Illustrated Additions and Corrections to Steven Weisenburgers
A Gravitys Rainbow Companion
Part 1: Beyond the Zero
*V3.14 second sheep
Compare the narrators discussion of William Slothrops heretical tract "On Preterition," which argued for the holiness of the preterite, and Weisenburgers note at V555.29-31.
*V5.03 His name is Capt. Geoffrey ("Pirate") Prentice.
Pirates name derives from Gilbert and Sullivans operetta The Pirates of Penzance, in which the heros nurse has made a fateful error in carrying out her employers instructions: Instead of having the boy apprenticed to a (ships) pilot, he was apprenticed to a pirate, hence a "pirate prentice." The name, though, is not simply a fortuitous pun: In her error, the nurse has lost a message, like the hare of Herero myth, and thus guaranteed her young charges preterition. (There are also connections here to the theme of "communications entropy," which is central to The Crying of Lot 49 and the short story "Entropy.")
*V5.35-36 a friend who flew the Rio-to-Ascension-to-Ft. Lamy run
That is, from banana-growing Brazil to the British-owned mid-Atlantic island to the capital of the French African colony of Chad (now NDjamena). See Weisenburgers note at V489.20.
*V6.09 a spiral ladder
Suggests the double-helix structure of the DNA molecule that preserves the "living genetic chains" evoked at V10.14.
V9.03 Miss Grable
Betty Grable actually became a pin-up favorite in 1943 (not 1944), when she had a photo series released. Although she had been featured in various films since the late 1920s, she first became a major box office attraction with the 1940 film Down Argentine Way. The poster is also an example of the motif of the turning head that recurs throughout Gravitys Rainbow. Correspondent Hazen Bob Dixon notes that Grable was actually pregnant when the picture was taken, which is why her back was turned in the first place. The story is plausible, since Grable did give birth to a daughter (by her husband, band leader Harry James) in March 1944; however, there are other versions of how the image came to be taken.
*V9.05 Civvie Street
In other words, Peacetime, when military personnel will again wear civilian clothes ("civvies"). George Formby had a postwar film titled George in Civvy Street (1946). See note at V18.25.
Correspondent Igor Zabel notes that the name of the famous mountain actually means "Virgin." Matthias Bauer adds:
"The name of the mountain means ''virgin`` in 20th century German. Translated from Kluge ''Etymologisches WŲrterbuch der deutschen Sprache``, 23th edition, de Gruyter, Berlin, New York, 1999: ''originally meaning young lady, later generalized to young (unmarried) woman. Mysticism used the word for the Virgin Mary, and the meaning shifted towards young (virgin) woman."
*V9.14-19 Bartley Gobbitch, DeCoverley Pox . . . SNIPE AND SHAFT, Teddy Bloat
"Gobbitch" comes from the archaic word "gobbet," which Websters New World Dictionary defines as "a fragment or bit, especially of raw flesh." The names "Pox" and "Bloat" are obvious enough, but "DeCoverley" comes from Sir Roger Decoverley, the prototypical country squire created by Addison and Steele for the Spectator and named in turn for a country reel dance. Overall, the names suggest another version of the "Whole Sick Crew" of Pynchons V. "Snipe" (backbite, take potshots) and "shaft" (undercut, screw over) are what these men are presumably assigned to do to others in their various bureaucratic jobs and what they do in conversations at the eponymous pub.
V11.25 his batman, a Corporal Wayne
Weisenburger correctly defines "batman" (an aide assigned to a British officer) but misses Pynchons joke: Any "batman" with the last name of "Wayne" must have the first name "Bruce"! (Alfred Appel in Nabokovs Dark Cinema also missed the joke, claiming that Pynchon was poking fun at John Wayne by demoting him to a "mere" corporal!)
V13.20 during his Kipling period, beastly Fuzzy-Wuzzies
Contrary to Weisenburger, the Fuzzy-Wuzzies were actually the Sudanese natives fighting against (not conscripted for) the British. Here, Pirate is thinking not of the novels of the arch-apologist for Empire but of such Kipling poems as "Fuzzy-Wuzzy" in which a British soldier declares his grudging admiration for the natives fighting spirit.
