Hi all – longtime lurker/fan of the sub here, so this is my first post. I finished Gravity's Rainbow last night and am super thrilled about it, so I wanted to see if I could get some discussion going. Overall, I enjoyed the book. I'm quite the fan of the experimental prose genre, so this one was a rite of passage for me. It is also undoubtedly the most difficult book I've ever read. It took me just over a month, which is a while for me, and guide-wise I only used the Pynchon Wiki.
Some of my favorite parts: Pynchon's long tangents (e.g. the Christmas section, the pinball section, the mythology behind double integrals), though I know they might be off-putting to many people; all of the Pavlovian stuff; Franz Pokler's story; the relationship between Roger Mexico and Jessica (even if it was only a minor plot line); Katje's existential search for purpose; and the Weissman/Gottfried relationship. Funny, I'm realizing now that some of my favorite parts occurred on the fringes of Slothrop's journey.
-I've heard from people who read the story as one big hallucination being experienced by Slothrop under the influence of drugs (perhaps the drug that uses Pokler's indole ring chemistry). I don't know if I agree with this completely. It certainly makes sense that Slothrop's pursuit of the 00000 is mostly hallucinated, but I do feel that the events that went on before/are going on concurrently actually happened. Franz Pokler really did lose his family in the process of developing the rocket. Prentice and Katje really were double agents operating within the underground of the war. Pointsman really was a mad experimental psychologist. I will even go so far as to say that Slothrop really was aware of many of the things that were going on, as many of them appear within his supposed hallucination. Do you all agree? Disagree?
-What did you all make of the end to the Enzian/Tchitcherine story? Toward the book's closing, Enzian meets Tchitcherine, who is blinded (literally?) by Geli's magic, on the roadside. Despite the fact that Tchitcherine has pursued Enzian for 700 pages, the two men exchange food and cigarettes, and part ways. The final line of that episode is ambiguous, however, and it's unclear whether 1.) neither man recognizes the other (Tchitcherine being blind to everyone but Geli, and having become too deformed for Enzian to recognize him in turn) or 2.) Enzian recognizes Tchitcherine (who does not recognize him) and avoids conflict. What did you all think? I personally felt that Tchitcherine doesn't recognize Enzian (not due to magic but rather to time/age), yet Enzian recognizes him (because of his surgeries he's hard not to recognize after all) and chooses not to confront him.
-What are some things you all loved? Didn't love?
Source: reddit post