The University of Texas at Austin

Law in Popular Culture collection

Oklahoma City University Law Review
Volume 24, Number 3 (1999)
reprinted by permission Oklahoma City University Law Review



       Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon, expresses civic republican political and legal ethics. This claim may sound perverse, partly because to many readers the multiculturalism and attack on the founding fathers that pervades Mason & Dixon stands at the opposite of civic republicanism. Indeed, Mason & Dixon is anti-republican if one sees civic republican ethics as requiring unitary ideals of society, state and law, many of which Mason & Dixon seeks to deconstruct. But such unitary ideals are neither necessary nor sufficient for civic republicanism. Mason & Dixon expresses civic republicanism for three reasons. First, civic republican ethics is in some ways more open to including seemingly maverick forms of itself than other parts of republican theory. The Author will argue that the key necessary condition for civic republican ethics is public spiritedness, and that commitment to unity is not a necessary condition. Mason & Dixon is anti-republican in its deconstruction of ideals of a unitary American political and legal ethics traditionally associated with Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, all of whom are ridiculed in the book. Mason & Dixon deconstructs the unity associated with the American founding fathers. In doing so, Mason & Dixon sides more with deconstructive legal theory than traditional republicanism. But Mason & Dixon does present a public spirited republican ethic, albeit a dissident one. Second, Mason & Dixon is in the literary tradition of the historical novel, a tradition which inherently inclines to civic republican ethical themes. Third, even when Mason & Dixon is most at odds with the traditional historical novel 


and the inevitable republican political and legal ethics that clings to it, Pynchon's novel still unavoidably evokes both traditions.

     Thomas Pynchon's 1997 historical novel, Mason & Dixon, expresses civic republican political and legal ethics. This claim may sound perverse, partly because to many readers the multiculturalism and attack on the founding fathers that pervades Mason & Dixon stands at the opposite of civic republicanism. Indeed, Mason & Dixon is anti-republican if one sees civic republican ethics as requiring unitary ideals of society, state, and law, many of which Mason & Dixon seeks to deconstruct. But such unitary ideals are neither necessary nor sufficient for civic republicanism. Mason & Dixon expresses civic republican political and legal ethics without a commitment to unitary ideals.
     I do agree that much civic republican theory emphasizes unity. Thus, M.N.S Sellers, in his recent work on civic republican influence on the American Constitution, emphasizes that the ideals of republican participation flowed into the American Constitution from such Roman sources as Cicero's defense of the unitary ideals of the Roman republic against Caesar and the Greek historian Plutarch's histories of Roman defense of the unifying ideals of the republican tradition.1 Michael Sandel has also recently defended a republican interpretation of the American Constitution and legal tradition, which he counter poses to current disunifying themes in American legal and political theory.2 Certainly Sellers and Sandel are right in emphasizing unitary ideals as an important aspect of much civic republicanism, including that which influenced pre-revolutionary eighteenth-century America, the formation of the American republic, and the creation of the U.S. Constitution.
     However, Mason & Dixon can embrace disunity and still be civic republican for three reasons. First, civic republican ethics is in some ways more open to including maverick forms of itself than other parts of republican theory. I will argue that the key necessary condition for civic republican ethics is public spiritedness, and that commitment to unity is not a necessary condition. Mason & Dixon is anti-republican in its deconstruction of ideals of a unitary American political and legal ethics traditionally associated with Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, all of whom are ridiculed in the book. Mason & Dixon deconstructs the unity 


associated with the American founding fathers. In doing so, Mason & Dixon sides more with deconstructive legal theory than traditional republicanism.3 But Mason & Dixon does present a public spirited republican ethics, albeit a dissident one. Second, Mason & Dixon is in the literary tradition of the historical novel, a tradition which inherently inclines to civic republican ethical themes. Third, even when Mason & Dixon is most at odds with the traditional historical novel and the inevitable republican political and legal ethics that clings to it, Pynchon's novel still unavoidably evokes both traditions. Part One presents the overlap of civic republican ethics with the tradition of the historical novel and with Mason & Dixon. Part Two shows how Mason & Dixon functions as a postmodern historical novel, linking up with the traditional historical novel and its republican ethics, and also turning from these traditions. Mason & Dixon is a unique work, both republican and anti-republican, both echoing the traditional historical novel and questioning and overturning its premises.


     One of the most significant and relevant books on the historical novel, Georg Lukács' The Historical Novel, was written in German in 1936 and 1937 in Russia, where the Hungarian Marxist author was in exile, and thus long before the current civic republican revival in the West.4 Yet Lukács presented an analysis of the historical novel's ethics which locks in with much classical and contemporary republican theorizing about ethics. Furthermore, the novels that he places at the center of the classical historical novel tradition, such as those of Sir Walter Scott and James Fenimore Cooper, are directly relevant to the history behind Mason's and Dixon's wandering in eighteenth-century America. For Lukács the great historical novels wrench the reader away from an obsession with private life and private ethical conflicts and force them to see the possibility of individuals defining their identity in terms of large and small scale social, political, legal, and, above all, historical ethical conflicts. In The Young Hegel, a companion work to The Historical Novel, written in the same time period, Lukács defended Hegel's defense of a public ethics of social 


practices, called by Hegel Sittlichkeit, against a more private morality of individual conscience, called by Hegel Moralitat.5 The contemporary republican and Hegel scholar Charles Taylor discusses the ethical, legal, and political meaning of Hegel's distinction. Noting that Hegel was influenced by "civic humanism," which is just another term for republican or civic republican ethics, Taylor takes us back to
the models of Greece and Rome, which were so important throughout our modern history .... Here we have societies of citizen self-rule. A key concept among them is that which I call citizen dignity .... [The underlying intuition here is that as a citizen, I am an agent--I act in the world, I do significant things--as against a metic, or a slave, or a noncitizen who lives in a purely private world, prior to any public life.6
     For Taylor, when an individual is immersed in a Sittlichkeit, he or she can participate in the public spirited life of the world.7 Republicanism requires public spirited citizens.
     In The Historical Novel, Lukács filled in the literary side of republican ethical analysis. For Lukács a historical novel is above all a work that depicts Sittlichkeit, social ethical practices, and the individual's immersion in them. The great defining figure of The Historical Novel was Sir Walter Scott, whose dates (1771-1832) almost exactly paralleled Hegel's (1770-1831). Scott presented, in British novel form, the republicanism of the great German philosopher who was his contemporary. Scott's historical novels present individuals who explicitly gain their ethical identity through their immersion in society and history. The great historical novels of Scott arise on the shoulders of the great English social novels of the eighteenth century, such as those of Smollet and Fielding, but go beyond them in placing the individual not only in society, but also in the historical development of society. Scott's greatest novels depict the development of modern democratic republics in Britain, but always in a two-sided way, both as triumph and as tragedy. The triumph occurs because Scott presents in novel form what Montesquieu depicted in his great eighteenth-century republican work, The Spirit of the Laws: the growth of modern republics 


after the long hiatus between ancient republicanism and modern republicanism.8 But Scott does not neglect the tragedy: the contradictory development of republican democracy in the heart of a class-divided capitalist society; the tragedy of Scotland as it develops into a modern democratic republic while dominated and coerced by England; and the tragedy of especially oppressed groups in Scotland, particularly the highland clans, symbolized by the figure of Rob Roy.9
     Lukács' analysis of 1936-37 does not develop these themes as explicitly in terms of civic republican ethics as a modern republican could. But using intertextuality, the great tool of postmodern literary critics which focuses on how seemingly disparate texts shed light on each other, we can see how the links between Montesquieu, Hegel and Scott in Lukács' work point to our new understanding of Hegel and Montesquieu that is due to the revival of interest in republicanism of the last twenty five years. Hegel and Montesquieu are two of the greatest modern writers on republican legal and political ethics. They emphasize how the spirit of human beings is grasped differently by civic republicans, as they construct ideal polities and constitutions. Given the more recent understanding of the republicanism of Hegel and Montesquieu, their intertextual links with Scott show his novels to be imbued with the same republican ethics that define Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws and Hegel's Philosophy of Right.10 Indeed, the whole classical historical novel tradition that Scott started celebrates republican public spirited ethics as well.
     A number of Lukács' observations about Scott clearly imply this republican interpretation and Lukács also extends his account of the historical novel developed by Scott to describe Europe and specifically England and Scotland in the seventeenth and eighteenth century to include James Fenimore Cooper's novels about America in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Here too, much of Lukács' analysis in fact brings out the republicanism of Cooper.11 However, I now want to give my own reading, going far beyond Lukács because mine is based on republican research of the last twenty-five years, of civic republican ethical themes in Scott and Cooper that are directly relevant to Mason's and Dixon's journeys from Northern England to The Cape of Good Hope, St. Helena 