V13.34 No Cary Grant . . . medicine in the punchbowls
The reference here is not to the anachronistic Howard Hawks film Monkey Business but to George Stevens Gunga Din, the 1939 film loosely inspired by Kiplings famous poem. Grant and his compatriots (Victor McLaglen and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) do indeed "lark about" through India, spiking the company punch with elephant medicine and engaging in other pranks. See Weisenburger's note at V684.31-35.
*V14.07 H.A. Loaf
As in "Half a loaf is better than none"?
V14.30-31 It was a giant Adenoid!
Correspondent Erik Johnson adds the following in relation to the references to the Adenoid here and at 754.38:
"An adenoid is an enlarged mass of lymphoid tissue at the back of the pharynx characteristically obstructing breathing--usually used in plural. I believe it's likely that Pynchon is also making reference to 'Adenoid Hynkel,' the character of the dictator (and mockery of Hitler) played by Charlie Chaplin in the film The Great Dictator.
*V14.34 Lord Blatherard Osmo
To "blather" is to talk on foolishly (the reason for his mysterious death?). "Osmo" suggests "osmosis," the process by which the giant Adenoid would absorb its victims.
Web correspondent Stephen Remato comments: " . . . Those serving in the British Army use the term to refer to the Military Police (in the American parlance 'snowdrops' in reference to the white helmets and gaiters); the term 'red caps' refers to the red band around the standard British Army officer's cap, what one might call the headband, which is usually khaki, with the exception of the red of the MPs. This makes much more sense in context, when the ownership of a narcotic cigarette is under scrutiny; why would one care if any Sudanese troops discovered this secret?"
*V18.22-23 "Johnny Doughboy Found a Rose in Ireland"
Song by Al Goodhart and Kay Twomey, composed for the 1942 film Johnny Doughboy, starring Jane Withers and Henry Wilcoxon. Apparently a popular tune, it lasted 16 weeks on the 1942 Hit Parade and was recorded by Kay Kyser and Guy Lombardo, among others.
V18.25 George Formby
See note above at V9.05. Formby was extraordinarily popular in recordings and films in Britain in the 1940s. Weisenburger claims that Formbys voice was a "high screech," but it was actually a not-unpleasant baritone. Weisenburger may be confusing Formby with the ukulele-strumming 1960s singing phenomenon Tiny Tim.
*V18.30 the skin of a Flying Fortress
Correspondent Stephen Remato adds the following comment: "While detailing the debris on Slothrop's desk, Mr. W. suggests that the bomb which explodes over Hiroshima was dropped from a Flying Fortress. While also made by the Boeing company, it was the B29 Super Fortress, not the B17 Flying Fortress, which was the atomic bomber of WW2. The well-known B29 'Enola Gay' dropped the Hiroshima bomb, while the lesser-known B29 'Bock's Car' dropped the Nagasaki bomb. To those unaware, the superficial similarity in name between these types of aircraft is the main similarity only; they are not variations of the same aircraft but quite distinct."
V18.38 a News of the World
The NOTW was not merely a daily paper but a highly sensationalistic British weekly tabloid, with virtually no serious news (still being published). That "Slothrop is a faithful reader" says much about his intellectual pursuits. The paper's current website is at:
V19.30 the pantechnicon
Weisenburger gives this as "a bazaar in Victorian London," but a more fitting setting for Tantivys story of "Lorraine and Judy, Charles the homosexual constable and the piano" would be a warehouse or furniture van. See V537.16-17.
Not "tour of duty," as in Weisenburger, but "temporary duty."
*V21.07 A lot of stuff prior to 1941 is getting blurry now.
Even this early in the novel, Slothrop has problems with his "temporal bandwidth."
