PYNCHON, Thomas. V. Philadelphia and New York: J. B. Lippincott, 1963.
8vo., original publisher's lavender cloth, blindstamped with multiple 'V' design to upper cover, lettered in silver to spine; upper edge black; mustard yellow endpapers; original pictorial dust jacket designed by Ismar David; pp. 492, [iv]; upper edge with one small damp spot and a couple of very light scratches; some marginal sunning to edges and small smudge to lower corner of text block; otherwise a near-fine example in jacket which has been been roughly price-clipped but retains much of its colour, with some light shelf wear and a few nicks and chips to head and foot of spine, a short 1cm closed tear to lower panel; spine very lightly sunned; still a very good example.
First edition, in the correct first issue jacket, with chapter summaries and no reviews to the lower panel. Also laid in is a review slip, with the date of publication moved forward two days, and a new date stamp of 'Mar 18 1963' added.
When Pynchon released his debut novel in 1963, it evoked much confusion among readers, with the search for the central mysterious character known only as 'V' ranging from New York to Cairo and Alexandria to Malta, and a character list including sailors, spies, priests and philosophers. The plot focuses on the lives of Benny Profane, a war veteran who wanders New York City searching for meaning, and Herbert Stencil, an intellectual on a quest to discover the mysterious woman mentioned in his father’s diary.
Pynchon studied engineering at Cornell University, during which time he briefly served in the U.S. Navy. While at school, his own writing was strongly influenced by Vladimir Nabokov, whose lectures he regularly attended. Pynchon is also notoriously reclusive; very few photographs of him have ever been published, and rumours surrounding his location and identity have circulated since the 1960s.
The novel won The William Faulkner Foundation Award for Best First Novel of the Year upon publication, and was further nominated for a National Book Award.