and ultimately to America. Scott's republicanism is more than just a general commitment to portraying public spirited ethics, and extends into the details of the formation of modern republics, both in their grandeur, triumphs and achievements, and in their misery and tragedy. It is because Scott's novels depict both triumph and tragedy that they are relevant to Mason & Dixon's America.
     The Heart of Mid-Lothian is one of Scott's finest republican novels.12 Like Scott's other novels of eighteenth-century Scotland such as Rob Roy, Waverly, and Redgauntlet, it's central historical theme is the uneasy unification of Scotland and England after 1707 under the rule of the Hanoverian King Georges, oppressors of revolutionary America, and of the Scottish (and English) Jacobites who persisted in opposing Hanoverian rule in favor of replacing it with the deposed Stuart Monarchy.13 The public events of The Heart of Mid-Lothian, taking place between 1736 and 1751, concentrate on the peculiar injustice under unification of imposing English law over Scottish law, in particular a Draconian English law that required execution for any woman for whom even the flimsiest evidence had been gathered that she had killed her child. This Draconian law strikes at the heart of the Deans family, a family which carries within itself the whole political and religious history of Scotland stretching throughout the period of English and Scottish civil wars of the seventeenth century to the events of the novel. Davie Deans, the father, fought in those wars as a Scottish puritan. He never accepted the restoration of 1660 or the glorious revolution of 1689. His dreams of a republican Scotland are based on the ideals of Scotland itself as found in the public spirited aspirations of its citizens. For Davie Deans, no compromise was possible. But for his daughter, Jennie, compromise was possible. When her sister was condemned to death on false evidence under the Draconian English law, Jennie walks to London to try to exonerate her. Scott presents the hope at the end of the novel that just as Jenny does save her sister through her long march, and through her spiritual recapturing of the family ideals, so too will Scottish and English constitutional unification work as long as Scotland is able to keep its own cultural ideals and its legal system.
     Thus Scott's republicanism is public spirited, which I take as the absolute necessary condition for any civic republican ethics, and the 


condition that allows historical novels from The Heart of Mid-Lothian to Mason & Dixon to be seen as republican. Scott's republicanism also demands a unifying vision for the republic; something which is not a necessary condition for republican ethics and is not found in any obvious sense in the multicultural and deconstructive Mason & Dixon. Perhaps more important than the specific unitary version of republicanism that emerges at the end of The Heart of Mid-Lothian is the republican public spirited ethics at its core. Mason & Dixon also possesses this defining feature of civic republican ethics as public spiritedness, even if it attacks typical unifying republican visions. Public spiritedness is more central to Scott's greatest novels than unity. Jennie Deans is no Madame Bovary, no Becky Sharpe, no Eugenie Grandet, to cite some of the greatest heroines of the social novels of the nineteenth century of Flaubert, Thackeray, and Balzac. These heroines remain clearly within a private realm. Jennie Deans is a republican heroine, and if there are few women in republican antiquity who can match her, a number of families described by the great republican historians of republican Rome and Athens can and do match the Deans family.
     I am following Lukács in seizing on a novel about Scotland to show the breadth of Scott's republicanism. The details of The Heart of Mid-Lothian, especially when linked to the events described in some of Scott's other novels of seventeenth and eighteenth century Scotland, shed concrete light on Mason's and Dixon's wanderings. Although Mason and Dixon both lived in England, their ties to Scotland and the Jacobite tradition are stressed throughout and the reason is partly thematic. Their Scottish links make them dissident Englishmen, much more willing than others to critique the British empire and other empires. Their Scottish antecedents do not go back as far as the early eighteenth- century events that touch off The Heart of Mid-Lothian, not to speak of the seventeenth-century English and Scottish civil wars. Nevertheless, Mason and Dixon are depicted as linked with the Scottish Jacobite revolution of 1745 against unification under the Handovers, which is part of the background of the later events of The Heart of Mid-Lothian and the subject of Scott's first historical novel, Waverly.14 Furthermore, the time frame of Mason & Dixon, stretching from 1761 to 1768 and even beyond that to Mason's death in 1787 after he returned to America, links Mason & Dixon to Scott's final Jacobite novel, Redgauntlet


which takes place in the Scotland of 1765- 67. The Jacobite theme of Mason & Dixon also links it with Rob Roy, Scott's novel about the great eighteenth-century rebel chieftain of the highland clans who sided with the Jacobites in 1715-16. Scott's Rob Roy unflinchingly depicts the downside of the growth of a modern republic like the Britain of the early eighteenth century, which succeeds only by destroying the highland clans of Rob Roy in Scotland. Nowhere in Mason & Dixon is the critique of empire and colonialism that pervades it stronger than the descriptions of the broken clan life of the Scottish highlands in Rob Roy.15
     With Rob Roy we reach a very important concept, for Scott, for Cooper following him, and for Mason & Dixon: the concept of dissident nonunitary republican public spirited ethics. Only with such a concept can we make the links between civic republican ethics, the classical nineteenth-century historical novels of Scott and Cooper, and Mason & Dixon. Mason and Dixon are public spirited republican protagonists who are dissidents, critics of empire and what seems to them and obviously to Pynchon, a false American triumphalist unity that Mason and Dixon observe and deconstruct even before it fully flowers after the American Revolution. For the most part Mason and Dixon are more like Jennie Deans than like Benjamin Franklin, and more like Davie Deans than like Jennie Deans. They are more like Rob Roy, whose public spiritedness can never share the unifying vision of republican Britain, than they are like Wilfred of Ivanhoe, in Scott's novel of the same name, who through his toleration achieves a unification between the Saxon rebels Robin Hood and his father Cedric, and the Norman King Richard the Lion Hearted.16 Mason and Dixon are also more like Robin Hood and Cedric than they are like Ivanhoe. Yet even in Mason & Dixon a unifying vision lurks behind the disunity. Mason winds up finally settling in America, along with his family, and is visited at the end of his life by that icon of unitary republican America, Benjamin Franklin, who, although thoroughly trashed at the beginning of the novel, appears at the end as a genuine friend and sympathetic figure.17
     If the Scottishness, particularly the dissident Jacobite Scottishness of Scott's novels, leads directly into the contradictory republican themes of Mason & Dixon, the Americanness of Cooper's novels as historical and republican tracts is even more directly relevant to Pynchon's novel in terms 


of historical framework. For Cooper moves us even closer to the themes of eighteenth-century British-American empire and colonialism that dominate Mason & Dixon.
     For all of its deconstructive scepticism, there is one theme that is never deconstructed in Mason & Dixon: multicultural deconstruction of the integrity and unity of American identify itself. This deconstruction begins with the Scottish dissidence of Mason & Dixon in a striking scene where Mason presents an unusual perspective on General Wolfe, the man who, through his defeat of Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City in 1759, brought about the enforced colonial peace between the French and English that came to exist in America just four years before Mason and Dixon arrived in America in 1763. Mason recalls how Wolfe was brought in to quell striking weavers in Sapperton, England.18 This attack of the British empire on itself begins Mason & Dixon's theme of the corruption of white English empire through colonialism, slavery, and the genocide of the American Indians, a theme that pervades Mason & Dixon and is summed up in one of the final pages: "Ev'rywhere they've sent us,--the Cape, St. Helena, America,--what's the element common to all? [... Slaves."19
     One of the key themes of Mason & Dixon is that post revolutionary America will not escape these scourges. It is important to remember that although peace between the French and the English in America, and to some extent the Native American allies of both was established in 1759, the immediate background to Mason and Dixon's arrival in 1763 was the renewed battles between the Indians and the English between 1759 and 1764. Indeed, the site of the Mason-Dixon line going west from Philadelphia along the southern end of Pennsylvania, exactly parallels the sites of some of the worst fighting between the English and the Indians in 1763 and 1764. The ambush of Colonel Henry Bouget's British troops at Bushy Run on their way to Fort Pitt, in the Southwest of Pennsylvania, occurred in August of 1763, just before Mason and Dixon arrived in America. As Bouquet's troops are attacked, they recall the almost total defeat of General Edward Braddock in the same area eight years earlier.20 In 1764, while Mason and Dixon are beginning their surveys, Bouquet 


