“Orders Behind the Visible” – Puritan Elements in the Polish Translation of "Gravity’s Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon

Keywords: Thomas Pynchon, literary translation, American literature, Puritanism, paranoia


The article discusses contemporary American writer Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, a leading representative of postmodernism in literature. The study contains an examination of possible references to Puritanism in his novel, Gravity’s Rainbow. Religious motifs seem to play a crucial role in the interpretation of Pynchon’s work where the past is combined with the present and the Puritan religious doctrine merges with a paranoid approach to reading. Then, fragments from Gravity’s Rainbow in Polish translation are analyzed in terms of preserving the source text’s productive potential regarding the most important Puritan themes in the novel, e.g. animal symbolism and the doctrine of Preterition. Finally, the study offers conclusions related to the extent to which Puritan elements are recreated in the target text, highlighting the most considerable losses and gains in the translation process.

Author Biography

Łukasz Barciński, University of Rzeszow, Rzeszow

PhD – obtained a PhD in linguistics (literary translation) at the University of Rzeszow in 2015. Assistant Professor in the Section of the Theory of Translation, Institute of English Studies, the University of Rzeszow. A translator of specialist (legal, business) and literary texts (e.g. The Cruelest Cut by Rick Reed). Scope of research: postmodern, postcolonial and experimental literature, performance studies, poststructuralism and contemporary translatology. Selected publications: A Study of Postmodern Literature in Translation as Illustrated Through the Selected Works of Thomas Pynchon (2016). Contact address: lukaszbarcinski@o2.pl.


Barciński, Łukasz. A Study of Postmodern Literature in Translation as Illustrated through the Selected Works by Thomas Pynchon. Rzeszów: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Rzeszowskiego, 2016.

The Book of Common Prayer. 1957. Web. 19 July 2014. http://www.bcponline.org/Misc/catechism.htm.

Fowler, Douglas. A Reader’s Guide to Gravity’s Rainbow. Ann Arbour: Ardis, 1980.

Mackey, Louis. “Paranoia, Pynchon, and Preterition.” Substance 10, 1, 1981: 16–30, http://doi.org/10.2307/3684395.

Moore, Thomas. The Style of Connectedness. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987.

Nicol, Bran. The Cambridge Introduction to Postmodern Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511816949.

Price, Victoria H. Christian Allusions in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon. New York: Peter Lang, 1989.

Pynchon, Thomas. Gravity’s Rainbow. New York: Viking Press, 1973.

Pynchon, Thomas. Tęcza grawitacji. Transl. Robert Sudół. Warszawa: Prószyński i S-ka, 2001.

Sanders, Scott. “Pynchon’s Paranoid History.” Twentieth Century Literature 21, 2, 1975: 177–192, http://doi.org/10.2307/440707.

Weisenburger, Steven C. A Gravity’s Rainbow Companion. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1988.