While sources do agree with Weisenburger that the term "86" might originate in rhyming slang (for "nix"), they also agree that it was first used in the restaurant business to indicate menu items that were no available. The wider usage here may not have originated until the 1950s.
V22.04 Frick Frack Club
The term "frick and frack" is often used to designate two people or almost any two items closely associated with each other. The term originates from the stage names of a pair of Swiss skaters who starred in ice shows in the 1930s. Pynchon probably chose the name more for its senseless alliteration (like "Kit-Kat Club") than any specific meaning.
*V25.06-07 Slothrops Progress . . . a parable
"Slothrops Progress" echoes John Bunyans Puritan allegory The Pilgrims Progress. The word "parable," interestingly, comes from the same root as "parabola."
V26.30 back home in Mingeborough, Massachusetts
The Berkshire town was first created by Pynchon in the short story "The Secret Integration," set in the mid-1960s. This story also introduced the Slothrop family, in the person of Hogan Slothrop, who is apparently the son of Tyrones brother. Minges (or "midges") are small, biting insects. However, "minge" is also a British slang term for a woman's genitals.
V26.33 British Double Summer Time
Correspondent Igor Zabel explains this term:
" . . . in Britain they had, during the war, the clocks an hour ahead in the winter time and two hours in the summer time."
V26.37-38 Death is a debt to nature due . . . so must you.
Weisenburger claims that this epitaph, with its debt to "nature" rather than God, would be heretical to Puritans. That might be so, but the inscription was fairly common on tombstones in the northeast from the mid-1700s until the early 1800s, a range that includes Constants 1760 death.
*V27.04 Variable Slothrop
The son of "Constant": The two names play a mathematical pun and suggest the familys decline as well.
*V27.31-33 They began as fur traders, cordwainers, salters and smokers of bacon,
went on into glassmaking, became selectmen, builders of tanneries, quarriers of marble.
One source listed in Weisenburger but that he did not have time to consult closely is The Berkshire Hills (TBH), a guidebook prepared for this western Massachusetts region by the Federal Writers Project during the Depression. (See Pynchons comments in his introduction to Slow Learner.) Although not the sole source, the book provides important background for "The Secret Integration" and the Berkshire segments of Gravitys Rainbow. Most of the offices and trades listed here (except for "smokers and salters of bacon") are noted at one place or another in the guidebook. Also see my article "From the Berkshires to the Brocken: Transformations of a Source in "The Secret Integration" and Gravitys Rainbow," Pynchon Notes 22-23 (Spring-Fall 1988): 87-98.
*V28.02-03 papertoilet paper, banknote stock, newsprint
The Berkshire Hills describes several paper mills in the region and notes the importance of the industry. One producer, Crane and Company, first used the term "bond" for high-quality paper and provided special paper for U.S. currency from 1879 on (TBH 238). Another company, in the town of Lee, gave the "first practical demonstration in America of the process of manufacturing paper from wood pulp instead of rags" (TBH 143).
V28.33-34 Harrimans and Whitneys gone
The Harrimans are mentioned in passing several times in The Berkshire Hills as being among the wealthy families who spent their summers in the region. William C. Whitney, President Clevelands Secretary of the Navy, is specifically mentioned as the founder of a vacation colony in Lenox in 1886 (TBH 224).
Tyrone Slothrops brother, presumably the father of the Hogan Slothrop of "The Secret Integration," set in the Berkshires a generation later.
*V30.39 Jessica Swanlake
Jessicas last name, like other musical references in the novel, is suggestive. Like the heroine of the Tchaikovsky ballet, she finds true love and is transformed, but then is abducted back to her former state by an evil magician (in this case, Pointsman).
*V31.28 Carroll Eventyr
As Weisenburger notes, "eventyr" is Danish for "adventure" but in the sense of a tale or story ("The Adventures of . . . "). It can signify "folk tales" or "fairy tales," as in Hans Christian Andersens stories. The first name evokes Lewis Carroll but it also suggests the astrologer Carroll Righter, whose face appeared on the cover of Time magazine for a story about growing interest in the occult on March 21, 1969. Righter, nicknamed "The Gregarious Aquarius," later would read charts for Ronald Reagan, among other celebrities. Also see the note at V742.29.