marched once again toward Fort Pitt and into the wild Ohio territory in an expedition against Delawares, Shawnees, and Wyandots who were then in a state of semi-war with the British.21 Late in 1764 Bouquet arrived at an uneasy peace with the Delaware and Shawnee, which prevailed through 1767 when the Mason-Dixon line was completed and even beyond 1768 when Mason and Dixon leave America. The uneasy peace in Pennsylvania between 1764 and 1767, the time when most of the line is constructed, was based in part on the English government forbidding any more incursions into Native American territory west of the crest of the Allegheny Mountain Ridge. The settlers constantly violated this edict and the Delaware and Shawnee sporadically retaliated against the settlers.22 All of these events provide a crucial historical framework for Mason & Dixon, which is bitterly critical of English imperialism against the Indians. The novel uses the parallels between the Mason-Dixon line and the expeditions of Braddock and Bouqet as a symbolic way of depicting Mason's and Dixon's personal rejection of English and American triumphalism.
     In this context it might seem foolhardy to introduce Cooper, in spite of the historical relevance for Mason & Dixon of Cooper's five novel series on Natty Bumpo, in particular The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Pathfinder. In a painstaking historical reconstruction of the dates of the incidents portrayed in these novels, the historian Allan Nevins places The Deerslayer, the first chronologically in the series, in about 1745, with the skirmishes between the English and their Indian allies and The French and their Indian allies just beginning, and The Last of the Mohicans, the second chronologically, as occurring in 1757, right in the midst of the French, English, and Indian wars that form the immediate historical background to Mason & Dixon. The Pathfinder probably depicts events of two years later.23 These three novels present the same consolidation of the English empire that Mason & Dixon begins with, since the Mason-Dixon line itself demonstrates triumphalism generated by England's victory over France in 1759, as well as its hopes of triumph in the Indian wars that were going on even as Mason and Dixon begin their task.
     Although these historical links suggest possible interrtextual links between Cooper's novels and Mason & Dixon, many multicultural 


celebrators of Pynchon may raise skeptical eyebrows at yoking Cooper's history and Pynchon's history in any way. If one were to believe multiculturalist Kwame Anthony Appiah in a recent account of race in literature, Cooper only turned against Native Americans the alleged racism of Scott's Ivanhoe, where Jews and Normans are said by Appiah to be scourged as members of a lesser race than Saxons like Ivanhoe.24 This criticism does not do justice to either Scott or Cooper. Ivanhoe is a novel of tolerance, in which the oppression of Jew and Saxon is opposed by the republican spirit of the Saxon Ivanhoe, the Norman Richard the Lionhearted, and the Jewish heroine Rebecca. Appiah's claims are insupportable in the light of Ivanhoe without even bringing in Scott's Scottish novels. They are absurd from the standpoint of the great Scottish novels of dissidence like The Heart of Mid-Lothian and Rob Roy. The oppressed Jews and the oppressed Saxons in Ivanhoe are clearly linked with the oppressed Rob Roy and the oppressed Deans family in the Scottish novels, where there are no racial boundaries at all between oppressor and oppressed.
     As for Appiah's claim that Cooper's great Leatherstocking novels like The Last of the Mohicans are simply racist screeds, in fact, as Lukács pointed out in The Historical Novel, the theme of the Leatherstocking novels is the downside of empire, the disappearance of the great Indian clans, analogous to the theme of the decline of the Scottish highland clans throughout Scott's Scottish novels. The implicit love affair between Uncas, the last of the Mohicans, and Cora is not just a private matter, but is meant by Cooper to symbolize the rise again of the lost republic of the Mohicans, but united with the white republic. This dream of republican unification, similar to the ending of the Heart of Mid-Lothian, is made absolutely clear in the chant that is sung as the bodies of Cora and Uncas are brought back, after they are killed in the final battle, and laid together in state in the Lenape village. The Mohican republic is a dissident republic.25 It does not triumph any more than the highland clans of Rob Roy do. But Rob Roy is as much of a republican, albeit a dissident one, as Ivanhoe. Rob Roy, Uncas, and his father, Chingachgook, are dissident republicans. And Natty Bumpo himself, as brought out clearly in The Deerslayer and The Last of 


the Mohicans, is a great sympathizer of the dissident and doomed Mohican and Delaware republic.26
     It is the great figures of the dissident public spirted republicans in Scott and Cooper that overlap with the figures of Mason and Dixon, even as the two wander in America offering explicit messages that would have to confound and refute much republican emphasis on unity. Mason and Dixon are unusually dissident republicans.


     If Mason and Dixon are dissident republicans, then their characters as such must first begin to emerge in the historical frame of the novel, and only then in their psychological condition. Although it might be argued that a deliberately postmodern 1997 novel like Mason & Dixon cannot accomplish such a subordination of psyche to history, in fact the postmodern novel in general is more likely to be characterized in this way than the great modernist novels, at least in the form that the latter were described as they were canonized as the great modernist novels by modernist critics. And Mason & Dixon is no ordinary postmodern novel. It deliberately reinvents the historical novel from a postmodern perspective. If there was anything that was anathema to the great modernist critics of literature and the novel, it was a book like Lukács' The Historical Novel, precisely because it demanded that psychological identity be much more dependent on historical and social processes than most of the great modernist critics could admit.
     The postmodern novelist and novel critics reversed this bias and allowed at least the theoretical possibility of society and history coming before character and thus, in Hegelian and republican terms, the possibility of ethical problems of politics, law, society, and history coming before the ethics of character. Thus, Mason & Dixon should provide a historical frame which is much more determinative of psychological identity than readers fashioned by modernism would be willing to accept or appreciate. Furthermore, the details of that frame will not be a mere canvas on which to delineate character, but will compete with and help shape character.
     For Lukács, there is a fundamental difference between real historical novels such as those of Scott and Cooper, and false modernist historical 


works like Flaubert's novel of ancient Carthage, Salambo, where the historical pageant is merely a backdrop for the study of characters who could be the same everywhere.27 Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The Heart of Mid-Lothian, The Deerslayer, Salambo, and Mason & Dixon all provide a specific historical milieu. But does the postmodern Mason & Dixon follow Scott and Cooper or Flaubert? My answer is that there is a clear and serious historical background to Mason & Dixon which links it with Scott's, Cooper's, and Lukács' real historical novels, both in their general themes and also in some of their specifics. Therefore, Pynchon defines character in terms of history much more than a typical modernist. Nevertheless, Pynchon's imitation and redoing of the classical historical novel, and particularly the defining of character by history, has a complex, ironic postmodern aspect. In short, Mason & Dixon mimics the classical historical novel and the republican ethics that flow from it by the way it defines the characters historically. But Mason & Dixon also questions and subverts the classical historical novel and its built-in republicanism.
     Rob Roy is a novel about dissident republicanism in the Scotland of 1715. The Last of the Mohicans is a novel about dissident republicanism among displaced Indian tribes and those who identify with them, such as Natty Bumpo, in the America of 1757. Mason & Dixon is a novel about two republicans from Northern England, both of whom identify with Scottish Jacobite dissidence. Between 1763 and 1767, in the process of establishing the Mason-Dixon line separating Pennsylvania from Maryland, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon enter into the heart of the American conflict between settlers and Indians as they proceed west from Philadelphia almost to the borders of the Ohio River, and closely paralleling the westward marches of Braddock and Bouquet.
     The Scottish dissident themes and the Native American themes are central to Mason & Dixon and lock in systematically with the theme of black slavery. A crucial part of the historical frame of Mason & Dixon is what some theorists of modernity have called the "world system" of the time, where increasingly such events as English dominance over Scotland, the destruction of the Native American tribes in America, and the world slave trade, are seen to be part and parcel of one system of exploitation and 


