Ideas for Group Discussions
Gleason, William. “The Postmodern Labyrinths of Lot 49.” CRITIQUE: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 34 (Winter, 1993): 83-99. Gleason compares the labyrinthine structure of Pynchon’s novel to postmodernism. Addressing the issue of how labyrinths occur in the narration, symbolism, and sexual dynamics of the story, Gleason shows how language serves as an interface between the text and the reader’s sense of meaning.
Grant, J. Kerry. Companion to The Crying of Lot 49. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994. An essential resource that is useful in decoding the allusions and references Pynchon employs in his novel. Grant’s detailed examination demystifies Pynchon’s text and enhances the reader’s understanding.
Hans, James S. “Emptiness and Plenitude in Bartleby the Scrivener’ and The Crying of Lot 49.” Essays in Literature 22 (Fall, 1995): 285-299. Hans’s exploration of Melville’s story and Pynchon’s novel shows the different ways in which individuals become spiritually bankrupt: Bartleby realizes the emptiness of life, while the sailor in The Crying of Lot 49 appreciates its plentitude. Yet in both works, the characters are unable to accept life as they find it, and, paradoxically, their choice of self-preservation costs them their lives.
Hawthorne, Mark D. “Pynchon’s Early Labyrinths.” College Literature 25 (Spring, 1998): 78-93. Hawthorne traces Pynchon’s use of the labyrinth image through his novels. Although the labyrinth was depicted as an architectural formation in Pynchon’s early novels, in The Crying of Lot 49 it has been transformed into a metaphorical construct, reflecting the human condition and the forces that threaten it.
O’Donnell, Patrick, ed. New Essays on The Crying of Lot 49. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. An excellent collection of critical essays by well-known scholars that delve into various aspects of Pynchon’s novel. Includes a bibliography for further reading.