Professor Irwin Corey Accepts the National Book Award for Thomas Pynchon

Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York Thursday, April 18, 1974

Ralph Ellison:  The jury has determined to divide the prize between two writers.   To Thomas Pynchon, for GRAVITY'S RAINBOW which bridges the gap between  two cultures and puts the world of manipulation and paranoia within the  perspectives of history.  To Isaac Bashevis Singer for A CROWN OF FEATHERS  and a life-time of distinguished work revealing a skeptical, philosophical and  mischievous obsession with human and demonic character.  I present this not to  Mr. Singer, but to Mr. Pynchon.

Professor Irwin Corey:  However...I accept this financial stipulation - ah - stipend in  behalf of Richard Python for the great contribution which to quote from some of  the missiles which he has contributed...Today we must all be aware that protocol takes precedence over procedure.  However you say - WHAT THE - what does  this mean... in relation to the tabulation whereby we must once again realize that  the great fiction story is now being rehearsed before our very eyes, in the Nixon  administration...indicating that only an American writer can receive...the award for  fiction, unlike Solzinitski whose fiction does not hold water.  Comrades - friends,  we are gathered here not only to accept in behalf of one recluse - one who has  found that the world in itself which seems to be a time not of the toad - to quote  Studs TurKAL.  And many people ask "Who are Studs TurKAL?" It's not "Who are  Studs TurKAL?" it's "Who AM Studs TurKAL?"  This in itself as an edifice of the  great glory that has gone beyond, and to intuitive feeling of the American people,  based on the assumption that the intelligence not only as Mencken once said, "He who underestimates the American pubic - public, will not go broke."  This is  merely a small indication of this vast throng gathered here to once again behold and to perceive that which has gone behind and to that which might go forward into the future...we've got to hurdle these obstacles.  This is the MAIN deterrent  upon which we have gathered our strength and all the others who say, "What the  hell did that get?" - WE DON'T KNOW.  We've got to perforce with all the loving  boy... And as Miller once said in one of his great novels - what did the ... that language is only necessary when communication is endangered.  And you sit  there bewildered, and Pinter who went further said "It is not the lack of  communication but fear of communication." THAT'S WHAT THE GODDAMN  THING IS that we fear - communication.  Oh - fortunately the prize has only been given to authors - unlike the Academy Award which is given to a female and a male, indicating the derision of the human specie - God damn it!  But we have no paranoia, and Mr. Pynchon has attained, and has created for himself serenity, and  it is only the insanity that has kept him alive in his paranoia.  We speak of the  organ...of the orgasm...WHO THE HELL WROTE THIS?  And the jury has  determined to divide the prize between two writers - to Thomas Pynchon for his  GRAVITY'S RAINBOW.  Now GRAVITY'S RAINBOW is a token of this man's  genius...he told me so himself...that he other words, have been more  specific, but rather than to allude the mundane, he has come to the conclusion  that brevity is the importance of our shallow existence.  God damn.  Ladies and  Gentlemen.  To the distinguished panel on the dais and to the other winners, for  poetry and religion and science.  The time will come when religion will outlive its  usefulness.  Marx, Groucho Marx, once said that religion is the opiate of the  people.  I say that when religion outlives its usefulness, then opium...will be  human... All right...However, I want to thank Mr. Guinzburg, Tom Guinzburg of the  Viking Press, who has made it possible for you people to be here this evening to  enjoy the Friction Citation - the Fiction Citation.  GRAVITY'S RAINBOW - a small  contribution to a certain degree, since there are over three and a half billion people  in the world today.  218 million of them live in the United States which is a very  very small amount compared to those that are dying elsewhere...Well, I say that  you will be on the road to new horizons, for we who live in a society where sex is a  commodity and a politician can become a TV personality, it's not easy to conform  if you have any morality...I said that myself many years ago...But I do want to  thank the bureau...I mean the committee, the organization for the $10,000 they've  given out...tonight they made over $400,000 and I think that I have another  appointment.  I would like to stay here, but for the sake of brevity I must leave.  I do  want to thank you, I want to thank Studs TurKAL.  I want to thank Mr. Knopf who  just ran through the auditorium and I want to thank Breshnev, Kissinger - acting  president of the Unites States - and also want to thank Truman Capote and thank  you.

(originally recorded and transcribed by C. B. Coble)