A Frolic of His Own

pp. 51--100
Annotations by Steven Moore except as [noted].

Page references are to the current Scribner softcover edition. References in parentheses are to first US edition (Poseidon) and to U.K. editions.

A Frolic of His Own
index
annotations for
softcover (hardcover & UK)
 pages
         1-50 (1-54) §
51-100 (56-112) §
101--150 (119--164) §
151-200 (174-224) §
201-250 (228-281) §
251-300 (285-341) §
301-350 (344-394) §
  351--400 (402-449) §
401--450 (465-516) §
  451--end (517-end) §

52.26 (56.30) like Dante and...: and Vergil, who escorts Dante through the underworld. 

52.29 (56.33) If the World Turns: cf. As the World Turns, a TV serial broadcast from 1956 until 2010. 

53.11 (57.20) get a slouch hat and take his play on the road: like Wotan in Wagner’s Ring, who wanders the world in a slouch hat hiding his missing eye. 

56.4 (60.30) Lepidus: surname of a famous patrician Roman family of the first and second century B.C. 

57.18 (62.9) The sparsely furnished room [...] a more desolate presence than: this and succeeding passages from Oscar’s play are from Gaddis’s own play Once at Antietam, written in the late 1950s and which he tried unsuccessfully to have produced at that time. A convenient summary of the play is provided in Judge Bone’s opinion (400-402). The two main characters, Thomas and William, take their names from their author, William Thomas Gaddis. 

Abbreviated References
A. Gaddis’ Books

CG: Carpenter’s Gothic. 1985. New York: Penguin, 1999.
FHO: A Frolic of His Own.
New York: Poseidon, 1994.
JR: J R.
1975. New York: Penguin, 1993.
R: The Recognitions.
1955. New York: Penguin, 1993.
B. Gaddis’s Sources
Catton: Bruce Catton, The Army of the Potomac: Mr Lincoln's Army. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1962.
EB: Encyclopædia Britannica. 14th ed., 1929.
ODQ: The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations,
1st ed., 6th impression, (London: Oxford University Press, 1949). Gaddis owned this particular impression, given to him by Ormande de Kay in Paris in 1950.
Plato: The Dialogues of Plato. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. New York: Random House, 1937. 2 vols.
Prosser: William L. Prosser, Handbook of the Law of Torts, 4th edition (St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1971).

63.2 (68.29) deed to oblivion:  "Every creation is foredoomed to decay, every thought, every discovery, every deed to oblivion." Oswald Spengler, Man and Technics: A Contribution to a Philosophy of Life [1930], trans, by Charles Francis Atkinson, (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1963), p. 14. [JS]

64.34 (71.5) Rousseau, believing ‘the natural goodness of man...’: see 20.34. The natural goodness of man is the thesis of Rousseau’s essay “Discourse on the Origins and Foundations of Inequality of Men” (1755); see especially his long footnote #9 to part 1. [MR]

68.17 (75.5) The Sage of Sag Harbor [...] There is never a treasure  without a following shade of care: Gaddis's nickname for his longtime friend John Sherry (1923-99), a novelist, poet, and playwright. (Source of quotation unknown.)  After WG died Sherry wrote "In Recognition: Remembering William Gaddis," Hamptons Country , June 1999, 76-80, online here: http://www.nyx.net/~awestrop/gaddis/sherry.htm

69.24 (76.17) To lay up treasures in heaven: from Matt. 6:19-21; cf. 431.19-22, 432.24, 583.15. 

70.14 (77.15) burst up off the ground […] amongst the stones: this passage first occurred in J R as part of Eigen’s play (262-63). 

72.4 (79.13) ‘noble savage’: another phrase from Rousseau. 

73.21 (81.3) ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God’: Matt. 4:7 (quoting Deut. 6:16). 

74.16 (82.4) shaft of sunlight: perhaps from the line "Sudden in a shaft of sunlight" from Eliot's "Burnt Norton" (part 5). [JS]

75.26 (83.17) Mister Basie: apparently after Count Basie (1904-84), black American bandleader and composer: see 378.1-3. 

76.30 (84.27) The Antiquities of Athens:  The Antiquities of Athens Measured and Delineated by James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, published in three volumes in 1762, 1787, and 1794. Considered one of the most important architectural travel books of the 18th century, the Antiquities was the first accurate survey of the surviving classical buildings of Athens and exerted considerable influence over the establishment of a Greek revivalist style in 18th-century English architecture.  [MR]

78.4 (86.10) Worth Avenue: Palm Beach, FL, one of the world's most exclusive shopping districts

79.35 (88.13) Yeats [...] Are blowing through my blood: the first four lines of Yeats’s “Maid Quiet” (from The Wind among the Reeds, 1899). 