dominance.28 In encountering these interconnections, Mason and Dixon wander not only through the Indian Territory of Pennsylvania between Philadelphia and the Ohio River, but also south of the Mason-Dixon line to the slave states of Virginia and Maryland and north to New York. In Virginia they first meet a depraved George Washington, bragging about his fights during the French-English-Indian wars that ended in 1759, against Indians and French in Western Pennsylvania and the Ohio territory. Washington was with Braddock when the latter's army was almost destroyed in 1755. Washington also blusters about coming fights against the British.29
     One of his main complaints about the British is that they have tried to stop Pennsylvania settlement east of the Allegheny Mountains, that Ulster Scot settlers will not accept this ban on settlement, and that "we will be no more contain'd, than tax'd."30 Washington clearly expresses the link between Scotland and Pennsylvania, noting that the British connect "Indians West of the Allegheny Ridge, and their Scots beyond Hadrian's Wall."31 "Henceforth, it seems, the Irish and the Ulster Scots are to be upon the same terms with them (the English) as the Africans, Hindoos and other Dark Peoples they enslave [....]"32 Attended by a black slave who seems much smarter than he is, and of whose exploitation Washington seems completely unaware, Pynchon's Washington is at best ridiculous and at worst ominous.
     On another trip to Virginia, Mason and Dixon meet a rattle-brained Jefferson, who plagiarizes the concept of the pursuit of happiness from them.33 On a third trip south, this time to Maryland, Dixon encounters a cowardly slave trader beating a slave. Dixon appropriates the whip and turns it against the slave trader.34
     In addition to the encounters with black slavery in the American South, Mason and Dixon encounter it in other parts of the world. The novel traces their lives before and after they come to America. In 1760 they were sent 


to the Cape of Good Hope, now South Africa and then one of the key slave owning areas of the world. Their task was to chart the astronomical phenomenon of the Transit of Venus. Their experience of slavery in the Cape of Good Hope constantly frames and informs their perception of Native American and black slave life in America. Indeed the reader innocent of the newer multicultural history on which much of Mason & Dixon is obviously based, would have been much more likely to miss the significance of the interlocking history of English dominance in the 1760s over its white empire (Scotland and Ireland), and its American Indian empire, were it not for the constant references to the world system of black slavery as the defining point of this decade of dominance; a reference against which other parts of the British empire are to be understood.
     Indeed the reader innocent of the new (and old) multicultural history of prerevolutionary America or of Scott's historical novels about eighteenth- century Scotland or Cooper's historical novels about eighteenth-century America, might think that at least some of the Scottish, Irish, and Native American themes such as appear throughout the novel are fantasies. They are not. Pynchon has created a real historical tableaux, in which the westward march to create the new southern border of Pennsylvania reveals the area as the site of some of the most explosive violence in America at the time. The British battles spearheaded in Pennsylvania by Colonel Bouquet in 1763-64 against the Delaware, Shawnee and Wyandot form the immediate background. But, also key are the battles between the settlers moving constantly west of Philadelphia and the peaceful Conestoga, along with the more warlike Delaware and Shawnee, who were being more systematically attacked by Bouquet. In the east, the Iroquois league, with the exception of one of the six tribes, the Seneca, remained at peace with the English not only throughout the entire period before and after the events portrayed in Mason & Dixon, but also continued for the most part to side with the English in the American Revolutionary War. Thus the historical frame of Mason & Dixon is the high point of what was at that time western American violence, matched (and indeed surpassed) by the violence from the north central region of North America, the site of Pontiac's revolt against the English, and contrasted with the peace in New York and the Northeast, where the Iroquois League remained neutral until 1764 when, urged by William Johnson, the formidable Irish immigrant and chief liaison 


between the English and Iroquois, several hunting parties from the Iroquois League came into Pennsylvania to attack the Delaware and Shawnee.35
     Fortunately, the colonial violence that meets Mason and Dixon as they start their line has been known for years to specialists, and has been recently rediscovered and/or reexplored by the new multicultural American history. A key event that is now being taught in U.S. high schools and for a long time, although known to specialists, was ignored there, is the raid of the vigilantes known as the Paxton Boys on peaceful Conestoga Indians in Conestoga and Lancaster Pennsylvania in late 1763.36 In a recent review of a book defending multicultural history standards, Michael Berube cites the single fact that his children know about the Paxton Boys' raids as proof of the influence of multiculturalism on the teaching of American history in U.S. high schools.37 These raids are depicted in Mason & Dixon as a defining event of colonial brutality against the native Indian population, the one event that makes clearest to Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon the links between violence against Native Americans in Pennsylvania and violence against Black slaves in the Cape of Good Hope and Maryland.38
     Another key piece of the new (and old) multicultural history that Pynchon uses is the discovery of the Scottish and Irish roots of many of the settlers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.39 In Mason & Dixon this creates an ironic series of reflections, on the violent and gun toting settlers of Pennsylvania, who have replaced the unitary republican protagonists of such earlier historical novels about prerevolutionary and revolutionary America as Howard Fast's The Unvanquished and Lion Feuchtwanger's Proud Destiny.40 These settlers are portrayed as not only racist killers of Native Americans, but also as oppressed Sottish, Irish, and Scotch-Irish Ulstermen who were forced to emigrate out of their native Scotland and Ireland to such places as the wilds of Pennsylvania.
     If Mason & Dixon is to be seen as a republican novel, then it cannot be seen as such by linking it to the unitary republicanism of The Unvanquished


or Proud Destiny. It's republican ethics must arise out of Mason & Dixon's deconstructive multicultural attack on empire itself. The Unvanquished was published in 1942 as part of the left popular front against the fascism movement in literature, a movement whose European aspects were chronicles in Lukács' The Historical Novel.41 The Unvanquished attempted to retrieve America's strongest claims to be a democratic republic. Fast's novel deliberately celebrated the unitary republicanism of Washington, who is simply a besotted slave owner in Mason & Dixon. Proud Destiny, also a product of the popular front, was written after Feuchtwanger, who was celebrated in The Historical Novel as a major German writer of historical novels against fascism, turned his attention to his new country of America. Proud Destiny, published in 1947, celebrated Benjamin Franklin's unitary republicanism.42 Franklin, as already indicated, comes off better in Mason & Dixon than Washington and Jefferson, but only slightly. He is ridiculed in the early part of the novel, as is the whole Philadelphia establishment, including most of the Quakers, who are depicted as, at best, extremely ineffective opponents of frontier Pennsylvania violence against Native Americans.
     Franklin, Washington, and Jefferson are not republican heroes in Mason & Dixon. The wild Pennsylvania settlers, constantly analogized to the slave owners of the Cape of Good Hope, Maryland, and Virginia certainly are not republican heroes. But neither are the slaves nor the Native Americans themselves elevated to the status of a dissident republicans, such as Scott's Jenny Deans and Rob Roy and Cooper's Uncas and Chingachgook. If there are dissident republican heroes in Mason & Dixon, it is Mason and Dixon themselves.
     One caveat: the dissident republican heroism of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon emerges out of the historical framework of a novel that has many aims. Mason & Dixon is a complex, postmodern novel with many dimensions. My only claim is that one of those dimensions is dissident republicanism emerging out of the form of the historical novel itself. Certainly, in its subject matter, Mason & Dixon is a historical novel. But in what sense is it a historical novel in its form? Mason & Dixon lacks what might be called the teleological plot structure found in most of the novels of Scott, Cooper, Fast, and Feuchtwanger. Rather than a central plot with all episodes aimed at getting to its resolution, a method typical of classic 


