Theres just too much to talk about. An amazing read to say the least.
Oct 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
FINISHED!!! I am VICTORIOUS! Despite the ridiculous length of time that it took me to finish this, I really enjoyed it. It was strange, wacky, funny, confusing, brilliant, and in the end there was a perfect mix of nostalgia, sadness, and grief.

The only thing that I would really recommend is to not read it on a schedule. Do it when you're not watching a clock or trying desperately to finish. It's a book that should be explored rather than read. Unfortunately I focused on just continuing to turn
One of those rare books that's almost boring in its perfection. Not a page I didn't love, and I couldn't have been any more saddened when it inevitably came to an end.
Gumble's Yard
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007
The book is effectively a story told by Reverend Cherrycoke to the children and adults of relations he is staying with indefinitely (on condition he amuses the children) and is in its simplest form an account of the historical collaboration of the historical figures of Charles Mason (Assistant to the Royal Astronomer and mourning his wife Rebecca) and Jeremiah Dixon (a lustier and plain speaking ex-Quaker land surveyor from Durham).

The book begins with them travelling on behalf of the Royal Soc
[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
Apr 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 eponym
Oct 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing

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
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Re-read. There really aren't words to describe the beauty and genius of Mason & Dixon. It's the sister novel to GR and everything it is not: warm-hearted, fuzzy, munificent...A blend of Dickens and Twain alchemized through the insane genius of, in my estimation, the greatest and most imaginative writer to ever walk the Earth.
Don't let the size scare you. It's an easy and ridiculously enjoyable romp. Pure m-a-g-i-c-k. In the absolute vanguard of the best books ever written and an embarrassment o
Jun 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 affect ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Change page count 2 312 Aug 18, 2020 07:43AM  
Purpose of “,—“ in M&D? 1 20 Aug 18, 2018 04:07AM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week Two - Mason & Dixon - Chapter 12 - 25 5 70 Jan 04, 2017 07:26PM  

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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

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