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The Sacred and Sacrifice within an Economy of Wasteful Expenditure in Thomas Pynchon's V.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2009 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Thomas Pynchon’s V. is often criticized for its preoccupation with meaninglessness and the  inability to make sense of ‘who’ or ‘what’ V. is about. The failure to make sense of V. is thematized within the novel particularly during the sacred moments or epiphanies which critics describe as ‘bizarre’, ‘disturbing’ or ‘unsettling’. These sacred moments raise issues that cannot be answered by traditional tools. Yet, critics and readers have responded to the novel with readings that reinscribe conventional modes of making sense and show a resistance to the inadequacy of traditional tools. This dissertation examines how Pynchon undermines modernist notions of the sacred moment as “moments of vision” which yield a higher knowledge or revelation. I argue that the sacred moments in V. allude to George Bataille’s notion of waste within a restricted and general economy. The violence of the sacred moments in V. are examined in relation to waste, sacrifice, the erotic, the inanimate, sovereignty and laughter. I conclude that rather than bringing about death, entropy and apocalyptic endings, the epiphanies’ violence and wasteful expenditure reveal the power structures at work in the literary use of the sacred. Paradoxically, the necessary existence of wasteful expenditure increases sense-making and offers the critic/reader the possibility of confronting waste, “the accursed share”.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. , 60 p.
Keyword [en]
waste, restricted and general economy, accursed share, sacred, epiphanies, sacrifice, erotic, inanimate, sovereignty, meaninglessness, entropy, apocalyptic
National Category
Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-32207OAI: diva2:279723
2009-10-13, Department of English, Room E 890, Stockholm University, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2010-02-10 Created: 2009-12-05 Last updated: 2010-02-10Bibliographically approved

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Hallén Rizzo, Pamela
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