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xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr"> Bert Fibel - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Gravity's Rainbow

Bert Fibel

The little primer was studied intently by firing crews hidden in the thick woods of the Haagsche Bosch just outside The Hague. They were less than two hundred miles from London. It was the first week of September 1944. (GR, pp.79-81)

From Crossbow and Overcast [1]:

A slim booklet, stamped "Top Secret," was distributed in late August 1944 to the troops assigned to fire the long-range rocket. It was a technical manual, called A-4 Fibel (Primer), and its authors had gone to some pains to simplify its instructions, which were imparted through short sentences, little homilies, and stanzas of jaunty verse [perhaps limericks?]. The primer was enlivened with cartoons of bosomy girls attired in bathing suits and negligees and drawings of German villages covered with Christmas snow. The first chapter set the tone:

LISTEN EVERYBODY!

Here, dear Reader, is
the new A-4 primer.
This dry material is presented
in an easy manner
So that it will become part
of your flesh and blood.
However, always remember one thing

ALL THIS MATERIAL ABOUT THE A-4 IS TOP SECRET. REMEMBER THAT!

... on this planet where you live
In an age of guided missiles
A sky ship in the universe--
A long dream of mankind--
May someday fascinate our century.
But today you must master a weapon still
Unknown because it is classified top secret.
It is called, for short, the A-4 Device....
Whoever talks about it commits treason
and damages himself and the State.
First of all, remember, do not enter
into any debate.
Should an outsider, an informer or
a wise-guy question you
Tell him with a stupid expression on your face
I don't know anything.

[...]

FASTER THAN SOUND

Only five minutes will elapse between launching and impact. In those five minutes, however, everything must operate perfectly. Every single element of the A-4 has to be tested carefully and set prior to launching to insure that the missile hits its target. Little things may cause misfiring....

REMEMBER:

Every miss will help the enemy, damage us through the loss of valuable materials, and endanger the lives of you and your comrades.

MORAL:

The A-4 will hold it against you if you don't study this manual carefully. If you do, the enemy will be troubled by each of your well-placed shots.

References

  1. McGovern, James, Crossbow and Overcast, William Morrow & Co., Inc., NY - 1964
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