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A Companion to V. Paperback – February 1, 2001

2 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

Review

<p>A solid, most resourceful guide to a text that challenges even the most knowledgeable and patient readers.</p> (Studies in the Novel)

About the Author

J. Kerry Grant is a professor of English at St. Lawrence University and author of "A Companion to V" and "A Companion the Crying of Lot 49" (both Georgia).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (January 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820322512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820322513
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By GeoX on November 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
Stephen Weisenburger's Gravity's Rainbow Companion is a hugely helpful book for anyone looking to penetrate Pynchon's magnum opus. It doesn't unlock all of the novel's secrets--I kind of doubt that any book could do as much--but it does provide the copious scientific/mathematial/political/cultural context necessary for the reader to at least approach it on an even footing. I highly recommend it.

Here, on the other hand, we have J. Kerry Grant's Companion to V. Is this book truly necessary? you might well ask. The first time I read V., I didn't have no goldurned guidebook, and I did just fine. It's a great novel, but it's orders of magnitude less allusive and perplexing than GR. Curiosity overtook me, however, so I decided to see if the guidebook would enhance my experience upon rereading it.

Short answer: no. I can confirm that V. remains a brilliant book, if, on reflection, not quite on the level of GR or Mason & Dixon, but the guide proved to be generally unhelpful.

Since V. contains much less esoteric material that needs glossing than Gravity's Rainbow, how does Grant fill up the pages here? By including much more interpretive material than Weisenburger did, culled from a wide variety of critics. This seems like a potentially useful approach, but in practice, it's almost worthless. There are useful bits and pieces here and there, but not too often. Grant takes a seemingly random assortment of phrases, ideas, and paragraphs as they come up in the text and provides interpretive speculation, sometimes his own but mostly from other critics. There's no guarantee that a passage that you find perplexing will be glossed, and there are plenty of glosses that make you ask, was this really necessary? It's all very arbitrary.
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