This map plots the settings and references in Gravity's Rainbow
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By 1944, the main Blitz on London by German bomber planes was long over. However, the city had suffered severe damage and loss of life as a result of the campaign. Britain's victory in the Battle of Britain had prevented German bombers from entering British airspace, but this had encouraged German engineers to develop remote controlled missiles that did not require manned planes to target Britain.
The "Robot Blitz", or "Baby Blitz", consisted of offensives by V-1 and V-2 rockets. While the V-1 rockets could be heard for about ten seconds before they struck, the V-2 rocket travelled faster than the speed of sound, meaning that there was no warning of an impending strike. Londoners lived in constant fear of sudden destruction between the first attack on September 8th, 1944 and Victory in Europe Day on May 8th, 1945.
In total, 1,402 V-2s struck London. The estimated death toll from V-2 attacks on London is 2,754, with another 6,523 injured. In one incident, a missile struck the Rex Cinema in Antwerp on December 16, 1944, killing 567 people. This incident may well be the attack depicted in the novel's conclusion.
The Herman Goerring Casino is located on the French Riviera, on the south-east Mediterranean coastline of France. The area had been recently liberated by American parachute troops and 60,000 American and French ground troops, and it quickly reestablished itself as a popular resort, with the Cannes Film Festival being launched there in 1946.
The area has hot, dry summers and mild winters, enjoying about 300 days of sunshine per year. With the rise of the railways, it became a vacation spot for British and Russian aristocracy and royalty in the 19th century. It was also noted for its artistic population, with Picasso, Matisse and Edith Wharton spending time there.
The area now has a popuation of over two million, drawn from around 163 different nationalities.
The Crystal Palace was an iron and glass building set up in Hyde Park, London, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851.
The latest technological marvels of the Industrial Revolution and colonial exploration were displayed there, such as the Koh-i-noor diamond and the world's first automatic voting machine. The exhibition was visited by the likes of Charles Darwin, Charlotte Brontë, Lewis Carroll, as well as 6 million other members of the public.
The exhibition, though highly popular, attracted controversy among those who feared the mass attendance could breed revolution, as well as those who saw it as representing the worst excesses of capitalism.
The building was moved to Sydenham in 1854, where it stood until 1936 when it was destroyed by a fire.
Battersea Power Station was a coal-fired power station on the south bank of the Thames.
It was built in the 1930s after Parliament decided that electricity should be supplied by a publicly-owned utility with a standard voltage and frequency. Existing companies decided to operate out of a few large power stations rather than many smaller ones.
Battersea Power Station was the first of these. The plans were drawn up in 1927. The Thames would provide cooling water and enable easy delivery of coal by boat. Concerns that it would be an eyesore and cause damaging pollution were addressed by hiring famous architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, designer of the red telephone box, and implementing treatments of emissions to reduce the level of smoke.
Building was completed in 1935 on Station A. Station B was begun after the end of the Second World War.
Wormwood Scrubs Prison is a Category B men's prison located in West London.
It was built in 1874 using convict labour, after the head of the Prison Department, General Sir Edmund du Cane, had seen the Sing Sing Prison in New York.
During the Second World War, the prisoners of Wormwood Scrubs were evacuated, and the prison was taken over by the War Department. It served as a secure operating house for MI5, as well as MI8, the Radio Security Service.
This is another name for the Battle of the Bulge (16 December, 1944 - 25 January 1945), a German offensive through the Ardennes Mountains region of Belgium. Its official name was the Ardennes-Alsace campaign, and the German army referred to it as Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein (Operation Watch on the Rhine, a reference to the German hymn).
The German goal was to split the British-American line and capture the city of Antwerp, before encircling and isolating the Allied armies, forcing them to negotiate an armistice in Germany's favour, and enabling Germany to devote more resources to the battle on the eastern front.
The operation was planned and coordinated in secret, and it took the Allies by surprise. Allied air forces were grounded by the heavy winter conditions. However, fierce resistance, especially around the town of Bastogne, disadvantageous terrain, the arrival of reinforcements in the form of General Patton's legendary Third Army, and a change in weather conditions that allowed the Allies to mobilise their superior air force rendered the German offensive a failure.
