The Fictional Labyrinths of Thomas Pynchon by David Seed

By David Seed

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The Fictional Labyrinths of Thomas Pynchon

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Hamm: Well? Clov: Zero. Hamm: It'd need to rain. Clov: It won't rain. 40 The relation and clipped idiom between Hamm and Clov parallels that between Callisto and Aubade. Like Callisto Hamm delivers lengthy monologues, the longest one trailing away into silence at the end of the play. In Beckett's play the gloom is relieved onstage by the dialogue whose humour literally fills the time before 40 The Fictional Labyrinths of Thomas Pynchon the final end. Both works have pre-apocalyptic elements, but Pynchon confines them mainly to Callisto.

28 Nerissa guides Flange along another path and then enters a General Electric refrigerator whose back is missing. The fridge is simply an updated form of the usual entry point into a fantasyworld. It could be compared with Alice's rabbit-hole and indeed Flange does have to worm his way through a tunnel of junk before they reach a large concrete pipe. This they follow until they arrive at a 'dead end' where a door opens on to 'a room hung with arrases and paintings'. These Gothic furnishings perhaps recall Esmeralda's room in Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris where Gringoire is brought to the Court of Miracles, the enclave of the beggars in the heart of medieval Paris.

For three days. Like Miller's Boris he is 'leery at omens of apocalypse' (85). When dictating his memoirs the combination of terms like 'vision' and 'oracle' with scientific information suggests that Callisto is fitting his materials into a non-scientific, quasi-religious pattern. Indeed, for all the differences between his obsession with endings and the partygoers' version of the pathetic fallacy, both outlooks could loosely be described as 'Romantic'. Three times in the course of the story Callisto asks Aubade to check the external temperature, thereby paralleling a similar action in an earlier modernistic work Beckett's Endgame (1958).

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