Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

Online Course


Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

"[S]he is also a dweller, down inside the little city, coming awake in the very late night, blinking up in painful daylight, waiting for the annihilation, the blows from the sky, the terribly tense with the waiting, unable to name whatever it is approaching, knowing - too awful to say - it is herself, her Central Asian giantess self, that is the Nameless Thing she fears...."

At base camp we encountered multiple plots, a large cast, post-modern themes and structure in preparation for our ascent.

The first climb took us deep into the collective consciousness as a reflexive creation of individual minds organized around culture, environment, and society.

The steeper ascent following led us through the tumultuous middle of the American 20th C. as seen through the lens of dark-age religious superstition, authentic faith, and primitive tribal mythology.
All of these combine in the treacherous ice-fields that guard our assault on the summit, and are represented in the slippery mind of the reclusive, prolific, and recursive prose of Thomas Pynchon’s "Gravity’s Rainbow."

Using the metaphor of the parabolic flight of a V-2 rocket, launched from the mainland of Europe and aimed at the heart of London during WWII, Pynchon takes readers down a rabbit hole that repeatedly traverses the boundary between the scientific and metaphysical.

Any discussion of this novel will lead to deeper exploration of post-modernism, existential meaning, nihilism, and nearly all of the darkness and depravity to be found in human behavior. If the World Wars were truly the ones to end all war, Pynchon’s dark mirror, reflecting nearly 500 characters and an enigmatic conclusion that often leads readers back to the book’s beginning for a second read, reminds us why literature and art may be the saving grace of humankind. The lessons of our darker nature, in the hands of a skilled artist, become instructive and useful, if at the same time shocking and evocative of how far we have come in our mastery of natural forces, and how far we have to go in mastering our individual natures.

This course is the fourth in a series we call The Himalayas of Literature.

Your Instructor

Stephen L. Russell
Stephen L. Russell

Many years ago, deep in the heart of Texas, Stephen fell in love with long, dense novels that most of his friends and family found better suited for pressing flowers or propping up a broken table leg than as something to crack open and read. He found these books opened his mind to rich experiences with an immediacy that simply didn't exist in day-to-day life.

Graduate level courses in Faulkner and Milton at Trinity University in San Antonio, along with continuing obsessions with Shakespeare, World Mythology, and the life changing discovery of Aristotle's "Poetics" led him to consume much of the literary canon, participate in workshops on the craft of writing, and help organize and lead discussions in a book club of serious authors, academics, and journalists studying literary craft for nearly ten years.

Stephen worked in retail sales and management for over forty years, the last fourteen as a bookstore manager, before retiring to his great passions of learning through reading great literature, writing, and sharing his experience with other bibliophiles.

He is also continuing his mythology and self-discovery studies as a student of Dr. David Frawley, studying the Vedic sciences and philosophy. His personal philosophy comes from from the great Zen teacher, Shrunyu Suzuki:

"The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner's the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

Enroll Now!