The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens has acquired the archive of “Gravity’s Rainbow” author Thomas Pynchon, considered by many to be among the greatest novelists of our time, officials said Wednesday.
Comprising 70 feet of materials created between the late 1950s and the 2020s — including typescripts and drafts of each of his novels, handwritten notes, correspondence and research — Pynchon’s literary archive offers an unprecedented look into the working methods of the famously private author.
Pynchon, now 85, is the author of eight novels and a short story collection. The work has been translated into more than 30 languages and is considered an influence on generations of writers. “Inherent Vice,” his 2009 private-eye novel set in early 1970s Los Angeles, was adapted into a film by Paul Thomas Anderson in 2014.
“Bringing a writer of Pynchon’s caliber to The Huntington is an expression of our long-standing investment in American history and culture, while underscoring our commitment to 20th-century and contemporary literature,” said Karen Lawrence, president of The Huntington.
Lawrence, a literary scholar whose research focuses on James Joyce, noted that The Huntington’s support of advanced research in the humanities, as well as the depth and breadth of the library’s historical collections, will enable contextual and sustained inquiry into Pynchon’s work.
Pynchon has set his novels repeatedly in California — from “The Crying of Lot 49” to “Vineland” and “Inherent Vice,” said Karla Nielsen, The Huntington’s curator of literary collections.
The Pynchon archive is currently being processed and is slated to be opened to qualified researchers within the next year, according to the library.
The author is known for his desire for privacy and only a few confirmed photos of him are known to exist.
“We expect Pynchon’s archive to attract profound attention from those wishing to better understand his work,” noted Sandra Ludig Brooke, Avery Director of the Library at The Huntington. “We are honored that Pynchon has entrusted his papers to The Huntington and look forward to stewarding them into a long future for American cultural history.”
In 1974, Pynchon received the National Book Award for “Gravity’s Rainbow,” deemed among the great historical novels of the era. The author received a MacArthur “genius grant” in 1988, and his most recent novel, “Bleeding Edge,” was short-listed for the National Book Award in 2013.