Revised December 26, 2002

A Companion's Companion:
Illustrated Additions and Corrections to Steven Weisenburger’s
A Gravity’s Rainbow Companion

Donald F. Larsson
Department of English, Minnesota State University, Mankato

 

Introduction

Notes for Part 1:
Beyond the Zero
Notes for Part 2:
Un Perm' au Casino Hermann Goering
Notes for Part 3:
In the Zone
Notes for Part 4:
The Counterforce

Index of Illustrations

Links

Introduction:

" . . . a Text, to be picked to pieces, annotated, explicated, and masturbated till it's all squeezed limp of its last drop . . . "
                                                                                    [Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow, New York: Viking: 1973, 520]

" . . . its text is theirs to permute and combine into new revelations, always unfolding . . . "
                                                                                                        [Pynchon, 727]

Steven Weisenburger’s A Gravity’s Rainbow Companion (Athens, Ga: University of Georgia Press, 1988) was an important contribution to understanding basic elements of Thomas Pynchon’s complex and controversial novel. As readers of Gravity’s Rainbow know, the text is rich in allusion to a wide array of people, places, events, ideas and cultural artifacts.   Weisenburger did a great service for readers and scholars in explicating and clarifying many references and issues in the book.  However, as Weisenburger himself acknowledges, there are gaps and errors in his guide, many of them having to do with film and other aspects of popular culture.

Below are links to additional notes that are meant to supplement, not replace, Weisenburger’s work. The page references are all to the original Viking (V) edition of GR. Page numbers are followed by a period and the line(s) on the page in question (eg. V1.1) and the phrase or sentence to which the entry refers. Entries marked by an asterisk (*) represent my own additional note; unmarked entries respond or add to Weisenburger’s gloss on the same passage. I follow Weisenburger in giving the term "Episode" and a number to each of the separated sections in each of the novel's four designated Parts.

I have included some relevant links and images.  Click on thumbnail images to view in larger format.

I began working on these notes shortly after Weisenburger's book was published, over a decade ago.  Since then, the Internet has made it much easier to track down relevant definitions, details, and images but it is by no means a perfect tool.  I build on the scholarship and criticism of many other people here and am unable to acknowledge my debt to all of them. Other gaps and errors in the notes below, of course, are entirely my own.  Please send any comments, corrections, or suggestions to me at donald.larsson@mnsu.edu.  My thanks to those who have offered their own corrections and additions by e-mail, including Debby Katz, Stephen Remato, Igor Zabel, Matthias Bauer, and many others.

An extensive set of notes and resources for Gravity's Rainbow, as well as for other Pynchon books, and links to other resources can be found online at the Hyperarts Pynchon Pages, curated by Tim Ware.  See the Links page for other useful sites (and wayward passages and Kute Korrespondences).  Watch for continued improvements and additions to this site!

 

CONTENTS

Notes for Part 1:
Beyond the Zero
Notes for Part 2:
Un Perm' au Casino Hermann Goering
Notes for Part 3:
In the Zone
Notes for Part 4:
The Counterforce

Index of Illustrations

Links

 

FEEDBACK: Contact Donald Larsson for comments, additions, corrections and suggestions
at: donald.larsson@mnsu.edu

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