War and power

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingBook chapterEducation

As context, prospect, reference and substance, warfare invariably features in Pynchon’s fiction: the French and Indian wars in Mason & Dixon; colonial wars in V.; world war one in Against the Day; world war two in Gravity’s Rainbow; the cold war in The Crying of Lot 49; various culture wars – hippies against straights, dopers versus The Man, nerds contra jocks – in Vineland and Inherent Vice; and the war on terror in Bleeding Edge. Though none of them are ‘war novels’ as such, in all these fictions warfare occasions, illuminates and interrogates the fabric of power, not only political or military but also social and psychological, economic and cultural, scientific and technological. This chapter explores modulations in Pynchon’s treatment of the nature and politics of warfare: from the armed conflicts of the imperial era to the struggles for security – not just physical but also ideological and discursive – that mark the post-imperial, cold (and post-cold) war orders; from the concentration camps and nuclear explosions of world war two to the ballistic missiles of the cold war, the irregular engagements of terrorism and counter-terrorism, and the digitalized fall-out of cyber-warfare. Addressing the state, business, science and technology as mechanisms of power, it concludes by discussing resistance to their diverse predations – and its limits.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThomas Pynchon in context
EditorsInger Hunnerup Dalsgaard
Place of publicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication yearJun 2019
Pages203-210
ISBN (print)978-1-108-49702-2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
SeriesLiterature in Context

    Research areas

  • Thomas Pynchon, warfare, power, colonialism, imperialism, totalitarianism, politics, business, technology, resistance

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ID: 108123106