"Gravity rushes through him": volk and fetish in Pynchon's Rilke

Haynes, Douglas (2012) "Gravity rushes through him": volk and fetish in Pynchon's Rilke. MFS: Modern Fiction Studies, 58 (2). pp. 308-333. ISSN 0026-7724

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Abstract

The paper deals with a central concern in Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow - the poetics and thought of Rainer Maria Rilke, the major German poet of the early 20th century. Although cited throughout Pynchon's novel, perplexingly Rilke receives scant attention from the text's many commentators, a situation that's become something of a lacuna in Pynchon studies. Addressing this gap, my study shows how Pynchon uses his two central characters to engage critically with Rilke's Elegies and Sonnets. He reads Rilke contextually and thematically to explore Weimar irrationality as preparation for Nazism, to develop a way of interpreting the social dynamics of the interwar period, and to demonstrate that Rilke's variety of neo-Romanticism and its avatars reveal an unconscious ideological basis in the fetish of the commodity. Thus the essay tracks the relation between a close attention to Rilke's verse and Pynchon's historiographical and aesthetic approach more generally.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic theory. Demography > HB0201 Value. Utility
P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
P Language and Literature > PT Germanic literature > PT0001 German literature
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Depositing User: Douglas Haynes
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2012 12:03
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2013 12:07
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/40964
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