Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon
A Novel

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Synopsis

A Time magazine and New York Times Best Book of the Year 

Charles Mason (1728–1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733–1779) were the British surveyors best remembered for running the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland that we know today as the Mason-Dixon Line. Here is their story as reimagined by Thomas Pynchon, featuring Native Americans and frontier folk, ripped bodices, naval warfare, conspiracies erotic and political, major caffeine abuse.

Unreflectively entangled in crimes of demarcation, Mason and Dixon take us along on a grand tour of the Enlightenment’s dark hemisphere, from their first journey together to the Cape of Good Hope, to pre-Revolutionary America and back to England, into the shadowy yet redemptive turns of their later lives, through incongruities in conscience, parallaxes of personality, tales of questionable altitude told and intimated by voices clamoring not to be lost.

Along the way they encounter a plentiful cast of characters, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Samuel Johnson, as well as a Chinese feng shui master, a Swedish irredentist, a talking dog, and a robot duck. The quarrelsome, daring, mismatched pair—Mason as melancholy and Gothic as Dixon is cheerful and pre-Romantic—pursues a linear narrative of irregular lives, observing, and managing to participate in the many occasions of madness presented them by the Age of Reason.
 

About Thomas Pynchon

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Thomas Pynchon is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity’s Rainbow, Slow Learner, a collection of short stories, Vineland, Mason and Dixon, and, most recently, Against the Day. He received the National Book Award for Gravity’s Rainbow in 1974.
 
Published June 13, 2012 by Penguin Press. 786 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Mason & Dixon

The New York Times

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Now that Thomas Pynchon novels are available as e-books, why not take “Mason & Dixon” to the beach?

Jun 21 2012 | Read Full Review of Mason & Dixon: A Novel

AV Club

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Snow-Balls have flown their Arcs, starr'd the Sides of Outbuildings, as of Cousins, carried Hats away into the brisk Wind off Delaware," begins Thomas Pynchon's new novel Mason & Dixon, and readers may be forgiven for asking themselves, "What does he mean by that?"

Mar 29 2002 | Read Full Review of Mason & Dixon: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Pynchonites — Thomas Pynchon's numerous cult followers — will swarm over Mason & Dixon, a great beached whale of a new novel, examining its entrails for signs and portents.

May 09 1997 | Read Full Review of Mason & Dixon: A Novel

Slate

If this book is not delivering pleasure, by, let’s say, the Battle of Waterloo, then I will quit reading posthaste and mount an impassioned defense of the practice of abandoning books.

Dec 12 2012 | Read Full Review of Mason & Dixon: A Novel

Monsters and Critics

With the 30 April publication of Pynchon's Mason & Dixon, every sundry sort of Pynchonesque academic and all preacheriferous zealots of various Pynchonian persuasions will, no doubt, find material enough to declaim, discourse, and debate — until the cows keel over — the maestro-work merits of the...

Mar 20 2008 | Read Full Review of Mason & Dixon: A Novel

The Moderate Voice

I knew I was in for a treat from the moment I read the Pynchonic run-on opening sentence of Mason & Dixon: “Snow-Balls have flown their Arcs, starr’d the Sides of Outbuildings, as of Cousins, carried Hats away into the brisk Wind off Delaware,-the Sleds are brought in and their Runners carefully...

May 18 2008 | Read Full Review of Mason & Dixon: A Novel

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