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Thomas Pynchon’s “Against the Day” is a highly anticipated audiobook that has garnered much attention. As a literary giant, Thomas Pynchon’s reputation precedes him, making this book an exciting and enticing subject for review. This audiobook review will provide an in-depth analysis of the audiobook experience, and its strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, it will evaluate the themes, storytelling techniques, characters, and symbolism present in “Against the Day.”

If you’re a fan of Thomas Pynchon or an audiobook enthusiast, stick around. This one’s for you!

Key Takeaways

  • Thomas Pynchon’s “Against the Day” is a highly anticipated audiobook that has garnered much attention.
  • This audiobook review provides an in-depth analysis of the audiobook experience, and its strengths and weaknesses.
  • It will evaluate the themes, storytelling techniques, characters, and symbolism present in “Against the Day.”
  • Stick around if you’re a fan of Thomas Pynchon or an audiobook enthusiast. This one’s for you!

About Thomas Pynchon

Thomas Pynchon is an American writer born in 1937 in Long Island, New York. He is known for his postmodern writing style, complex plots, and esoteric references. Although he gained early fame for his novel “The Crying of Lot 49,” Pynchon’s most famous work is likely “Gravity’s Rainbow,” which won the National Book Award in 1974.

Pynchon often explores themes related to history, science, and politics, and his writing is often praised for its intricate constructions and wordplay. His works have been translated into multiple languages and have earned him numerous accolades, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 1988.

Despite his literary contributions, Pynchon is known for his reclusive nature and has given few interviews over the years. He remains an enigmatic figure in the literary world, inspiring many readers and writers alike.

Overview of “Against the Day”

Against the Day overview image

In “Against the Day,” Thomas Pynchon weaves a complex tale, spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The novel follows three families, the Traverse, the Webb, and the Chums of Chance, as they navigate an intricate world of science, politics, and revolution.

The story takes place across various locations, from Chicago to Siberia, and features a vast array of characters, each with their own unique perspectives and experiences. Despite the complexity of the plot, the overarching themes of the novel center on the struggle between power and resistance, as well as the exploration of the human condition in a rapidly changing world.

Throughout “Against the Day,” Pynchon employs an array of literary techniques, including surrealism, magical realism, and historical fantasy, to create a rich and engaging narrative. These elements, in combination with the intricate plot and expansive cast of characters, make for an unforgettable reading experience.

Overall, “Against the Day” is a challenging, yet fulfilling novel that pushes the boundaries of modern literature. Its themes and plot remain relevant today, cementing its place as a classic work of fiction.

The Audiobook Experience

The audiobook experience of “Against the Day” provides a unique listening experience for fans of Thomas Pynchon’s works. The audiobook version of this novel is narrated by Dick Hill in his engaging and captivating style, bringing the characters to life and immersing listeners in the complex world of the book.

In terms of pacing, the audiobook follows the deliberate pace of the novel, allowing listeners to fully appreciate the intricate plot and themes explored by Pynchon. The narration provides a helpful guide to understanding the complex ideas presented in “Against the Day.”

The audiobook format allows listeners to engage with the text in a new way, experiencing the novel through the spoken word. It is especially beneficial for those who may struggle with the denser aspects of the book when reading it on their own.

Overall, the audiobook experience of “Against the Day” is a must-listen for fans of Thomas Pynchon’s works and those interested in exploring the intricacies of this complex novel through a new medium.

Analysis of Themes and Symbolism

Themes and Symbolism

Thomas Pynchon’s “Against the Day” is a dense work that explores a multitude of themes and symbolism. One of the primary themes is time, and the novel plays with various notions of temporal manipulation, including time travel and time loops. The use of symbolism is also prevalent, with many recurring images and motifs that contribute to the overall depth and complexity of the work.

The Theme of Time

The manipulation of time is a recurring theme throughout “Against the Day.” The novel explores various concepts of time, from linear time to cyclical time, highlighting the impact of time on individuals and society. The characters often find themselves transcending time, moving backward and forwards through history and experiencing alternative futures. Through these characters, Pynchon implies that time is no longer an absolute or fixed concept.