80.33 (89.20) the Emperor: that is, Emperor Napoleon III (Louis Napoleon) of France. 

81.16 (90.5) Fleury [...] Persigny: Comte Émile Félix Fleury (1815-84), who served Napoleon III in various capacities, and the Duc de Persigny (1808-72), ardent Bonapartist and Napoleon III’s minister of the interior. Both are mentioned in EB’s article on French history, apparently Gaddis’s source: “Finally he [Louis Napoleon] substituted for his Orleanist ministers unknown men who were devoted to him personally: Morny, Persigny, Fleury” (9:648). 

81.27 (90.16) the Second Republic: 1848-52, of which Louis Napoleon was president. It was followed by the Second Empire, over which he ruled as Napoleon III until 1870. 

81.28 (90.17) Rousseau. ‘The supreme guidance of the will of the people,’ and the reign of universal reason:  from book 1, part 6 of The Social Contract.  [edition of Rousseau Gaddis used?]  [MR]

81.33 (90.22) ‘Get rich quick!’: EB notes that during the 1840s the avaricious  middle class prospered: “Their rallying cry, borrowed from [cabinet minister] Guizot, was ‘get rich quick’” (9:647). 

82.3 (90.25) ‘Its power [...] ‘compelling men to be free [...] the Social Contract: conclusion of book 1, chap. 7. 

84.28 (93.29) shot down when the light’s bad: General Jackson was indeed killed in this manner in 1863, shot “accidentally” by his own troops at dusk when the light was bad. See 508-9. 

85.12 (94.18) Laughton [...] the halfback of Notre Dame: Charles Laughton starred in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939). 

85.34 (95.2) that fellow who left his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company: in his Shakespeare: For All Time (London: Macmillan, 2002), Stanley Wells writes: "Polish pianist and composer André Tchaikovsky . . . , on his premature death in 1982, bequeathed his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in Hamlet. Wrapped in a brown-paper parcel it arrived on the general manager's desk one morning along with the rest of the post" (398).[AZ]

86.37 (96.14) Eugene O’Neill [...] the Emperor Jones: American playwright (1888-1953). The Emperor Jones (1920) is about a black ex-convict who becomes "emperor” of a West Indian island. 

87.4 (96.23) Civil War play [...] schoolboy parody of Euripides: Oscar is referring to Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra (1931). However, he is mistaken about its source: it is based on Aeschylus's Oresteia Trilogy (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides). See 209-12.  [CL]

87.19{96.39): All Broadway wants is tits and ass, a chorus line:A Chorus Line was a hit Broadway musical of the 1970s and featured a number entitled "Tits and Ass." [MR]

87.28 (97.10) burntout star [...] revival of an old chestnut like your O’Neill: probably a reference to Jason Robards, who starred in a 1988 production of O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night.

87.38 (97.21) ‘A gross, coarse form of art,’ Pound [...] fools huddled together...’: in a New York Times entitled “The Odd Couple—Pound and Yeats Together” (10 January 1988), James Longenbach writes: “Both poets were dissatisfied with the commercial theater of their time. When Joyce wrote his play ‘Exiles’ in 1915, Pound told him that the stage ‘is a gross, coarse form of art,’ speaking ‘to a thousand fools huddled together.’” [Greg Werge/SM]

87.43 (97.27) Yeats  [...] the expenses of production’: also from Longenbach’s article: “By eschewing conventional stagecraft and relying on dancers and masks, Pound and Yeats wanted to forge a theater as aristocratic as the Noh. As Pound explained to his father, their plays ‘won’t need a thousand people for 150 nights to pay the expenses of production.’”

88.17 (98.5) a baseball player with AIDS: basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson gained considerable attention when he announced in 1991 that he had contracted AIDS. 

88.17 (98.5) a dog that lived in the White House: in 1990 President Bush’s wife Barbara published a book purporting to be written from their family dog’s point of view, Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush (NY: Morrow, 1990).

88.32 (98.21) Hector’s body [...] up against Achilles:
from Homer’s Iliad, book 22. 

89.9 (99.4) Davis Polk or Cravath: law firms of the time; the latter’s full name was Cravath, Swaine & Moore. 

89.28 (99.22) Jews in Hollywood [...] Leslie Howard: Jewish producers were responsible for Gone with the Wind (1939), featuring black actresses Butterfly McQueen and Hattie McDaniel, and starring Leslie Howard. 

