In the author's Introduction to Slow Learner, Pynchon notes:
T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land has many connections to The Crying of Lot 49. First, there is Pynchon v. Stearns. See Popular Law Library and go to page 95. This is a law concerning the Waste Doctrine in America. The Wikipedia article defines the legal concept of waste as:
- . . . . a term used in the law of real property to describe a cause of action that can be brought in court to address a change in condition of real property brought about by a current tenant that damages or destroys the value of that property. A lawsuit for waste can be brought against a life tenant or lessee of a leasehold estate, either by a current landlord or by the owner of a vested future interest. Please note, however, that the holder of an executory interest has no standing to enforce an action for waste, since his future interest is not vested. . . .
These laws concerning property rights and inheritance fold into the family history of the Pynchons. T . S. Eliot's Mother, Charlotte Champe Stearns Eliot, was born Charlotte Champe Stearns. Interestingly, she wrote two longish poems concerning Giordano Bruno, see page 564 of Giordano Bruno in Prison. Giordano Bruno was involved in the same hermetic circles as John Dee, and was also a scientist. According to the Wikipedia entry for Giordano Bruno:
- . . .In April 1583, he went to England with letters of recommendation from Henry III, working for the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau. There he became acquainted with the poet Philip Sidney and with the Hermetic circle around John Dee. . .
- . . .His trial was overseen by the inquisitor Cardinal Bellarmine, who demanded a full recantation, which Bruno eventually refused. Instead he appealed in vain to Pope Clement VIII, hoping to save his life through a partial recantation. The Pope expressed himself in favor of a guilty verdict. Consequently, Bruno was declared a heretic, handed over to secular authorities on February 8 1600. At his trial he listened to the verdict on his knees, then stood up and said: "Perhaps you, my judges, pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it." A month or so later he was brought to the Campo de' Fiori, a central Roman market square, his tongue in a gag, tied to a pole naked and burned at the stake, on February 17, 1600.
Note the echos of The Courier's Tragedy here.
Charlotte Eliot's ancestor Issac Stearns, founder of the Stearns clan in America, arrived in Massachusetts Bay Colony via the Winthrop Fleet of 1630, the same year as William Pynchon. The legal decision "Pynchon v. Stearns" involved the offspring of these founding fathers a few generations down the line.