“She hangs on the western wall”: Breaking the Myth of the Renaissance in Thomas Pynchon’s V.
Since the time of its publication in 1963, Pynchon’s first novel V. has been triggering an intense and still ongoing critical debate upon the function of history and tradition in contemporary literature. As a specimen of postmodern historiographic metafiction, V. enacts complex intertextual strategies, directed at debunking the Western literary tradition, thus questioning its significance in contemporary society. The present contribution aims at extending previous scholarship on the problem of tradition in Pynchon’s fiction, by focusing on the use of the Renaissance in the seventh chapter of V. selected as a case study. Far from marginal, Pynchon’s parodic references to the Italian Renaissance tradition and its cultural artifacts, whether through the artistic productions, or the idea of the Renaissance seen as a pivotal moment of the socio-historical development of the Western world, testify to the process of deconstruction of the paradigmatic role of the Renaissance for the American literary field in the late twentieth century, also in its global and transnational dimension.
Keywords: Thomas Pynchon. American literature. Postmodern fiction. History. Renaissance.Submitted: March 21, 2019