V33.26 Witchcraft Act
Correspondent Igor Zabel offers this interesting elaboration on the reference:
"A few years ago, I came upon a short article in our daily newspaper Delo, which could be interesting here. It says: 'The British spiritualists started a campaign to acquit Helen Duncan, sentenced as a witch during the World War II. She was sentenced as a consequence of a sťance in 1942. She told she had seen in her trance a dead soldier wearing a cap with the inscription HMS Barham, who had told her: My ship was sunken. The news about this fact (the ship was supposedly sunken on 25 November 1942) was kept secret by the British government for two years, as Winston Churchill wrote in his diary. In 1944, Duncan was arrested since they were afraid that she would reveal also the date of the D-day. Her trial was based on the Witchcraft Act from 1735, and she was sentenced to nine months of prison. Argument: Helen Duncan pretends that she conjures the spirits of the dead.' It seems that Mexico refers to this case; the year and quotation from the Act correspond to the conviction of Helen Duncan." A web search using Helen Duncan's name will reveal several websites devoted to the "medium martyr."
*V36.27-28 the Other Chap in this case being known as Beaver
"Beaver" is the nickname for Jessicas other and more staid lover, Jeremy. The nickname derives from the 40s slang for the beard he sports. (For example, in the "home front" film Since You Went Away , the bearded character played by Monty Woolley is referred to as "Beaver.") The word also is vulgar slang for a womans pubic hair or genitals.
V37.10-11 Fred Ropers Company of Wonder Midgets
This is apparently a real group, although I have no information on them except that a postcard exists captioned "Fred Roper and His Wonderful Midgets" with a tall man in a busby and military greatcoat and a troop of midgets in uniform under the heading "The Toy Soldier Parade." The website for The Princess Theatre Hunstanton (England) notes that the building opened as the Capitol Theatre in 1932. One of the first acts to play there was "Fred Roper and His 20 Wonder Midgets"!
*V48.25 " . . . one of Lazslo Jamfs subjects . . . "
The name "Jamf" apparently derives from an acronym used by Charlie Parker: "Jive-Ass Mother-Fucker"!
V51.31-32 the Ick Regis jetty
The name is Pynchons but evokes "The Cobb," the famous jetty at the city of Lyme Regis on the southern coast of England.
V59.01-02 Frank Bridge Variations
The "Frank Bridge Variations" is a composition ("Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge," Opus 10, 1937) by Benjamin Britten, named after one of his teachers. It was one of Britten's first works to win international notice.
V63.32-37 "Yardbird" Parker is finding out [ . . . ]
Correspondent Igor Zabel offers the following addition to Weisenberger's note on this passage:
"On one of Parker's CDs (Swedish Schnapps +), I found the passage which was quoted by Prof. Weisenburger after Max Harrison, but slightly different, and it is interesting because Parker directly mentions Cherokee: 'Well, that night, I was working over 'Cherokee' and, as I did, I found that by using the higher intervals of a chord as a melody line and backing them with appropriately related changes, I could play the thing I'd been hearing. I came alive.' The quotation is taken from 'Hear Me Talkin' To Ya'."
*V65.15 "Gobbler" Biddle
The Biddles are one of the leading families of Philadelphia, who sometimes vacationed in the Berkshires.
V65.16 Fus Folly
Although, as Weisenburger notes, the character is named for Fu Manchu (who is an important reference for Pointsman later in the novel), it should be recalled that there was also a "Fu" who was a member of the Whole Sick Crew in V.
V65.33 Jack Kennedy
Contrary to Weisenburger, Kennedys first book was titled Why England Slept (not "When").
*V68.01 Half an Arks better than none.
For Crutchfield, there is only one of everything, as opposed to two of every animal on Noahs (whole) Ark. (And how much use is half an Ark in a flood, anyway?)