90.25 (100.25) ‘The punishment [...] compelling them to be free...’: from Rousseau’s Social Contract, book 1, chap. 7 (cf. 90.25).   

91.6 (101.9)] Epictetus: an emancipated slave and Greek Stoic philosopher of the first century A.D. 

91.13 (101.16)] Aristotle [...] what he had to say about natural slaves: in his Politics (1.3-7) Aristotle states “the slave is a piece of property which is animate” and suggests “slavery is natural. In every department of the natural universe, we find the relation of ruler and subject. These are human beings who, without possessing reason, understand it. These are natural slaves.” He concludes with: “Slavery is condemned by some, but they are wrong. The natural slave benefits by subjection to his master.” [MR]

91.19 (101.23)] ‘The day a man’s enslaved, Zeus robs him of half his virtue’:   from Homer’s Odyssey (17.320, in T. E. Lawrence’s translation). [MR]

92.3 (102.9)] ‘arms-bearing aristocracy . . .’:  Aristotle believed citizens should bear arms in case a tyrant attempts to deprive them of their rights.

95.24 (106.12)] the willing suspension of disbelief: Coleridge’s famous statement about the necessary pact between reader and author, from his Biographia Literaria: “That willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith” (ODQ). Repeated at 474.22. 

95.30 (106.18)] la carrière ouverte aux talents as Napoleon had it: “The career open to talents” (ODQ). 

96.3 (106.34)] the Greek philosopher that said ‘The man without fear cannot be a slave’: in chap. 5 of Euripides and His Age (1913), Gilbert Murray writes: “Slavery had always been one of the subjects that haunted Euripides. We do not happen to find in our remains of his work any definite pronouncement that slavery is ‘contrary to nature,’ as was held by most Greek philosophers of the succeeding century. Probably no practical man of the time could imagine a large industrial city living without the institution of slavery. But it is clear that Euripides hates it. It corrupts a man; it makes the slave cowardly and untrustworthy. Yet ‘many slaves are better men than their masters’; ‘many so-called free men are slaves at heart.’ And again, in the style of a Stoic, ‘A man without fear cannot be a slave’ (fr. 958: cf. fr. 86, 511, etc.).” [Greg Werge]

95.23 (107.19)] George Fitzhugh [...] Cannibals All!: Cannibals All! or Slaves without Masters in an 1857 book defending slavery; it was reprinted in 1960 by Harvard University Press with an introduction by C. Vann Woodward. 

98.27 (109.37)] William James said that Holmes would vote for anybody who’d fought in that awful war:   

99.34 (111.15)] it was right for the just man to injure bad men and enemies [...] that’s the work of the unjust man:
as Oscar notes below, from book 1 of Plato’s Republic (135b-d); Kane speaks Socrates’ lines, William Polemarchus’s. (As noted later, Gaddis uses Benjamin Jowett’s translation.)   

100.32 (112.20) Chopin for I’m, always chasing: The popular song "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" was taken from the theme of the second movement of Chopin's Fantasie Impromtu in C# minor, written in 1918 by Joseph McCarthy, lyrics, and Harry Carroll, music adapted from the Chopin melody, for the Broadway musical "Oh, Look." Sung originally by Harry Fox and the Dolly Sisters, it was revived for an MGM musical in the '40s, and became a hit again. Perry Como and Helen Forrest both recorded it.  

The Fantasie Impromptu, written much earlier in 1834, was published posthumously, against Chopin's wishes, as he considered it an inferior work. Rather than being a mere dedication to the Baroness d'Este, it was a paid commission, which resulted in the autograph manuscript being kept from the general public for over a hundred years. The version that for so long was the only one available to pianists was put together by Julian Fontana from some early sketches he discovered after Chopin's death. The autograph version, which differs from Fontana's in numerous pianistic and harmonic refinements, came into the possession of Arthur Rubinstein in the 1960s, and he subsequently released it for publication. It is ironic that this delightful work with its intricate polyrhythms was so disliked by Chopin (some say because he felt it bore too close a resemblance to an Impromptu of Ignaz Moscheles) and yet has achieved crossover status and a dubious immortality with its central melody turned into the popular song "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows." [AW, CL]
A Frolic of His Own
index
annotations for
softcover (hardcover & UK)
 pages
         1-50 (1-54) §
51-100 (56-112) §
101--150 (119--164) §
151-200 (174-224) §
201-250 (228-281) §
251-300 (285-341) §
301-350 (344-394) §
  351--400 (402-449) §
401--450 (465-516) §
  451--end (517-end) §
A Frolic of His Own
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