Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


John Fowles and Thomas Pynchon, like many contemporary writers, have noted that modern Western societies are dominated by arbitrarily created hierarchies. The major purpose of their fiction is to expose arbitrariness by increasing our desire to be self-conscious about our creation of social reality. The novels reveal the dualism and solipsism which are the results of the creation of hierarchies, and the authors argue for a type of ambivalence which can mediate the poles of unsuitable dualisms and move us to an "interface," or privileged position, which is not dominated by either pole of a duality.;Fowles' and Pynchon's works reveal a technological, or man-made, dualism which falsely splits the world into "Us and Them," or into pseudo "Preterite" and "Elect" components. My thesis examines their depiction of this "technological hierarchy." Fowles' The Aristos argues for the emergence of a class of aristoi who will abolish man's dualism, and Pynchon's "Entropy" shows how the worlds of the "Hothouse" and the "Street" can be integrated. Fowles' The Collector illustrates the war of the aristoi and the hoi polloi, and Pynchon's V. examines the complete arbitrariness of many social realities. Fowles' The Magus and Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 show how men can be initiated into a self-awareness which allows them to understand their arbitrary realities, and Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman and Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow examine the interface, and show how reality is infinitely malleable if one can find where one order of being changes to another.;This study shows that Fowles creates allegorical fiction examining the Elect and preterite in terms of Heraclitean philosophy, and that Pynchon examines technological hierarchies through complex analogies drawing on highly specialized technical vocabularies. While Fowles is singularly concerned with the relationship of the aristoi and the hoi polloi in modern societies, Pynchon creates encyclopedic fiction. Pynchon stresses the fact that human acts are arbitrary in an indeterministic world, and Fowles believes in a teleonomic world in which the human will must ultimately create a transcendent order. Fowles' and Pynchon's works ultimately have a strong thematic similarity, but they differ widely in style and methodology.



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