Samuel R. Delany and Thomas Pynchon
This chapter looks at novels marked by various types of excess. In Pynchon’s great work Gravity’s Rainbow, the reader is assaulted with erudition, puns, and possibilities. At the same time, the excess is directed toward logical ends, and it mimics, in a fashion, the insanity connected with the Second World War and the potential for nuclear annihilation. The book also, within the context of the mainstreaming of pornography and excess in films premiering during in 1972, deals with domination and submission in sexual relations. Such themes appear raw in Delany’s novel from this period, Hogg, which features the varieties of sexual practice—including the grossest. His major science fiction novel from this period, Dhalgren, is about identity, community, and destruction, as well as the potential for liberation, with a storyline that is meant to lead one down various blind alleys of comprehension, in the mode of postmodernism. They were exploring transgression with abandon, as were others in this period, such as film director John Waters.
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