Secret retributions: Thomas Pynchon's haunted economies

Haynes, Douglas (2016) Secret retributions: Thomas Pynchon's haunted economies. American Literary History. ISSN 0896-7148 (Accepted)

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This essay takes its title from an 1855 quote from Emerson that Pynchon uses in his 1990 novel Vineland. Emerson envisages a natural justice that secretly works against tyrants, slavers and monopolists; Pynchon re-thinks this, I argue, in terms of the multiple ways in which the "weak" overpower and outwit the "strong." Secret retributions are also secret economies. My argument borrows from David Graeber's groundbreaking Debt: the First 500 Years (2012 and his reconsideration of the meaning of money. I suggests the gift/obligation/debt economy Graeber describes as anterior to market economies is evident in Pynchon too. Leading on from the attention to obligation in Vineland, I provide an account of the way that other relationships than that of exchange "haunt" the marketplaces of Pynchon's texts,

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Pynchon, economy, Emerson, Graeber, Vineland, Mason & Dixon, Bleeding Edge, debt, obligation, haunting
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature > PS0360 Prose
P Language and Literature > PS American literature > PS0420 Essays
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Depositing User: Douglas Haynes
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2015 12:20
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2015 12:20
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