Symbolism in “Against the Day”

Pynchon’s use of symbolism is pervasive throughout “Against the Day,” contributing to the novel’s overall complexity. One example of this symbolism is the recurring imagery of the lightbulb, which is associated with the themes of progress, technology, and enlightenment. The lightbulb serves as a symbol of the transformative power of science and the impact of human innovation on society. Another recurring motif is the presence of animals, such as the crow and the horse, which represent the characters’ connection to nature and the earth.

The Significance of Themes and Symbolism

The themes and symbolism utilized in “Against the Day” are not merely decorative or ornamental; rather, they contribute to the novel’s literary depth and significance. The exploration of time and the use of symbolism offer unique insights into the fundamental questions of human existence and the impact of technology on society. The novel can be read on multiple levels, and its themes and symbolism provide fertile ground for analysis and interpretation.

Character Development and Storytelling

Thomas Pynchon’s “Against the Day” features a myriad of complex and interconnected characters whose development is central to the novel’s overarching themes. Through their richly detailed and often idiosyncratic personalities, Pynchon employs various storytelling techniques to weave a multi-layered and intricate narrative that spans continents and centuries.

One notable aspect of Pynchon’s approach to character development is his use of literary allusions and historical references to contextualize and enrich his characters’ backgrounds, motivations, and beliefs. For instance, the character of Professor Vanderjuice is heavily influenced by the real-life mathematician Georg Cantor and his revolutionary theories on infinity and infinities.

Furthermore, Pynchon’s ability to evoke a sense of psychological depth and interiority in his characters is a testament to his mastery of the craft. Through their thoughts, perspectives, and interactions with the world around them, Pynchon imbues his characters with a rich sense of humanity and complexity that makes them feel like real people rather than mere constructs of the narrative.

Overall, the character development and storytelling in “Against the Day” stand as a testament to Thomas Pynchon’s literary prowess and his ability to craft compelling and unforgettable works of fiction.

Strengths and Weaknesses

After carefully evaluating “Against the Day” as both an audiobook and a literary work, we have identified several strengths and weaknesses worth noting.


One of the greatest strengths of the audiobook is the narration by George Guidall. His expert vocal inflections and dynamic performance bring the characters and scenes to life, captivating listeners from start to finish.

Another strength of “Against the Day” is Pynchon’s masterful use of language. His descriptions are vivid and richly detailed, immersing the reader in the story’s fantastical world. The themes of science, mathematics, and philosophy are explored with a depth and nuance that reward careful consideration.


Despite its strengths, “Against the Day” may not be for everyone. The complex plot and multitude of characters can be overwhelming at times, making it difficult to follow if not approached with patience and attention to detail.

For some, the book’s length may also be a weakness. With over 1,000 pages, it requires a significant investment of time and effort to fully appreciate.

Overall, while “Against the Day” has its challenges, its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. Any reader or listener who appreciates richly imagined worlds, complex characters, and detailed explorations of scientific and philosophical concepts will find much to enjoy in this audiobook and literary work.

Reception and Legacy

Since its publication in 2006, “Against the Day” has garnered both critical acclaim and mixed reviews. While some praise Thomas Pynchon’s ambitious scope and poetic prose, others criticize the novel’s length and convoluted plot. However, regardless of the divisive reception, “Against the Day” has left a lasting legacy in the literary world, cementing Pynchon’s reputation as a master of postmodern fiction.

The novel’s impact on readers and future works is evident in its influence on contemporary literature, particularly in the realm of science fiction and magical realism. The book’s themes of time, identity, and the human condition continue to resonate with readers, inspiring new generations of writers.

Overall, “Against the Day” may not be a universally beloved work, but its legacy and impact on the literary world cannot be denied.


Overall, Thomas Pynchon’s “Against the Day” is a complex and challenging work that demands careful attention and active engagement from its readers. As an audiobook, it presents unique opportunities and challenges, with a skilled narrator helping to bring the intricate world and characters to life in new ways.

While there are certainly aspects of the audiobook that could be improved, such as the pacing and occasional confusion of multiple narrators, the overall experience is an immersive and engaging one.

As a literary work, “Against the Day” is a significant and enduring contribution to the world of literature, exploring powerful themes of science, technology, capitalism, and morality in a way that is both ambitious and thought-provoking. Its legacy is one that will undoubtedly continue to influence and inspire readers for generations to come.

In conclusion, for those willing to invest the time and effort necessary to fully engage with its complexities, “Against the Day” is a remarkable and rewarding literary journey that offers new insights and challenges at every turn.

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