Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Although The Crying of Lot 49 is filled with Pynchon's usual mind numbing accumulation of details, apparent digressions, and zany...

(The entire section is 109 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Pynchon's novels are so packed with details and references that there is no lack of things to talk about. It may be that younger students,...

(The entire section is 397 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In this short novel, Pynchon continues his concern with conspiracy and technological control of the society and adds a satiric dimension by...

(The entire section is 95 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

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.

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Besides the kinds of mystery and detective story parallels noted under V. above, The Crying of Lot 49 also shares points of contact...

(The entire section is 260 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Drafts of sections of this novel appeared as the stories "The World (This One), The Flesh (Mrs. Oedipa Maas), and The Testament of Pierce...

(The entire section is 44 words.)