Both sides suffered heavy casualties, and the Battle of the Bulge represented the most damaging battle of the war for American forces.
The Battle of Plassey took place on 23 June 1757, and was a victory for the British East India Company over the Nawab of Bengal and the French.
The battle took place on the banks of the Bhagirathi River in Palashi, Bengal, and was precipitated by an attack on Calcutta by the Newab of Bengal. Colonel Robert Clive led reinforcements from Madras and recaptured Calcutta, before taking the French fort of Chandernager. Outnumbered by the Newab's forces, the British forged a plot with some of his chiefs, who assembled their armies, but then purposefully did not send them in to fight.
This British victory allowed them to force the Dutch and the French out of South Asia, and establish dominance in the region for around 200 years.
Dutch term for The Hague, the third largest city in the Netherlands, with a population of 485,818. It is the provincial capital of South Holland.
The Hague is the seat of the Dutch parliament, government and Royal Court, as well as being the judicial capital of the United Nations.
Shell Mex House is located at 80 Strand, London. It was built in 1931 and was the headquarters of Shell-Mex and BP Ltd, a joint-venture company started by Shell and British Petroleum to unite their marketing efforts in the UK.
During the Second World War, the Ministry of Supply set up operations there, though the building was badly damaged by a bomb in 1940.
In 1948, Shell-Mex and BP Ltd resumed business there, until the companies separated in 1975. Shell worked there alone until 1990.
The building now houses Pearson PLC, which owns Penguin Books.
This is inaccurate.
It is earlier stated that Tchitcherine was born in 1905. Petrograd, now known as St. Petersburg, was only renamed Leningrad in 1924. Tchitcherine would have been 19 by this time. Whether this is an error on Pynchon's part, or whether Tchitcherine is simply applying the city's new name retroactively, is unclear.
Silbo Gomero is the language of whistling used by residents of La Gomera in the Canary Islands to communicate across the large ravines around the island. The language was adapted when the Spanish colonised the island in the 16th century. By the 20th century, the language was almost extinct, until the local government made it mandatory for children to study it.
Llandudno is a resort town in Conwy County Borough, Wales. It was designed to be a holiday destination in the Victorian era.
The town is famous for one literary connection: it is said to be where Lewis Carroll first told Alice Liddell the stories that would become Alice in Wonderland. Many scholars now argue that this is not the case, and that Carroll in fact never visited the town, but the association remains. In 1933, David Lloyd George dedicated a statue of the White Rabbit in the town.
The Wounded Knee massacre took place on December 29, 1890, near Wounded Knee Creek on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. A detachment of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment intercepted Spotted Elk's band of Lakota Indians and marched them to the creek before making camp. The rest of the regiment arrived and set up Hotchkiss guns around the camp.
When the U.S. troops attempted to disarm the Lakota, at least one was reluctant to part with his rifle. The situation rapidly escalated, and the U.S. troops ended up firing on the Lakota indiscriminately, killing men, women and children. At least 150 were killed and a further 51 were wounded, though some estimates put the death toll at 300. 25 U.S. troopers were also killed, with 39 wounded.
Nymphenburg Palace lies on the outskirts of Munich, Germany. It was the summer residence for the rulers of Bavaria.
The palace is built in the Baroque style, with facades 700 metres wide. The Stone Hall features frescoes by Johann Baptist Zimmermann and decorations by François de Cuvilliés. Some of the rooms have been redesigned with rococo or neoclassical stylings.
The palace is located in a 490 acre park with a canal and two lakes. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction.
The Bradbury Building is located at 304 South Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. The building is famous for having featured in numerous films, books and television series.
For the 1982 film Blade Runner, it housed J.F. Sebastian's apartment, and its roof was the scene for the famous rooftop chase sequence at the end. The building also featured in Double Indemnity (1944), D.O.A. (1950), M (1951), I, The Jury (1953), The Indestructible Man (1956), Good Neighbor Sam (1964), Chinatown (1974), Avenging Angel (1985), Murphy's Law (1986), Wolf (1994), Disclosure (1994), Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) and (500) Days of Summer (2009).
Here, Pynchon is referring to the 1969 film Marlowe, based on Raymond Chandler's novel The Little Sister, in which the famous private-eye is played by James Garner.