nineteenth-century novels, historical or not, Mason & Dixon possesses the loose episodic structure of the typical eighteenth-century road novels of Smollet and Fielding. However, not all classic nineteenth-century novels are teleological. A good example of a historical Scott novel that is episodic and a road novel, rather than teleological, is Quentin Durward, whose episodic form mirrors its approach to history.43 The fifteenth-century Scottish knight Quentin Durward wanders through the France of Louis XI as part of a Scottish guard protecting the King. As Scott makes clear in the preface, Louis XI represents for him the antithesis of public spirited service represented by Quentin Durward and his fellow Scottish guards, who might be characterized, along with Ivanhoe, as republican knights.44 The episodic structure of Quentin Durward, which allows contemporary France to be criticized as Durward travels through it, resembles very much the episodic structure of Mason & Dixon, as the two Northern English dissidents wander through a world of slavery and exploitation that in many ways horrifies them. Thus, in Mason & Dixon, the episodic structure works to establish the public spirited critique that Mason and Dixon make of world empire, particularly as it appears to be symbolically concentrated along the Mason-Dixon line.
     One can take this point a step further. The tightly woven nineteenth century novel arises out of the more episodic eighteenth-century novel, which in turn has close affinities with ancient political histories, including those of the historians of republican Rome, Plutarch and Dionysus of Hallicarnusus. These stories of ancient republican founders of Athens, Rome, and Sparta in turn provide significant raw material for Montesquieu's republican Spirit of the Laws, which in turn strongly influenced the U.S. Constitution. Much of the very earliest history of Rome in Plutarch and Dionysus is geographical and ethnological history, whereby the founder of the ancient city state helps to clarify what unity is already there. The histories of Plutarch and Dionysus even show how unity was brought to a diverse populace by public spirited republican founders of the city of Rome.45 Helping to clarify preexisting unity and also to help bring more unity is also seen to be the republican task of Washington in The Unvanquished, and Franklin in Proud Destiny. Mason and Dixon present 


an ironic variation on this task. It is their task to deconstruct the ideal unity that previous republicans had found in pre-revolutionary America, and to shed light on the deeper disunity of the country brought about precisely by its role in the world system of slavery and exploitation of aborigines. Both the dissident Quaker surveyor, Jeremiah Dixon, and the astronomer Charles Mason, who clings in the face of corruption to the integrity of his science, present Jeremiahs against empire, Jeremiahs which resemble very much the critical stances of the ancient Hebrew prophets and the ancient republican founders of Athens, Rome, and Sparta.46
     The ironic link between Mason and Dixon and the ancient republican founders emerges above all in the powerful symbol of the Mason-Dixon line itself, which becomes, despite their intentions, both a violating weapon/machine, an eighteenth-century bulldozer into the heart of the Indian territory of the American West, and a permanent division/weapon/machine/sword between slave and nonslave America.
     Their role as dissident travelers and ironic founders of a new part of the world system is crucial to defining Mason and Dixon as characters. It is this feature that makes Mason & Dixon a true historical novel in Lukács' sense and a work of civic republican ethics. Yet as we follow Mason and Dixon on their journey through the world system as eighteenth century Quentin Durwards, as republican knights, we must not expect their observations to be always strictly realistic, as in historical novels by Scott, Cooper, Fast, or Feuchtwanger. Pynchon uses both myth and realism to allow Mason and Dixon to step forward as public spirited founders or anti-founders of America, whose large scale journey of public discovery is more important than their private concerns.
     The picture of Mason and Dixon as mythical travelers and discoverers begins with an early evocation of ancient oracles. "Why mayn't there be Oracles for us in our time? Gate-ways to Futurity? That can't all have died with the ancient Peoples."47 One such ancient Greek oracle was the Pythoness of Delphi, which Pynchon evokes a few pages later.48 Ancient oracles appear again as Mason and Dixon board the ship for the Cape of Good Hope. Their boat is the Seahorse, which has just fought valiantly against the French in Quebec, but the real history is also presented in light of the ancient world, as the Latin Motto of the Seahorse, Eques Sit Equus


refers to the ancient Roman Knights, and is translated as "Let the Sea-Knight who would command this Sea-Horse be ever fair-minded."49
     On the voyage to the Cape, the symbolic center of the world system of slavery, Mason and Dixon reflect on their role in the larger history of their times. The voyage "seems not to belong in either of their lives. Was there a mistake in the Plan of the Day? Did we get a piece of someone else's History?"50 Their befuddlement about their historical role increases when the ship's captain, as an enforcer of world peace after the English victory against the French, announces his distaste for books. "Print causes Civil Unrest,-- Civil Unrest on any Ship at Sea is intolerable."51 Faced with these warlike observations and a reckless game that the captain is playing with another British boat, Dixon offers one of his first Quaker reflections on the world system into which he and Mason are being thrust. "A Quaker might say, 'tis war thah's insane and Frigate captains only more open about it."'52 Pynchon, however, deliberately makes the reader guess at first at how seriously these Quaker reflections on the world system are meant to be taken.
     Even when our two travelers arrive at the Cape of Good Hope, Pynchon is at first ambiguous about whether Quaker interpretations of the world system are meant to be taken as psychological peccadilloes, or as reflections wrenched from the characters by the system itself, and thus as public spirited sentiments from our anti-founders and republican knights. Immediately the Dutch settlers see Dixon as a troublesome nuisance, just as the captain of the Seahorse saw print itself as a troublesome nuisance. "The English Quaker ... is rude, disobedient, halfway to a Hindoo ...."53 However, this psychological pigeonholing is put in its proper perspective when Mason and Dixon offer their first reflections on slavery. What is impressive in the opening remarks of these Quentin Durwards/Don Quixotes tilting against world slavery is how much they grasp the systemic nature of slavery and the way its collective and social aspect eludes individual will. Describing one of the settler's plans to breed new slaves by actively encouraging sexual encounters between blacks and whites, 


Pynchon observes "'tis the Slavery, not any form of Desire, that is of the essence. Dixon, out of these particular meshes, can see it."54
    Indifferent to Visibility, wrapt in the melancholy Winds that choir all night long, persists an Obsession or Siege by something much older than anyone here, an injustice that will not cancel out [...] [H]ere is a Collective Ghost of more than household Scale,--the Wrongs committed Daily against the Slaves [...] going unrecorded [...] the need to keep the Ghost propitiated [...] the [...] many-Volum'd Codes, brings all but the hardiest souls ... to consider the Primary Question ... Slaves here commit suicide at a frightening Rate,--but so do the Whites [....]"55
     When Dixon asks a few pages later how a "Geordie" boy and a baker's son got the position of surveying in the Cape of Good Hope, Pynchon has now laid the foundation for an answer.56 You are there, Mason and Dixon, because you are founding fathers in the ancient sense, except that you observe disunity rather than unity. Your maverick perspective allows you to express the subjective side of the world system of slavery. As Mason and Dixon describe a curious softening of the attitude and behavior toward slaves, that they are temporarily seeing in the Cape, Dixon offers the opinion that this softening is the result of fear. He explains the fear in terms of the Quaker idea of the removal of humans from the "spirit." "It abides,--'tis we who are ever recall'd from it [...] and so another Visit soon becomes necessary,--another great Turning [....]"57 But the softening is short lived. "Little by little, as weeks pass, the turn of Spirit Mason and Dixon imagine they have witness'd is reclaim'd by the Colony, and by whatever haunts it."58 Thus, the world system is not about to really change, and Charles and Jeremiah's trip to the Cape ends as the customs agent at the border gives them a message to the man at the desk in London, an obvious reference to the opening scenes of Joseph Conrad's anti-imperialist novella, Heart of Darkness, in which the people at the London desk of the African colonial company are depicted as being as much 


dissociated from the evils of colonialism as the Dutch in the Cape of Good Hope try to be during the time when there was a slight change of spirit.59
     So our travelers leave the Cape for another task, this time at St. Helena, although Dixon, at a certain point, returns to the Cape, and eventually both Mason and Dixon return to England before setting out for America to create the Mason-Dixon line, and in doing so to see if there are any changes of spirit in that part of the world system of British Colonialism that is Pennsylvania. These intermediate scenes are truly that, both thematically and artistically, and would not have fit into the more tightly organized republican novels that form the core of the historical novel tradition.
     Yet here the eighteenth-century road novel aspect of Mason & Dixon allows Pynchon the opportunity to place his republican knights in positions where they are constantly at odds with the system, and where they can tell the reader so in no uncertain terms. Just as Scott in Quentin Durward found hanging to be one of the best symbols of the France of Louis XI, and in The Heart of Mid-Lothian for English legal dominance over Scotland, so too in the St. Helena scenes Pynchon finds public hangings to be his perfect symbol for the world system of slavery.
    "Out upon Munden's Point stand a pair of Gallows, simplified to Penstrokes in the glare of the Ocean sky. A Visitor may lounge in the Evening upon the Platform behind the Lines, and, as a Visitor to London might gaze at St. Paul's, regard these more sinister forms in the failing North Light, perhaps being led to meditate upon Punishment,--or upon Commerce ... for Commerce without Slavery is unthinkable, whilst Slavery must ever include, as an essential Term, the Gallows,--Slavery without the Gallows being as hollow and Waste a Proceeding, as a Crusade without the Cross."60
     These remarks are meant to prepare Pynchon's more faint hearted readers for the horrific description of torture and punishment of slaves that we get with Dixon's return to the Cape.61 Here Pynchon steps forward himself, not trusting his republican knights to be as explicit about the world 


