Pynchon is widely regarded as one of the most eminent literary stylists in contemporary American fiction. His novels, often described as labyrinthine or encyclopedic in scope, are characterized by an aura of great mystery and reveal a knowledge of many disciplines in the natural and social sciences. Pynchon’s use of sophisticated ideas is balanced by his verbal playfulness with such elements as black humor, outlandish puns, slapstick, running gags, parody, and ridiculous names. Through this blend of serious themes and comic invention and combination of documented fact and imaginative fantasy, Pynchon paradoxically affirms and denies the notion that mundane reality may possess hidden meaning. Living amidst the chaos of modern existence that is mirrored in the fragmented structures of his novels, Pynchon’s protagonists typically undertake vague yet elaborate quests to discover their identities and to find meaning and order in their lives. While Pynchon’s novels have often been faulted as labored or incomprehensible, all have provoked ongoing scholarly debate and earned widespread popularity among young readers.