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Mathematics without ApologiesPortrait of a Problematic Vocation$
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Michael Harris

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691175836

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691175836.001.0001

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An Automorphic Reading of Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day (Interrupted by Elliptical Reflections on Mason & Dixon)

An Automorphic Reading of Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day (Interrupted by Elliptical Reflections on Mason & Dixon)

Chapter:
(p.128) bonus chapter 5 An Automorphic Reading of Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day (Interrupted by Elliptical Reflections on Mason & Dixon)
Source:
Mathematics without Apologies
Author(s):

Michael Harris

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691175836.003.0007

This chapter focuses on Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day. The prominence of mathematics in this book is exceptional even for Pynchon. Two of the main characters are at least part-time mathematicians; Hilbert, Minkowski, and Gibbs make cameo appearances; and several chapters are set in the Göttingen mathematics department. Inger H. Dalsgaard suggested that “a novel like Against the Day may be read in non-linear fashion, in keeping with the operations of a time machine.” No critic, however—not even the “seventeen of the foremost heavyweights from over forty years of Pynchon criticism” who contributed to the Cambridge Companion to Thomas Pynchon—seems to have taken seriously the possibility, which is explored in this chapter, that his narrative style might in fact be quadratic.

Keywords:   Thomas Pynchon, mathematicians, Against the Day

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