system of slavery as the Rev, narrating Mason and Dixon's story decades later can be:
Behind our public reactions to the Event, the outrage and Piety, what else may abide,--what untouchable Residue? Small numbers of people go on telling much larger numbers what to do with their precious Lives,--among these Multitudes, all but a few go on allowing them to do so. The British in India encourage the teeming populations they rule to teem as much as they like, whilst taking their land for themselves and then restricting the parts of it the People will be permitted to teem upon.62
     After the Cape and St. Helena, Mason and Dixon's brief stay back in England may seem like simply a necessary transition to their journey to America, and one that fills in private details of their lives, rather than presenting them as republican commentators on the world system. Nevertheless, Pynchon chooses the details of the scenes in England carefully to illuminate further Mason's and Dixon's maverick roots that allow them to be very special commentators on the American scene. We learn that Mason not only came from a town of weavers whose protests against work conditions had been quelled by General Wolfe before his victory at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec, but also that he sees his vocation as astronomer set by his life among the weavers. Indeed the looms of the weavers are depicted almost like the oracles that the ancient republican historians described as attending the youth of Theseus and Romulus.
The precise Geography of the Water-shed was now primary [...] 'twas like coming before the Final Judge and discovering that good and useful Lives, innocence of Wrong-doing, purity of Character, count for far less, than what He really wishes of us, something we have no more suspected than anyone in the Valley had every imagin'd that the Flow of Water through Nature, along a Gradient provided free by the same Deity, might be re-shap'd to drive a Row of Looms, each working thousands of Yarns in strictest right- angularity,--as far from Earthly forms as possible,--nor that ev'ry 

stage of the 'Morphosis, would have its equivalent in Pounds, Shillings, and Pence.63
     This makes clear that Mason had already experienced the world system of trade which included slavery and exploitation of Native Americans on its down side, even before he journeyed to the Cape, and long before he adds to that world system through creating the Mason-Dixon line. Indeed, a series of reflections in England point to the journey of our republican knights in America. When Mason tells his sons that he is going to America, they ask if he will have a rifle. When he responds that he will have a telescope one son replies, "Maybe they'll think it's a Rifle," an observation that causes Pynchon to reflect that "[T]he Pilgrim, however long or crooked his Road, may keep every before him the Holy Place he must by his Faith seek, as the American Ranger, however indeterminate or unposted his Wilderness, may enjoy, ever at his Back, the Impulse of Duty he must, by his Honor, attend."64
     In order to be pilgrims and republican knights in America, Mason and Dixon must be placed squarely as part of the people of the rural north of England, Mason among the weavers of Sapperton, and Dixon among the ancient ruins in his rural home town of Durham, site of enclosures and Jacobite revolutionizing.65 Both Mason and Dixon have seen enough of the world system before they even set out for America to know what to expect. "[B]oth Pennsylvania and Maryland are Charter'd Companies [...] Charter'd companies may indeed be the form the World has now increasingly begun to take."66 And so our two pilgrims and dissident republican knights start off for America.
     The core of Mason & Dixon is its long central section that describes the construction of the Mason-Dixon line, along with accompanying incidents, some clearly fantasies, some very realistic. The construction of the line does present a telos which is lacking in the non-American sections of the novel. The line is in many ways a telos toward darkness, even a Heart of Darkness. The true republican spiritedness of the novel emerges as the American section of the world system that Mason and Dixon help construct and find becomes the subject of their deepest reflections and emotions as they become modern Theseuses and Romuluses trying to see unity in


America as Theseus and Romulus did in ancient Athens and Rome, but primarily finding instead the chaotic unity of the world system of slavery and westward expansion revealed by the Mason-Dixon line itself.67 Because these feelings of disunity and integration into a chaotic world system deepen as the line goes further west, the intensity of the republican sentiments also grows as Pynchon increasingly depicts powerful and sublime symbolic landscapes that illuminate this Westward expansion. These landscapes call forth correspondingly powerful and sublime republican sentiments.
     When Mason and Dixon arrive in Philadelphia in November 1763 they are greeted by a woman who tells them, "[T]he Sign upon the Waggon says it all [...] 'Heaven or Bust."'68 Thus the way West is couched in apocalyptic terms from the start, leading the Rev to claim as narrator that "twas the Holy Ghost, conducting its own settlement of America."69 And the apocalyptic aspect of the way West is juxtaposed with that of the coming revolution. "'Tis ever the sign of Revolutionary times, that Street-Airs become Hymns," comments Ethelmer listening to the Rev tell the story.70
     If the line and the wagons west are first presented with religious eschatology, their place in the world system is made clearer by the two pilgrimages that our republican anti-founders of America make before they even start the line: to Washington in Virginia and to the site of the Paxton Boys' massacre. The Paxton Boys want westward expansion and so does Washington. Ergo, the Mason and Dixon line will serve the purposes of both. The fact that little differentiation is made between the motives of Washington and the motives of the Paxton Boys would of course disturb the author of The Unvanquished, where Washington is the central figure in establishing public spiritedness as his troops retreat from Manhattan in the Fall of 1776. Mason's and Dixon's republican critique of their line gets part of its sense from this yoking of Washington and the Paxton Boys, even though the moral point could have been made with much more nuance than Pynchon uses. The desire of Washington to expand west provides what Pynchon calls "[a] moral Geometry" for the line, like "inscriptions made 


upon the body of the Earth, primitive as Designs prick'd by an Iroquois."71 Thus, the moral geometry of the line will flow from the politics, not only of Washington and the Paxton Boys, but more directly from the proprietors of Pennsylvania.72
     It is true that there are counter-forces that also might help define the  "moral geometry" of the line. The Quakers of Philadelphia speak against slavery and their protest affects the politics of the line. But the words of the Quakers are counter-posed to Pynchon's evocation of the reality of Bouquet's march to aid the besieged Fort Pitt, a march which was almost stopped by the ambush at Bushy Run and by the continued effects of the Paxton Boys' raid.73 If the line is going to be defined in terms of moral geometry, it is doomed almost before it starts. When Mason and Dixon reach Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the scene of the second and most brutal Paxton Boys massacre, where the Conestoga Native Americans were beaten to death in a jail cell that they were in for their own safety, Mason & Dixon returns to some of the language found in the Cape of Good Hope scenes. At Lancaster Pynchon allows himself to reflect on the westward expansion of the world system. "Does Britannia, when she sleeps, dream? Is America her dream?"74 Of Dixon, Pynchon notes, "[n]othing he had brought to it of his nearest comparison, Raby [in northern England] with its thatch'd and benevolent romance of serfdom, had at all prepar'd him for the iron Criminality of the Cape,--the Publick Executions and Whippings [....] Yet is Dixon certain [...] that far worse happen'd here."75
     Is it only oppression that drives the line and forms its "moral geometry?" Are there no links at all between Mason & Dixon and optimistic and unitary republican novels of revolutionary America wherein the line might have appeared as a symbol of "the unvanquished" or of "proud destiny?" After the horrors of the visit to Lancaster, the Rev, in narrating Mason & Dixon, tells of how he was back in America once again, the "object of hope that Miracles might yet occur," and saw that "a spirit of rebellion was then flickering across the countryside."76 But the hope of this spirit of rebellion is for the most part deconstructed in Mason & Dixon and subordinated to the more negative aspects of the spirit of the line. There 


