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The Postmodern self in Thomas Pynchon's the Crying of Lot 49: Dismantling the unified self by a combination of postmodern philosophy and close reading
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Humanities.
2016 (English)Student paper other, 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]


This essay is about identity and the self in Thomas Pynchon's critically acclaimed masterpiece The Crying of Lot 49. Through a combination of postmodern philosophy and close reading, it examines instances of postmodernist representations of identity in the novel. The essay argues that Pynchon is dismantling the idea of a unified self and instead argues for and presents a postmodern take on identity in its place. Questions asked by the essay are: in what ways does Pynchon criticize the idea of a unified self? What alternatives to this notion does Pynchon present? The essay is split into six chapters, an introductory section followed by a background on Thomas Pynchon and the novel. This is followed by an in-depth look into postmodernism, and Ludwig Wittgenstein's importance for it, as well as the basic concepts of his philosophy. This is followed by the main analysis in which a myriad of segments and quotations from the novel are looked at. Lastly, this is followed by a summarizing conclusion. The essay assumes a postmodernist approach of not being a definitive answer; rather it is one voice among many in the community of Pynchon interpreters. The conclusion shows that the examples given in the analysis present a range of answers as to how Pynchon dismantles the self, and what alternatives he presents in its wake. Pynchon explores the Cartesian ego, Lacanian other, Freudian ego and postmodernist alternatives in the novel, and presents in postmodern fashion, a multitude of answers as to how he dismantles the idea of a unified self in the novel.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 30 p.
Keyword [en]
Pynchon, self, identity, postmodernism, Wittgenstein
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-21255OAI: diva2:904582
Subject / course
English language education
Educational program
Upper Secondary Teacher Education Programme
Available from: 2016-02-19 Created: 2016-02-19 Last updated: 2016-02-19Bibliographically approved

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