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Thus, both Oedipa and Metzger choose either to not see, or admit the existence of, things which go against their advantage or pattern. So Driblette’s, the director of the Jacobean play, statement of ‘you can put together clues, develop a thesis… You could waste your life that way and never touch the truth’ takes on a self-referential tone of reading Pynchon’s novel. As J.Kerry Grant states, ‘the novel resists interpretation to an extraordinary degree, especially if “interpretation’’ is taken to mean the effort to tease out a unitary and more or less comprehensive account of the novel’s message.’ The act of creating patterns and meaning, and developing a thesis, inevitably leads to neglecting that which doesn’t fit. By creating meaning, the novella argues, we collect like arguments and symbols, but there is much we have left out, other meanings we have conveniently chosen to ignore.
Nabokov’s short story, ‘Signs and Symbols’, is also concerned with ways in which literature is read. It involves a boy akin to Oedipa: he has been diagnosed with ‘referential mania’, where he ‘imagines that everything happening around him is a veiled reference to his personality and existence.’ His parents go to visit him in hospital where they are told he has attempted suicide again. They return home and get a succession of three phone calls - two calling the wrong number, the other left undetermined. The matter of contention surrounding the story is whether or not the third call is from the hospital telling the parents of their son’s successful attempt at suicide.
John Hagopian claims that, ‘the signs and symbols of the story inexorably accumulate to make that third ring a portent of death.’ He points towards such symbolism as: ‘the subway train lost its life current between two stations’ and, ‘A few feet away, under a swaying and dripping tree, a tiny unfledged bird was helplessly twitching in a puddle.’ However, his assertion that these symbols ‘inexorably accumulate’ to mean that the third ring is about the boy’s suicide is in itself a type of overreading the story, a trap set by Nabokov that he has fallen into. As William Carroll states, ‘’referential mania’ is a critical disease all readers of fiction suffer from.’