exists no America or no "'Pennsylvania,' but a chronicle of Frauds committed serially against the Indians."77 Mason and Dixon do meet a revolutionary who prints a pamphlet: "[A]ll about him the word reprinted in large Type LIBERTY."78 They also talk to avowed revolutionaries in New York and to supposedly revolutionary settlers in Pennsylvania. In Virginia they meet Washington and Jefferson, in Philadelphia Franklin, but none of these meetings seem optimistic for any spirit of LIBERTY which might trump the malign spirit behind the Mason- Dixon line itself.
     The further west they go the more obvious this becomes. Pynchon uses the words "Republican fogs" to describe the rhetoric of the New York revolutionaries, although he does allow them a few sound republican points in their discussion with Mason.79 Asserting that the revolutionary spirit is now linking the entire country, one New Yorker claims of the line that "[i]n a few Seasons hence all your Work must be left to grow over, never to be redrawn, for in the world that is to come all boundaries shall be eras'd."80 But the answer to this scepticism about the Mason-Dixon line and optimism about liberty is the further progress of the line as a battering ram into the West and as a sword between North and South. Mason and Dixon are asked "supposing Progress Westward were a Journey, returning unto Innocence."81 Pynchon takes this supposition seriously only to refute it with the powerful symbolic landscapes of westward expansion into Native American territory.
     In a symbolic debate over how far the line will go, a man named John Harland suggests that it will go as far as the proprietors want it to go, and Mason makes this more specific by suggesting that it is up to the Penns. Harland further suggests that the army will decide, but the Quaker conscience of Dixon as republican knight observer of the world system, replies that it will be up to "the Indians."82 Dixon's answer paves the way for the final symbolic landscapes of Mason & Dixon, where the Native Americans appear to play a greater role in deciding the actual end of the line than the world economic system might ordinarily grant such dissidents. As Mason and Dixon go further west in Pennsylvania the artistic and historical necessity of some symbolic encounter with Native Americans at 


the end of the line becomes clearer and clearer. As Mason and Dixon progress further in the western parts of Pennsylvania, as they reach the Susquhanna River and the Allegheny Mountains, they become increasingly aware of the "beauty," "peace," and "Eden" like atmosphere of the landscape.83 The landscape itself evokes Mason's and Dixon's dissident republican sentiments. "We shouldn't be runnin' this Line.... We're being us'd again."84 Now that this sentiment has been clearly expressed Pynchon can let the natural beauty of the land through which they are passing be expressed even more clearly: "this great Swell of Forested Mountains, this palace of ancient Revenge, and Beasts outside the Fire-light,-- the sun this particular evening as if in celestial Seal."85
     The evocation of the natural beauty of West Pennsylvania prepares the way for the stunning civic republican climax of Mason & Dixon. The background is the uneasy peace between Native Americans and the English that prevailed from 1764 until the advent of the Revolutionary War and beyond. In spite of their extreme misgivings about the politics of the line, as scientists Mason and Dixon want to extend it as far as they can. They are stopped ultimately by the fact that their line will cross an important Native American trail, known as the Warrior Path. Finally, the Indians of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Southeast Ohio Territory do not let Mason and Dixon survey beyond the Warrior Path, and the Indians are backed by the official English policy-of-the-day of trying to preserve England's uneasy settlement with the Delaware and the Shawnee, thus back up England's strong alliance with the Iroquois. The scenes where the line's inexorable battering force almost cuts the Warrior Path, but then is stopped, are some of the finest in the novel. With the Mason-Dixon line threatening the integrity of the Warrior Path and the very existence of the Native Americans who are being pushed further and further west, Pynchon has found his perfect symbol for Mason and Dixon as both founders and anti-founders of America. The surveying of America also leads to the destruction of the old America. "America, withal, for centuries had been kept hidden [....] The Secret was safe until the choice be made to reveal it. It has been denied to all who came to America, for Wealth, for Refuge, 


for Adventure [....] [T]his Age sees a corruption and disabling of the ancient Magick."86
     That Pynchon mythologizes his description of the Warrior Path and its relation to the line does not take away from the essential realism of this section of Mason & Dixon. Evoking "the Indian warrior paths to and from triumphs, captives, and death," Pynchon contrasts the path with the line, which is described in a mythical language of an alien presence in the land, which does not honor "the Dragon or Shan within, from which Land-Scape ever takes its form."87 The line is here described as against nature and against faith, and linked with the idea of a blade cutting into the body. It is associated with "geometry and slaughter."88
     In a dazzling fantasy that has its own realistic purpose, a captain Shelby informs Mason and Dixon of a great Serpent mound in the Ohio Territory, referring of course to the real serpent mound still to be seen in Ohio today. Noting that this serpent mound resembles one in England, he contends that "they might have been built by quite similar races of People," to which Dixon replies"
    "We're about as far from Philadelphia, here, as Durham from London  [..] much further, if you figure in the Trees and things, Precipices, Gorges,--and it seems quite like home, West being for Americans what North is for Geordies, an increasing Likelihood of local Power lying in the Hands of Eccentrics, more independence, more Scotismus, as thay'd say."89
     The West is not just a place, but a part of the human spirit which remains uncolonized by the world system as long as possible. The West furnishes the best of the American revolutionary spirit, and for a moment Pynchon's republicanism even touches hands with that of Fast's in The Unvanquished and Feuchtwanger in Proud Destiny: "Mountains such as these, which may be liv'd among the year 'round. Therein ever rocks the cradle of Rebellion."90 But if the West can furnish the spirit of republican rebellion against England, this rebellion is undercut by westward expansion of the rebels: "We trespass, each day ever more deeply, into a world less 


restraint in ev'rthing,-- no law, no convergence upon any idea of how life is to be."91 The sentence is deliberately ambiguous. Does the world without restraint refer to the settlers or the Indians? The settlers are often real outlaws whereas the Native Americans are to some extent outside the law. Settlers who cross the Allegheny Divide are outlaws by white law, but the Native Americans on that side are being made into outlaws.
     "On June 14 (1767), they stand atop the Allegheny Divide. From now on, any Settlers they find are here in violation of Penn's and Bouquet's Edicts. Here the Party will cross, not alone into Ohio, but into Outlawry as well."92 At this point official English policy stops them from going further. They contemplate how
anyplace beyond the Summit of the Alleghenies, wherever the water flows West, into the Continental Unknown, lies too far from the Countryside where, quietly, unthreaten'd, among the tall gray stalks of the girdl'd trees [...] the Waggon's rumbling upon the roads of pack'd and beaten Earth, the lowing, the barking, the solitary rifle-shot [....]93
     This evocation of the settling of the forbidden West anticipates the final Mason-Dixon line scenes of the novel. Mason and Dixon follow the illegal settlers into the West in spite of their bitter republican critique of that expansion. But, as is perhaps fitting, they are stopped, not by English law, but by the Warrior Path itself: a halt to their expansion of the world system, which they, as republican critics of the world system, would have to agree with.
     As they get closer and closer to the Ohio River, William Johnson dispatches some Iroquois to lead them beyond the legal limit for settlers, but the way is troubled by the recognition that they are crossing some important Native American paths.94 Nevertheless, our republican knights continue, perhaps against themselves. Their feelings of intrusion are obviously increased when they meet a settler who accuses them: "You think its over out here, Redcoat? It's not over. The Fall of Quebec was not the end, nor Bouquet's Success at Bushy Run [....] The last Dead in this 


not yet been born."95 But our eighteenth-century republican knights hear the last word on their transgression into Indian territory from the Native Americans themselves. As Mason and Dixon near the end they are accompanied not only by Iroquois but also by the enemies of the Iroquois, the Delaware. As they approach the Warrior Path, the Iroquois warn them of coming conflicts.96 Nevertheless, they continue moving closer to their goal of the Ohio River, at the same time recalling Braddock's fate as a possible end to their journey.97 They finally decide to stop their quest at the moment when a Delaware chief points a rifle at them. But Mason had told his son long before that rifles and telescopes are part and parcel of each other.98
     Mason and Dixon did not need the rifle to know they should stop. They had already told themselves to stop when, like the ancient republican founders of Rome, they consulted the Gods. "Yet the Stars, in their Power [...] that only the Mightiest God may command, deserve at least the one small, respectful Courtesy, of allowing their Line to cross, without a Mark, your Nation's own Great Path [....]"99 But our modern Theseus and Romulus must have known that the Gods would not respond to their request to expand the world system. The Warrior Path stopped the line and the republican Mason and Dixon clearly accept this omen.
     The republican sentiments of Mason & Dixon reach a crescendo with the mighty scenes that depict the landscape of the end of the line. Paradoxically, however, this also means that the pessimistic analysis of pre-revolutionary America also reaches its crescendo when the line is completed. Mason and Dixon are republican precisely because as critical and dissident knights in the American segment of the world system of exploitation of slaves and Native Americans, they speak out and warn against what they see.
     The final scenes of Mason & Dixon, after the line has been completed, are thus not as climactic, but perhaps they are more hopeful. Dixon does take the whip away from the slave driver in Maryland. Mason does settle in America, visited by a sympathetic Franklin. Perhaps in the end there is a slight move away from the totally dissident republicanism that informs most of the book to a more hopeful and unitary republicanism, similar to 


