Twenty: Michelle-Shock

03.03: The Crying of Lot 49

In which we continue our analysis of The Crying of Lot 49. 

Oedipa gets something of a curious letter and, later, visits a bar frequented by Yoyodyne employees. In a restroom stall she’ll discover a curious symbol – easily the most recognizable of Pynchon’s symbols. She’ll be told about the W.A.S.T.E. mail system and a little history of mail systems in the United States. She, Metzger, and the Paranoids will travel out to Lake Inverarity where they’ll meet Manny DiPresso. From him they’ll learn of the bones in the lake and of a play being put on by a local theater troupe called The Courier’s Tragedy…

…which we’ll have to save for the next episode because it’s already too much!

3 thoughts on “Twenty: Michelle-Shock

  1. Might be a bit late to this party but anyway:

    Regarding Nicholas II-this error is so grotesque it must (I mean it must surely) be on purpose. I thought that Pynchon was making a point about how certain historical figures loom so large in the public consciousness that they become a stand in for all historical figures of their type. In this case Tsar Nicholas II becomes a stand in for all the Tsars of all the Russias.

    In much the same way Hitler has become a point of comparison not only for anything bad but for anything disagreeable or even inconvenient.

    This is interesting also because the actual Tsar at the time of the US civil war, Alexander II was a reformer and his legacy is the liberation of the serfs. Some would say this meant the end for feudalism in Russia and allowed for more capitalistic developments within the empire and thereby, according to Mike Fallopian, laid the groundwork for the revolution to come.

    It’s curious therefore that Fallopian makes the error as one would suspect that Alexander II might have been a bete noir of his. It seems despite his passion, ignorance gets the better of him.

    Or Pynchon just made a mistake.

  2. Hi Benazir,

    Really interesting analysis! You definitely took it way more in-depth than I did. As with many minor details of Pynchon’s work, it’s hard to tell when something is a mountain, and when it’s a molehill, haha.

    I’m going to mention your idea on the next recording, if you don’t mind.

    Great stuff.

    Thanks for reaching out,


    1. Hi Chris,

      Sorry, hadn’t noticed you replied ages ago. Anyway I don’t mind if you mention this or anything else I post on the site.

      Incidentally I have a suggestion for the capstone episode. I think the influence of Nabokov and Borges on Pynchon loom very large in this novel-definitely worth getting into.

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