Thomas Pynchon and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice(s) and the Affective Politics of Nostalgia

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-312
Journal / PublicationAdaptation
Issue number3
Online published3 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


This essay examines Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 Inherent Vice and Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2014 adaptation of the novel. These works are closely connected, and can be effectively viewed as two parts of a single transmedia text which includes a novel, a film, and two trailers. All of the constituent parts of this meta-Inherent Vice are informed by their engagement with nostalgia. Yet it is precisely here that the texts diverge from each other most markedly, activating different types of nostalgia for different purposes. While much contemporary scholarship relies on Svetlana Boym’s reflective/restorative binary to conceptualize the phenomenon of nostalgia, this reading argues that a public/personal divide offers another perhaps more appropriate lens to view the differences between the two versions of Inherent Vice. Pynchon’s novel emphasizes the political potential and social aspects of nostalgia, while Anderson’s film focuses on its personal, affective impact.

Research Area(s)

  • Nostalgia, book and movie trailers, politics, memory, neo-liberalism