Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), the massive, sprawling postmodern novel by Thomas Pynchon, has its own Wikipedia page. That’s no surprise, given that almost everything these days has a Wikipedia page. In fact, it would be surprising if the novel did NOT have a Wikipedia entry all its own given its decidedly weighty place in modern literary fiction.
Simply put, Gravity’s Rainbow is a cult classic with an ardent fan base akin to the more recent Giant Book cult phenomenon of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (1996).
Put more descriptively (and we quote from the Wikipedia page), Gravity’s Rainbow “…transgresses boundaries between high and low culture, between literary propriety and profanity, and between science and speculative metaphysics”.
And: “The novel is regarded by many scholars as the greatest American novel published after the end of the second world war, and is “often considered as the postmodern novel, redefining both postmodernism and the novel in general””.
We’ve never read Gravity’s Rainbow (have never even tried) but the same can’t be said of Zak Smith. Who is Zak Smith and does he have a Wikipedia page? Turns out that he does though when we accessed it we saw that “This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedia’s deletion policy”. As of this writing (3/1/19), the page was still up.
But here’s the point. Among the works of Zak Smith, American artist (controversial, apparently), is Gravity’s Rainbow Illustrated: One Picture for Every Page (Tin House Books, 2006), 760 pages of Smithian/Pynchonian graphical weirdness.
The copy Bedlam has for sale (paperback at $75) is the true first edition. Apparently, there was a controversy over the title. This copy’s book spine retains the original title:
The cover, however, bears a paste down sticker amending the title to Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon’s Novel Gravity’s Rainbow:
No matter the title, this is a scarce book, particularly in the first edition (though Bedlam’s is nowhere near as pricey as the hardcover version in slipcase which we’ve seen listed for sale online for more than $1,000).
If you’re a Pynchon enthusiast, if you’ve read Gravity’s Rainbow, if you are interested in the literary periphery and associative ephemera, then you would do well to add this book to your collection.