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V. By Thomas Pynchon

V. is the first novel by Thomas in 1963 published in 1963, V. is an extensive novel comprising of a vibrant set of characters with different adventures and communications within a century. The novel won the William Faulkner Foundation First Novel Award and made Thomas Pynchon an author to look for in the future. The novel focuses on two major themes: the trend of the twentieth-century people toward dissolution (entropy) and control (conspiracy).

Entropy, which is the unknotting of the universe by equalizing the distribution of power, is sometimes associated by the effects of conspiracy, as forces divide and scheme to achieve control of supplies and lines of communication. Through the novel’s main characters, Benny Profane and Herbert Stencil, Pynchon analyzes the opposing views regarding the meaning of History. Profane, a self-proclaimed “schlemiel”, views history as a mere collection of coincidence.

On the other hand, Stencil thinks that history is an intricate conspiratorial game. Though there are several characters in the novel, Pynchon marvelously gives an amazing profundity and color to each of them. The novel revolves on the two joining together to find the mysterious woman who they only know as “V”. The setting of V. is actually hard to describe. The novel’s “present” time is 1956 but the chapters are not presented chronologically though most of them contain the same characters.

The events and happenings occurred from 1898 up to 1944 and also during 1956, and are set in places all over the world: from Egypt to Africa to the United States. With the skills of Pynchon, readers are able to examine the impact of a single person on their “environment”, and from an omniscient point-of-view, readers can know the cause and effect of the things that happens in their lives.

Though the novel is hard to understand at first, it challenges the reader on unraveling the ideas hidden in a complex structure or landscape created by Thomas Pynchon. Upon reading the novel, I learned the consequences of the different happenings in history: the causes and effects of them. With the two views laid out by the author, history for me now became harder to understand. Though the complexity of V. cannot be contested, it is still a wonderful piece of literature.

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