This essay explores the trajectory of popular media in Thomas Pynchon's 2006 novel Against the Day, from print all the way to the Internet. In his piece “Genre as History,” Brian McHale asserts that Against the Day pastiches several literary genres from the turn of the twentieth century, but this essay argues that Against the Day deals more broadly with the history of emergent media that come to shape reality according to capitalist interests. Merle Rideout, a character linked to camera technologies, and Lew Basnight, who represents print media, remain strangers for the first thousand pages of an eleven-hundred-page novel. Their meeting in 1920s Hollywood demonstrates not only the historical collision of print and visual media but also the latter's eclipse of the former. Reading Merle's Integroscope as anticipating later Internet technology, this essay ends by grappling with the persistence of print media in the twenty-first century that Against the Day consciously embodies.
Justin Gautreau; “Clearer Than Real”: A History of Mediated Realities in Pynchon's Against the Day. Genre 1 July 2014; 47 (2): 141–170. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00166928-2679761
Download citation file: