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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   



16. The Search For Identity

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
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Activities: Author Activities


Thomas Pynchon - Selected Archive Items

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[6240] Anonymous, Look Behind the Mask! Communism Is Death (n.d.),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-80757].
Propaganda poster depicting Stalin and a skull. Anti-communism in the United States peaked during the 1950s Red Scare. Many political, union, and popular culture figures were accused of being communist and subversive. Writers responded to the Red Scare in such works as Arthur Miller's The Crucible. The remainder of this poster reads "From Lenin to Stalin . . . the word is one thing, the fact another." Cold War politics often made labor organizers unpopular, as depicted in Carlos Bulosan's America Is in the Heart.

[6241] Anonymous, Anti-Communist Poster Showing Russian Soldier and Joseph Stalin Standing over Graves in Foreground; Cannons and People Marching to Siberia in Background (1953),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-117876].
Thomas Pynchon's work is rife with references to contemporary and historical events, popular culture, and politics. "Entropy" opens with a description of a supposedly cosmopolitan and urbane group in Washington, D.C.--a passage that admits its own irony in what is perhaps a reference to the politics of the anti-communist McCarthy era.

[6899] Neil A. Armstrong, Moon Landing, Apollo 11 (1969),
courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Photograph of astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. and the Lunar Module (LM) taken by Neil A. Armstrong with a 70mm Hasselblad lunar surface camera. Writer Thomas Pynchon's works are full of scientific language and allusions and explore the shifting demarcations between science and science fiction.

[7105] New York Times Paris Bureau Collection, London Has Its Biggest Raid of the War (1941),
courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow has four main plots and many subplots. World War II London, however, is a prominent setting in this work. Pynchon's fascination with science and technology, as well as popular culture, animates this novel which includes an investigation into the V2 rocket program developed by Germany for bombing England during the war.



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