Thomas Pynchon’s novel The Crying of Lot 49 is his second novel, and its his shortest novel, and many even consider it more of an experimantal novel. This novel is about a woman named Oedipa Maas and her quest for the secret behind a hidden and a shadowy organization known as Trystero ( it is also sometimes spelled as Tristero ). This novel was written in 1960s which was a very turbulent time in the history of the United States. Many things happened during this period, many of them had a dramatic influencce on the lives of the ordinary people. During this period, the world witnessed the assassination of J. F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, there was also the rise in the rights women and Civil Rights movement. This was also a time of the so called drug culture, for the abuse of drugs was very common. The novel shows us this world as a world that is constantly high, constantly on drugs and drunk, filled with secrets, information from questionable sources and secret identites. The subject of this paper is the secret society and an organization known as Trystero and their secret underground war against United States government and the official state postal system.
Before we move on to the story of the novel, we must first remind ourselves of the postmodern novel and what constitutes a postmodern literature. Postmodern literature, as postmodernism as a whole, is very hard to define for there are no standards for it nor are there any founding fathers, writers who set the standards for it. We could say that postmodern literature is a continuation of the experimantation started by the modernist writers and authors and their usage of fragmentation, paradox, questionable authors, etc and it is also a reaction against the enlighment ideas set by modernist literature. As it was mentioned, postmodern literature is very hard to define and many even say that is no longer exists, also hard to determine. However, many authors and literary critics agree on common themes that occur in postmodern literature, themese that are almost always present in these works and that are always grouped together in order to create irony, humour or to parody something. These themes are however not always used all the postmodern authors, so they can not be called standard postmodern themes, but they occcur most commonly. Thomas Pynchon and his novel The Crying of Lot 49 are an example of postmodern writing, for Pynchon always uses parody, paranoia, playfulness and black humour in his works, and this work is also filled with these themes. Postmodern authors, Pynchon among them, usually treat serious themes and subjects in a humorous and funny manner. Pynchon does that in this novel.
In The Crying of Lot 49, Pynchon deals with a serious topic about lives of people in a modern consumer America, about secrets and mysterious organizations, secret identities and also how information can influence our thoughts and even confuse and disturb us, but he approached all of that in a humorous and a funny way. This novel is a sort of a parody of a detective novel. This is because in real detective novels, the hero starts to solve the mystery starting from various and numerous clues, from a, we could say, chaos of information and draws a conclusion which leads to the truth behind the mystery and reveals the bad guy. In this novel however, we have Oedipa who opens a mailbox to get the letter and discovers that she has a job to do, pretty simple really, but as the novel progresses, her life and task become more complicated and complicated, she learns about the Trystero and her ex-boyfriend’s job and business undertakings but instead of making things clear, instead of solving the mystery of the Trystero, she became even more confused than she was when she first found out about them, so much confused that she almost lost her mind and started to think if it all was nothing more than a joke, created by her deceased ex-boyfriend or even maybe this was all just the work of her...
Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49, First perennial fiction library edition, 1986
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