*V69.14 a bandana of the regulation magenta and green
The coal-tar colors of organic chemistry that resonate throughout the novel.
V69.16 Rancho Peligroso
Evokes the Siege Perilous of the Arthurian Grail legend as well as Rancho Notorious, a 1952 Western directed by Fritz Lang and starring Marlene Dietrich. See note at V321.06-07
Correspondent Matthias Bauer notes that "sam" derives from the German "samen," for "seed." "Krypto," of course, derives from the same word as "cryptography," the study of codes. Weisenburger claims that the "tyrosine" from which kryptosam is supposed to derive is "undoubtedly fictional," but it is in fact an amino acid, which can convert to melanin, just as Jamf's note indicates (although it is unclear whether semen will in fact act as the catalytic agent).
*V75.30 Dr. Porkyevitch
Another suggestion of one of Pynchons favorite motifs, the little cartoon hero Porky Pig. See note at V545.04-05
V78.12 Cecil Beatons photograph of Margot Asquith
Another example of the Turning Head motif.
*V79.13 Webley Silvernail
Webley is the name of the British gun manufacturer. The Berkshire Hills cites Silvernail House in West Stockbridge as one of the oldest houses in that town (TBH 99).
V79.18 Geza Rozsavolgyi
Gezas first name also suggests the Hungarian-American psychologist Geza Roheim, who was one of the first to employ psychoanalytic critiques of culture. Rozsavolgyi is the name of a famous Budapest music store founded in 1850, which also published works by Liszt, Bartok and Kodaly, among others.
V80.21-22 "Would You Rather Be a Colonel with an Eagle on Your Shoulder, or a
Private with a Chicken on Your Knee?"
The World War I song was composed by the team of Sidney Mitchell and Archie Gottlieb in 1918. (Note: This is a correction of my earlier error in attributing the song to the team of Harold Arlen and "Yip" Harburg, who also composed the songs for The Wizard of Oz.)
V81.17 The Reverend Paul de la Nuit
A double pun: "Pall [dark and gloomy covering] of the night"; also "Pall de lennui [of boredom]."
V82.01 his most famous compatriot
Rozsavolgyis fellow countryman would be, of course, Bela Lugosi, whose speech patterns are suggested by Pynchons punctuation of Rozsavolgyis dialogue.
V82.11 Dr. Aaron Thowster
Aaron was the brother of and spokesperson for Moses. A throwster is one who makes threads out of silk. The name is fairly common in Britain.
*V85.25 Edwin Treacle
Although derived from a word meaning an antidote to poison, "treacle" is the British term for molasses and is often used to describe something excessively sweet and sticky.
*88.10 the submontane Venus
That is, the goddess of the Tannhauser legend and opera.
*88.34 yang-yin rubbish
Note that Pointsman here rejects the concept only to become entranced by it later.
*V91.27 Dr. Bleagh
An expression of disgust. (Try saying it!)
V.98.16 Young Rauhandel
A former friend of Blicero, probably a lover willing to indulge his sado-masochistic tastes. The name literally means "Rough Trade."
V98.24 the Ufa-Theatre
Weisenburgers information on Ufa is essentially correct, but he misgives Georg Wilhelm Pabsts first name as "Rudolf." One curiosity in Pynchon's German film references is the lack of any mention of F.W. Murnau, perhaps the greatest director of that era. His films Nosferatu (the first film version of Dracula) and Faust would seem to be natural allusions for Pynchon to use.
V106.34-37 White Zombie . . . perhaps Dumbo
Despite the connections with other forms of death-in-life that are referred to throughout Gravitys Rainbow, White Zombie is the only direct reference to zombies. That may be because the zombie myth is of black and African origin. Pynchon has carefully chosen the title to reflect his use of whiteness as the color of death. Although the depiction of the crows in Dumbo is clearly racist, they give the little elephant the "magic" feather that he thinks he needs (but really doesnt) in order to fly. The Disney film will continue to be an important touchstone later in the novel when Slothrop meets Pig Bodine. Compare Pynchon's bitterly ironic use of the Dumbo reference at V135.02-07. Although it is not clear that Pynchon was aware of it, the B-17 bomber was nicknamed the "Dumbo" by American troops in the Pacific during World War II.
