The Myth of the Enlightened Supermen in Gravity’s Rainbow
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This paper sets out to examine the influence of Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment on post-war American literature. Despite being widely recognized as a seminal work of the Frankfurt School critical theory as well as the forming of the socio-political counterculture movement of the 1970s, Dialectic’s influence on the lower arts like superhero comic books has barely been explored in the academic debate. In his postmodern novel Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), Thomas Pynchon incorporates this scientific myth of enlightenment throughout the narrative. This paper draws the historical, political and cultural connections between the origin of the superhero and the enlightenment’s Übermensch.