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xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr"> Pages 433-447 - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Gravity's Rainbow

Pages 433-447

This page-by-page annotation is organized by sections, as delineated by the seven squares (sprockets) which separate each section. The page numbers for this page-by-page annotation are for the original Viking edition (760 pages). Editions by other publishers vary in pagination — the newer Penguin editions are 776 pages; the Bantam edition is 886 pages.

Contributors: Please use a 760-page edition (either the original Viking edition with the orange cover or the Penguin USA edition with the blue cover and rocket diagram — there are plenty on Ebay for around $10) or search the Google edition for the correct page number. Readers: To calculate the Bantam edition use this formula: Bantam page # x 1.165. Before p.50 it's about a page earlier; as you get later in the book, add a page.

Finally, profound thanks to Prof. Don Larsson for providing the foundation for this page-by-page annotation.

Page 433

433.32 "Der Feind hoert zu"
Not 'The listening enemy' but 'The enemy is listening', a warning not to speak carelessly.

Page 435

435.8 George Raft suits
An American film actor identified with portrayals of gangsters in crime melodramas of the 1930s and 1940s. He was also noted for his elegant fashion sense.

Elisha Cook as Wilmer
435.10 gunsels

Both of the meanings supplied by Weisenburger (a male homosexual and/or a gunslinger) also apply to a likely source for the Pynchon’s use of the word: the character Wilmer in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and John Huston’s 1940 film adaptation, with Elisha Cook, Jr. in the role.

435.16 veronica
In bullfighting, a matador’s move with his cape similar to the one that Slothrop employs here.

435.20 Fickt nicht mit dem Raketemensch
German: 'Don't fuck with the Rocketman'; although this is more of a direct translation of an English phrase than something a German would say.

435.21 hiyo Silver
'Hi-yo, Silver, away!'--the tag line from the radio and Tube show The Lone Ranger delivered at the end of each episode as he rode off into the sunset.

435.29 Saturday Evening Post
American news magazine especially know for its covers portraying folksy, down-to-earth, mainstream Americans and their lifestyle.

Page 439

439.26 a nasal hardon here
Trudi’s invasion of Slothrop’s nose is a reversal of male pornographic fantasies of crawling into women’s vaginas, etc. The connections between the nose and penis have a long cultural history, including the novel Tristram Shandy and early works by Freud.

Cf. also, The chapter "In Which Esther Gets a Nose Job" in V..

Also shades of the 1971 porn film, The Erotic Adventures of Pinocchio.

Page 442

Mutt & Jeff
442.09 They are a Mutt and Jeff routine.

Mutt and Jeff were the tall and short friends featured in the earliest daily comic strip, begun in 1907 by Bud Fisher.

442.39-40 Irving Berlin medley

Irving Berlin
Weisenburger has Berlin dying in 1975 [Corrected in 2nd edition], but the composer did not die until September 1989 at the age of 101! The medley includes the two songs cited on page V443: "God Bless America" and "This Is the Army, Mr. Jones." The latter song gave its name to a 1943 film starring future California Senator George Murphy and future California Governor and U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Berlin composed "God Bless America" for a musical in 1917 but dropped it, then revised it for Kate Smith in 1938, who made the song the "unofficial American anthem." It is sung by Smith in This is the Army; in which Berlin himself also sings, "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning." The film also features the song "I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen." See note at p. 134.27.

Page 445

Carole Lombard
445.22 I’m a Lombard

Although Greta evokes the geographical region, she may also be referring to film star Carole Lombard, the comic actress whose airplane crashed while she was on a war bonds tour during the war. Lombard had glamour as a star, although she is best known for roles in "screwball" comedies like Nothing Sacred (1937) and My Man Godfrey (1936) that undercut that image.

445.23 Close enough, sweetheart
Slothrop’s hard-boiled reply to Greta echoes the cynicism of film characters like those played by Humphrey Bogart.

Page 446

446.18 Wannsee
A popular beach, but also the location of the infamous conference on January 20th, 1942, where the strategy of the 'final solution' of the Jewish question was determined.

446 Hauptstufe

Hauptstufe is the second stage, the main (haupt)stage (stuffe)of a multistage rocket. In the vanBraun-designed Saturn V rocket, the second stage S-II consists of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. This stage accelerated the rocket through the upper atmosphere. So, Rocketman's cry of "Hauptstufe!" might be the Rocketman ("Racketenmenschsprache"?) equivalent of Superman's "Up, Up, and Away!"

Being a native speaker of German, I can add that in general, although Pynchon`s German is ususally remarkably keen, at instances he comes up with quite odd translations - so odd, in fact, that I would suppose him to have done it on purpose, to test out and play with his readers' good faith in telling them the truth. Thats what he seems to be doing most of the time anyway.

In A-4 parlance, "Hauptstufe" refers to the fifth and final step in the firing progress for the single-stage rocket. It is preceded by "Vorstufe", in which the steam turbopumps run, LOX and alcohol are ignited but throttled, and the rocket sits on the pad for a few seconds. The burn is observed, visually and instrumentally, to detect anomalies. Up to that point the sequence can be aborted, the motor shut off, the rocket should survive and be largely serviceable. Hauptstufe is final. Throttles are fully opened, the rocket takes off and hopefully clears the launchpad. If it does not and falls down, a fireball is inevitable and warhead explosion is also possible.

Page 447

dog show...stud service
In Betty Freidan's best-selling feminist tract of the 1960s, The Feminine Mystique she mentions some bored, deeply unfufilled suburban wives with no outlet for their full intelligence and creativity, who did IT with their dogs.

Human-animal sexual encounters also happen in Against the Day.

Notice in this dream of Slothrop's, the key colors are violet and green. Colors heavily associated with certain 'emancipated' suffragettes in Against the Day.


1
Beyond the Zero

3-7, 7-16, 17-19, 20-29, 29-37, 37-42, 42-47, 47-53, 53-60, 60-71, 71-72, 72-83, 83-92, 92-113, 114-120, 120-136, 136-144, 145-154, 154-167, 167-174, 174-177

2
Un Perm' au Casino Herman Goering

181-189, 189-205, 205-226, 226-236, 236-244, 244-249, 249-269, 269-278

3
In the Zone

279-295, 295-314, 314-329, 329-336, 336-359, 359-371, 371-383, 383-390, 390-392, 392-397, 397-433, 433-447, 448-456, 457-468, 468-472, 473-482, 482-488, 488-491, 492-505, 505-518, 518-525, 525-532, 532-536, 537-548, 549-557, 557-563, 563-566, 567-577, 577-580, 580-591, 591-610, 610-616

4
The Counterforce

617-626, 626-640, 640-655, 656-663, 663-673, 674-700, 700-706, 706-717, 717-724, 724-733, 733-735, 735-760

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