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Chapter 36 - Postmodernism

from Part III - Approaches and Readings

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 May 2019

Inger H. Dalsgaard
Affiliation:
Aarhus Universitet, Denmark
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Summary

When Thomas Pynchon published his first novels in the early- and mid-1960s, nobody called them postmodern, for the very good reason that the term barely existed at that time. If anyone felt the need to categorize them, perfectly suitable categories were available: V. (1963) and The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) were satires, or perhaps examples of black humor. By the mid-1980s, Pynchon had been canonized as the very model of a postmodernist, and Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) in particular, his third book, as the definitive postmodern novel. In the interim, the term had gradually made inroads in literary circles, and then in the mid-1970s had leapt to architectural theory and criticism, which disseminated it far and wide, until it seemed that everything in the sphere of culture, high and low, could be called “postmodern.” By the early 1990s, writers and academics were beginning to declare postmodernism dead – prematurely, as it turned out. By the 2010s, however, it had receded to background noise.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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