V111.07-09 For as much as they are creatures of God and have
the gift of rational discourse, acknowledging that only in his Word is eternal life to be
found . . .
Weisenburger suggests that this is a prayer for new colonial subjects, but the contextFrans van der Groovs hopes for a Conversion of the Dodossuggests that it comes from a discourse on the possibility of salvation or conversion for Jews or others. Given Katjes problematic relationship to the Holocaust, the passage becomes even more suggestively sinister. The sentence does suggest the views of James (or Jacob) Arminius, the Dutch theologian who broke with the Dutch Reformed Church over issues of predestination and election. Arminius argued that Christs salvation was available to all in contrast to the official church's staunch belief in predestination. Frans would extend that grace to dodos as well. Also see note at V555.29.
V114:.37-38 hair flying in tell-tales, white wedgies clattering on
Correspondent Dave Henry offers the following definition of "tell-tales": "Short pieces of yarn, ribbon, thread, or tape attached to the sail which are used to show the air flow over the sail; or when attached to the shroud indicate apparent wind direction."
*V133.14-15 the Radio Doctor
The "Radio Doctor" was actually one Charles Hill, a former British government minister who died at the age of 85 on August 22, 1989.
*V134.27 the Stage Door Canteen
A hangout established for servicemen on West 44th Street in New York, where theater and film stars acted as hosts and waiters. It opened on March 4, 1942 and inspired a 1943 film, Stage Door Canteen, directed by Frank Borzage. The story is about a forbidden love affair between a soldier and one of the starlet-hostesses. A similar institution, the Hollywood Canteen, was established in Los Angeles and spawned a similar movie by that name. "I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen" is a song by Irving Berlin. The lyrics for the song follow:
I left my heart at the stage door canteen
I left it there with a girl named Eileen
I kept her serving doughnuts
Til all she had were gone
I sat there dunking doughnuts
Til she caught on
I must go back to the Army routine
And every doughboy
Knows what that will mean
A soldier boy without a heart
Has two strikes on him from the start
And my heart's at the stage door canteen
See note at V442.39-40.
V135.38 Roosevelt . . . Wilkie . . . Churchill . . . Pollitt
Context herefollowing the chaplains "Herod or Hitler, fellas"suggests that the troops lump in these leaders with Herod and Hitler.
*V135.39 tippin those Toledos at seven pounds eight ounces
That is, weighing seven pounds eight ounces on a scale manufactured by the Toledo Scale Company.
The word is defined by Websters New World English Dictionary as a "large, medieval, swift-sailing water ship."
*V139.14 the mummys curse
An allusion to the supposed fate of the Carter-Carnarvon expedition that opened the tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen.
V142.32 Reichssieger von Thantatz Alpdrucken
The name of the dog that Pointsman seeks translates loosely as "Realm of Victory over the Nightmare of Death."
Correspondent Dale Jack offers the following explanation and correction:
""Reichssieger" could be translated simply as "champion" or "victor"; "Reichs" is the possessive prefix tacked on just about everything during Hitler's rule, and refers specifically the Third Reich. "Thanatz" should be spelled "Thanatz", as it is in GR (taken from the Greek word for death). "Von" in this case means "of" or "from" and implies that he induces, rather than vanquishes fear. "Von" in this context could also be a dig at the aristocracy. Your translation of "alpdrucken" is basically correct; it is actually the impression (drucken) of dread or fear one has during any bad dream, as opposed to an actual nightmare (alptraum). This gives another rough translation: The Reich's Deadly Night-terror Champion. The structure of the name mimics standard pedigree dogs' titles-breeder's kennel, given name, then owner's kennel. For example, Daisy Hill's Fluffy of Shady Lane."
