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Pynchon, John, c.1626-1703, American colonist and merchant, b. England; son of William Pynchon. He emigrated to Massachusetts Bay colony with his father in 1630. When his father returned to England in 1652, young Pynchon acquired a profitable business and an influential position in Springfield. He established trading posts at Westfield, Northampton, Hadley, Hatfield, and Deerfield and held a number of public offices.

See J. C. Pynchon, Record of the Pynchon Family in England and America (1885; rev. by W. F. Adams, 1898).

Pynchon, Thomas, 1937-, American novelist, b. Glen Cove, N.Y., grad. Cornell, 1958. Pynchon is noted for his amazingly fertile imagination, his wild sense of humor, and the teeming complexity of his novels. He is sometimes grouped with authors of black humor (such as Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller), who turned from realism to fantasy to depict 20th-century American life. His early novels include V. (1963) and The Crying of Lot 49 (1966). His masterpiece is the complex and often obscure Gravity's Rainbow (1973, National Book Award), which displays his diverse erudition. Set in London during World War II, it is a discursive rumination on war and death. In 1984, he published a collection of early writings, Slow Learner. His later novels are Vineland (1990), the witty and encyclopedic Mason & Dixon (1997), the sprawling Against the Day (2006), and the psychedelic 1970s sleuth tale Inherent Vice (2009).

See studies by T. Tanner (1982), P. L. Cooper (1983), D. Seed (1988), S. C. Weisenburger (1988), J. Dugdale (1990), A. McHoul and D. Wills (1990), J. W. Slade (1990), J. Chambers (1992), H. Berressem (1993), A. W. Brownlie (2000), A. Mangen and R. Gaasland, ed. (2002), N. Abbas, ed. (2003), and H. Bloom, ed. (2003).

Pynchon, William, c.1590-1662, American colonist and theologian, b. England. An original patentee and assistant in the Massachusetts Bay Company, he migrated to America in 1630, where he helped found Roxbury and served as treasurer of the colony (1632-34). In 1636 he settled, and was commissioned to govern, a plantation at the confluence of the Connecticut and Agawam rivers, which he called Agawam but which was renamed Springfield in 1641. Through a flourishing fur trade he increased an already considerable fortune. While visiting England (1650), he published The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption, which expressed his liberal views of the atonement. The book was denounced as heretical and ordered burned in Massachusetts. Relenting somewhat but refusing to retract all of his opinions, Pynchon left his property to his son John and other children and returned permanently (1652) to England.
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