The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

210px-Crying_of_lot_49The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon is a postmodernist novella, published in 1966. The protagonist is Oedipa Maas who unearths the centuries-old conflict between two mail distribution companies, Thurn und Taxis and the Trystero (or Tristero). The former actually existed and was the first firm to distribute postal mail; the latter is Pynchon’s invention.

Teaching resources:

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

cloudCloud Atlas (2004) by David Mitchell is a postmodernist novel that has been adapted into a film.

Postmodernist themes: different narrators and narrative techniques (journal writing, letters, mystery-novel, and interview; also newspaper clippings), simulacra and simulation, intertextuality (the stories are interconnected and mentioned), allusions (real and imaginary) to other literary works, consumerism (Sonmi narrative) and historicizing the characters.

Continue reading

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami


Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami is a parallel narrative set in two worlds: End of the World and the contemporary world. This is not surprising as Murakami often sets his stories in parallel worlds and alternate universes.

The narrator has arrived at the End of the World to read old dreams. His shadow realizes that  “There’s something wrong with this place. People can’t live without their shadows, and shadows can’t live without people. Yet they’re splitting us apart” (63). The Gatekeeper on the End of the World, “Nobody leaves here. … If you endure, everything will be fine. No worry, no suffering. It all disappears. Forget about the shadow. This is the End of the World. This is where the world ends. Nowhere further to go” (109). The food in the Town is different than elsewhere, as the Librarian describes to the narrator, “We sue only a few basic ingredients. What resembles meat is not. What resembles eggs is not. What resembles coffee only resembles coffee. Everything is made in the image of something” (224).

Continue reading