V152.11-12 More than any mere "Kreis" [ . . . ] full mandalas
Correspondent Igor Zabel offers the following gloss on Weisenberger's note, which makes sense in the context of the passage:
"Kreis is not 'cross' but 'circle', here also in the sense of a social circle. We should, therefore, understand the passage in the sense that the social structure of the visitors was so complex that they formed not only a circle but also whole mandalas while sitting around the table during the sťances."
*V152.16 Walter Asch
The last name derives from "asche": cinders, ashes.
V152.19 Wimpe, the IG-man
The name does suggest the word "wimpy," as Weisenburger suggests, but it also evokes Popeyes hamburger-mooching pal J. Wellington Wimpy. However, correspondent Alex Johnston notes that the actual German pronunciation ("Vimpe") would not have such connotations at all.
*V152.21 Lieutenant Weissmann
Weissmann ("white man"), who turns out to be Capt. Blicero, is the decadent character associated with one of the manifestations of the Lady V. in Pynchons first novel in the section "Mondaugen's Story.". See note at V161.22 below.
V156.18 the Judenschnautze
As Weisenburger notes, Pynchon probably means "Judenschnauze" here, but the term is more likely to mean "Jewish snout" (or nose) than "Jewish jaw." The term reflects Lenis antisemitic stereotyping. See note at V159.38.
Weisenburger takes his description of the film from Siegfried Kracauers From Caligari to Hitler, but overlooks a key point. It is no wonder that Pokler "missed Attila the Hun roaring in from the East to wipe out the Burgundians"; Attila never did roar in from the East! As Kracauer correctly describes the films ending, Attila does massacre the Burgundians, but only after inviting them to dinner and setting a hall on fire (prompted by the urgings of his wife, the wronged Kriemhild). Is the textual error Poklers, Lenis, or Pynchons? Given that all the explicit German film references are to films by Fritz Lang and that few of those films were widely available (with the notable exception of Metropolis), we could suspect that Pynchon was working from secondary sources or his own memory of a Lang festival at which he, like Pokler, fell asleep. (Lang did appear at such a festival at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1969, when Pynchon may have been living in the area.) Lang is a useful touchstone for Pynchon in this novel since almost all of his films (including such American movies as You Only Live Once and Scarlet Street) deal with characters trapped by an inexorable destiny. See note at V578.31.
V159.38 the Jewish wolf Pflaumbaum
At this stage, for all her professed radicalism, Leni allows herself to be deluded by ethnic stereotyping. Notice her attraction to Rebecca because of her Otherness. Soon, though, Leni will be "Judaized" (V219.41), even more so when she is sent to the Dora concentration camp. Of Pflaumbaums fate, see note at V582.05. Also see note at V474.39.
V160.18 It may have been a quota film.
With the great influx of films from the United States to Europe between the wars, several film-producing countries, including Germany, enacted decrees that a certain number of films shown had to be of national origin. These "quota" films were often quick and shoddy productions made only to satisfy government demands so that the more profitable American films could still be shown.
V161.22 Kurt Mondaugen
Mondaugen was introduced as a character in the South-West Africa episodes of V., especially as the focal point of the chapter "Mondaugens Story." See note at V152.21, above.
*V161.34-35 true succession, Liebig to [ . . . ] Jamf
Pictures of Justus Liebig are available below:
*V163.20-21 Leni sang with the other children the charming anti-semitic street
refrain of the time
The source of Lenis initially racist attitudes lies here, in her youth.
*V166.1-9 All right. Mauve [ . . . ]
For more on the history of this breakthrough in dye-making and organic chemistry, see Simon Garfield's Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World (New York: Norton, 2001). Pynchon correctly designates the name of the color's inventor as William Perkin, not "Perkins" as in Weisenburger.
*V167.29-30 Heinz Rippenstoss
The name of the would-be Nazi wag is literally "nudge in the ribs."
FEEDBACK: Contact Donald Larsson for comments, additions, corrections and suggestions
return to top