The Year of P

MMVII (i.e. 2007) is going to be quite a literary year, at least for me. My goal is to read Thomas Pynchon’s complete œuvre in chronological order—in the English original—, and Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, formerly known as Remembrance of Things Past, in the German translation—all seven volumes of it.

The reason for my wanting to read Mr. Pynchon is fairly simple: I mostly want to read Against the Day, his latest work. But I do not want to tackle it without the knowledge of his previous novels, thus seeing how he developed as a writer, if at all. So far, I have only read the rather short Crying of Lot 49 and was quite pleased.

Why I want to read Monsieur Proust I do not rightly know, but it is going to be a tour de force, of that I am sure. I probably just want to see what all the fuss is about, why his over-5000-page novel is considered one of the best of the last century. (A note on the side: Just recently, a German audiobook version of "only" the second volume was published. It encompasses 21 (!!) CD’s.)

During the process of reading I plan on digesting the material, from both Mr. Pynchon and M. Proust, in the form of fairly extensive posts to this weblog; most likely chapter by chapter. But before I head off on this expedition through modernist and post-modernist world literature I have to finish James Joyce’s Ulysses (and about a dozen other books) first. It has been sitting on my bookshelf for about ten to eleven months with the bookmark still on page 130. I have a notion I will have to start over again.

P.S. Feel free to join in on this project and blog about the books yourself. We will see who finishes first (probably you) and who gives up after the first fifty pages of V. or Swann’s Way (hopefully not me).

3 thoughts on “The Year of P

  1. Don’t miss “Slow Learner,” the collection of Pynchon short stories that comes before any of his novels. You’ll find at least one of them extensively re-used in V.

    I probably enjoy Lot 49 and Vineland more than the others, but have fun with all of Pynchon. It’s not always great, but it’s almost always interesting.

    –a.k.a. MrJ

  2. No worries, Slow Learner is on my list. But wasn’t it first published in the mid-80s? Maybe some of the stories were written pre-V. and some even post-Gravity’s Rainbow. I’ll have to find out and, knowing my compulsion for chronology, probably end up reading both the novels and the stories in the alternating order Pynchon wrote them.

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