that which ends Scott's The Heart of Mid-Lothian. For Scott, England and Scotland could live under a unified constitution, if members of dissident groups could really be full citizens within it. The powerful images of the Mason-Dixon line engraving slavery and exploitation of Native Americans into the heart of America works against such hope throughout most of Mason & Dixon.
     Perhaps the ending passages of the novel reflect, if not full hope, at least an aspiration toward a unified public spirited citizenship that might exist some day. This hope for civic republican unity is perhaps behind much of dissident republican novels, as well as much republican legal and political theory itself. Perhaps republican legal and political ethics does not depend on unity, but on the willingness to name disunity and fragmentation, and to hope for unity. Still, if there is hope, it is not the major theme of Mason & Dixon, which pushes dissident public spiritedness about as far as it can go in a republican historical novel. Its greatest symbol remains the Mason-Dixon line itself, cutting into the heart of America and eliciting the public spirited reflections of its creators: pilgrims, dissident republican knights, and anti- founding fathers. Unitary republican legal theorists may see Mason & Dixon as expressing only a fragmentary multiculturalism that cuts at the heart of the hopes for a republican American constitutional order of the sort that Franklin, Washington and Jefferson wanted. But perhaps, somewhere in the world of postmodern legal and political fiction, a historical novel will arise that allows the founding fathers, Washington, Franklin and Jefferson, to converse on more equal terms with the anti-founding fathers, Mason and Dixon. Perhaps public spirited civic republican unity can only grow out of public spirited civic republican reflections on disunity.
     Indeed, the dissident republicanism of Mason & Dixon may present a new model for further reflections about the pre-history of America and the nature of the unity or disunity that came to exist once a constitutional order was created. Obviously, some of Mason & Dixon's disunifying claims are ridiculous-- for example the implicit yoking of Washington and the Paxton Boys. But then some of the unitary claims about Washington in Fast's The Unvanquished were ridiculous too. If a novel were to yoke the dissident republicanism of Mason & Dixon with the unitary republicanism of The Unvanquished or Proud Destiny, it may present, in artistic form, the bridge between disunity and unity that is being sought for in legal and political theory today.



*  Professor, Department of Philosophy, Kent State University.



3. See PATRICIA WILLIAMS, THE ALCHEMY OF RACE AND RIGHTS (1991), for an example of deconstructive legal theory.

4. GEORG LUKÁCS, THE HISTORICAL NOVEL 13 (1983); see PHILIP PETTIT, REPUBLICANISM (1997), for the republican revival.

5. See GEORG LUKÁCS, THE YOUNG HEGEL 146-67 (1975).

6. Charles Taylor, Hegel's Ambiguous Legacy for Modern Liberalism, in HEGEL AND LEGAL THEORY 65 (Drucilla Cornell et al. eds., 1991).

7. See id. at 65.


9. See WALTER SCOTT, ROB ROY (1995).


11. See LUKÁCS, supra note 4, at 19-88.


13. See SCOTT, supra note 9; WALTER SCOTT, WAVERLY (1985); WALTER SCOTT, REDGAUNTLET (1997).

14. SCOTT, WAVERLYsupra note 13; see THOMAS PYNCHON, MASON & DIXON 235- 37, 242, 243-44, 248, 282, 292, 311-12, 500-04, 570-72, 744-45 (1997).

15. SCOTT, supra note 9, at 334, 338, 362-63, 369, 386-87, 400-03.


17. See PYNCHON, supra note 14, at 760-61 (1997).

18. See id. at 407-08, 501-04.

19. Id. at 692 (Since Thomas Pynchon is known for his use of the ellipse, the ellipses inserted by the Author are in brackets [....).


21. See ALLEN W. ECKERT, THE CONQUERORS 519-525 (1970).

22. See id. at 665-672; ALLEN W. ECKERT, THAT DARK AND BLOODY RIVER xiv- xvii (1995).


24. See Kwame Anthony Appiah, Race, in CRITICALTERMS FOR LITERARY STUDY 274-87 (Frank Lentricchia & Thomas McLaughlin eds., 1995).

25. See LUKÁCS, supra note 4, at 64-65; JAMES FENIMORE COOPER, THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS 339-350 (1986).

26. See JAMES FENIMORE COOPER,, THE DEERSLAYER (1987); COOPER, supra note 25, at 349.

27. See LUKÁCS, supra note 4, at 183-92 (1983).

28. See SAMIR AMIN ET AL., TRANSFORMING THE REVOLUTION: SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND THE WORLD SYSTEM (1990), for an account of world systems theory particularly relevant for Mason & Dixon.

29. See PYNCHON, supra note 14, at 276-277, 281.

30. Id. at 277.

31. PYNCHON, supra note 14, at 282.

32. Id. at 572.

33. See id. at 394-95.

34. See id. at 698-99.

35. See ECKERT, supra note 21, at 552.

36. See id. at 597-99.

37. See Michael Berube, Our Children Deserve to Know, 265 THE NATION 25-30, (1997) (reviewing GARY B. NASH ET AL., HISTORY ON TRIAL: CULTURE WARS AND THE TEACHING OF THE PAST (1997).

38. See PYNCHON, supra note 14, at 304-06.



41. LUKÁCS, supra note 4.

42. Id. at 288-94; FEUCHTWANGER, supra note 40.


44. See id. at 5-6, 81, 92-93, 160.

45. See PLUTARCH, THE LIVES OF THE NOBLE GRECIAN AND ROMANS 24-48, 74- 92 (N.D., Modern Library); DIONYSIUS OF HALLICARNASSUS, ROMAN ANTIQUITIES BOOKS 1-11 3-39 (1990); MONTESQUIEU, supra note 8, at 10-128 (1989).

46. See PLUTARCH, supra note 45, at 3-73.

47. See PYNCHON, supra note 14, at 19.

48. See id. at 25.

49. Id. at 36.

50. Id. at 44.

51. Id. at 48.

52. Id. at 49.

53. Id. at 61.

54. Id. at 68.

55. Id. at 68-69.

56. See id. at 73.

57. Id. at 101.

58. Id.

59. See id. at 102; JOSEPH CONRAD, HEART OF DARKNESS 3-6 (1989).

60. PYNCHON, supra note 14, at 108; SCOTT, supra note 12, at 29; SCOTT, supra note 43, at 101.

61. PYNCHON, supra note 14, at 151-55.

62. Id. at 153.

63. Id. at 207; PLUTARCH, supra note 45, at 3-7, 24-28.

64. PYNCHON, supra note 14, at 212.

65. See id. at 219, 221, 225, 233, 241, 243, 244, 248.

66. Id. at 252.

67. See PLUTARCH, supra note 45, at 3-7, 24-28; DIONYSIUS, supra note 45, at 1-11, 3-48.

68. See PYNCHON, supra note 14, at 260.

69. Id. at 261.

70. Id. at 264.

71. Id. at 323-24.

72. See id. at 328.

73. See id. at 329-30.

74. Id. at 345.

75. Id. at 347.

76. Id. at 353.

77. Id. at 354.

78. Id. at 390.

79. Id. at 404.

80. Id. at 406.

81. Id. at 427.

82. Id. at 468.

83. Id. at 476.

84. Id. at 478.

85. Id. at 485.

86. Id. at 487 (emphasis in original).

87. Id. at 540-42.

88. Id. at 543, 545, 551.

89. Id. at 595-96.

90. Id. at 601.

91. Id. at 608.

92. Id. at 616.

93. Id. at 635.

94. See id. at 646.

95. Id. at 661.

96. See id. at 678-79.

97. See id. at 680.

98. See id.

99. Id. at 675.