19 July, 2015

Gravity's Rainbow

BY Thomas Pynchon
Book Information1/1/0/US/VK/1973/c.4,000 (HB) & 16,000 (SB)  •  224x155x51  •  1,075  •  NBA'74  •  WDH Medal'75  •  Pulitzer'74(F)

The magnum opus of high modernism has arrived. "Gravity's Rainbow", published in 1973 by Viking Press, is Thomas Pynchon's third and most esteemed novel, a "gargantuan parable of rocketry, sex and whole bunch of other stuff" that redefined postmodernism. Apart from the usual Pynchonesque paranoia and humour, the book, in its sprawling scope, also deals with philosophical determinism, scientific rocketry and very strange sexual inclination like coprophilia, the consequence of which is a volume dense in plot and weight. The 1974 Pulitzer fiction jurors recommended it for the award but the board was not convinced. The book won the 1974 National Book Award along with Issac Bashevis Singer's "A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories", and the American Academy of Arts and Letters' William Dean Howells Medal in 1975. Pynchon neither acknowledged nor accepted these awards.


There are hardbound and softbound versions of the first edition first printing. This is the first edition first printing hardbound version with first state dust jacket that is unclipped, showing the correct price of $15.00. The book is bound in orange clothed board with outline and red lettering on spine, a blind rainbow stamp on the front board, and orange topstain. The copyright page should state "First published in 1973 in a hardbound and paperbound edition by (new line) The Viking Press, Inc., 625 Madison Avenue ". It seems accepted, at least on the web, that there were 4,000 hardbound and 16,000 softbound copies but I have yet to locate a credible source.

This book is not particularly rare and a VG copy of the hardbound can be purchased from eBay or Abebooks at $1,500 and above. This is a VG+ copy with a VG+ dust jacket that is slightly sunned at the spine and a NF book that is tight and clean but is starting to show signs of loose spine due to the weight of the book. 

There are no official signed copy (i.e., publisher issued) for this title, and Thomas Pynchon is notoriously reclusive so be wary of any signed copies. Also, some sellers try to pass off non-collectible book club editions as first edition: book club edition can be identified by a lack of price on the front flap.

















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