Scenes 11 - 20 | pages 59 - 149

Annotations by Steven Moore except as [noted].

< scenes 1--10 | pp. 3 - 59   $   scenes 21--30 | pp. 149 - 194 >

annotations with scene outline
scenes 1 - 10 | pp. 3 - 59    
 scenes 11 - 20 | pp. 59 - 149   
scenes 21 - 30 | pp. 149 - 194
scenes 31--40 | pp. 194 - 251
scenes 41--50 | pp. 251--352
scenes 51 - 60 | pp. 352 - 449
scenes 61 - 70 | pp. 449 - 580
scenes 71 - 83 | pp. 580 - 726
scene outline only

Scene 11 (59.44-68.20)
Bast home

Anne and Julia talk with their niece Stella Angel about Reuben and other family members; Bast enters (67). 

61.15] Norman: Norman Angel apparently takes his name from British economist and author Sir Norman Angell (1872-1967), inventor of “The Money Game.”

63.22] Saint-Saëns: Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), French composer and organist.

63.28] Paderewski [...] Steinway: Ignace Paderewski (1860-1941), Polish pianist and (later) statesman, came to the U.S. in 1891 at the request of Steinway and Sons.

63.30] Herbert Hoover was mixed up in that: in 1896 the future 31st president (1874-1964) hatched a scheme to raise money for college by sponsoring a Paderewski concert in San Jose, California, during the pianist’s third tour of the U.S. Gaddis’s probable source is Charlotte Hoffman Kellog’s Paderewski (New York: Viking, 1956), 80-81. (Paderewski’s involvement with Steinway and Sons is recounted on pp. 61-62).

63.33] Scriabin and Madame Blavatsky: Russian mystic composer (1872-1915) and the Russian-born occultist (1831-91); Scriabin began studying Blavatsky’s theosophy in 1905 and wrote his symphonic tone poem Le poème de l’extase under its influence.

65.41] Kreisler: Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962), Austrian-born American violinist.

65.42] Siegfried Wagner: (1869-1930), composer and (from 1896) director of the Bayreuth Festiva; son of Richard Wagner.

66.1] Teresa what was her name [...] known as the Valkyrie of the keyboard: Teresa Carreño (1853-1917), Venezuelan pianist and composer; recorded rolls for the player piano. Her second husband, composer and pianist Eugen d’Albert (1864-1932), though born and raised in England, always considered himself a German. 

Scene 12 (68.21-73.9)
Bast’s studio

Bast plays on the piano a piece he has written for Stella, confesses his love; Stella’s cab arrives.

69.10] strings foreboding in a minor key: identified on the next page as Mozart’s d-minor piano concerto (see 43.28).

69.25] All the spirit deeply dawning in: this and the rest of the poetry in this scene are from Tennyson’s “Locksley Hall” (1842), specifically ll. 23-30:

And I said, “My cousin Amy, speak, and speak the truth to me,
Trust me, cousin, all the current of my being sets to thee."

On her pallid cheek and forehead came a color and a light,
As I have seen the rosy red flushing in the northern night.

And she turn’d—her bosom shaken with a sudden storm of sighs—
All the spirit deeply dawning in the dark of hazel eyes—

Saying, “I have hid my feelings, fearing they should do me wrong,”
Saying, “Dost thou love me, cousin?” weeping, “I have loved thee long.”

70.26] Beethoven [...] Egmont: in 1810 Beethoven wrote for Goethe’s drama Egmont incidental music consisting of an overture and eight other selections.

transition (73.9-.13)
Cab ride to train station.

Scene 13 (73.13-74.21)
Massapequa train station

Stella runs into Gibbs, also waiting for the train. 

Passing of night to “another blue day.”

75.1] another blue day: from Thomas Carlyle’s poem “Today”: “Here hath been dawning another blue day. / Think! Wilt thou let it slip useless away” (ODQ; quoted by Wyatt in The Recognitions [238.27-28]). 

Scene 14 (75.7-89.19)
Massapequa to Manhattan

Amy takes pupils on field trip to New York; Bast, also going in to town, reluctantly assists; J R and the Hyde boy compare portfolios on train ride; children visit Wall Street, where they are met by Dave Davidoff, and taken to Crawley & Bro., where they purchase one share of Diamond Cable.

75.7] Erinyes: in Greek mythology, avengers of wrong, counterparts to the Roman Furies. They took the form of hideous women. 

81.38] Mister Davidoff: perhaps takes his name from Sidney Davidoff, top aide to New York’s mayor John Lindsay in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Davidoff made President Nixon’s 1971 list of twenty political enemies and was there described as “a first class SOB, wheeler-dealer, and suspected bagman.”

82.23-24] the pits in this wall … left by a bomb: the bombing of the Morgan Bank in lower Manhattan on September 16, 1920


82.24] J P Morgan: American banker and financier (1837-1913); [explain anecdote]

85.27] time is money: from Benjamin Franklin’s “Advice to a Young Tradesman” (1748)(ODQ). Repeated by Gibbs at 115.37.

Scene 15 (89.20-110.38)
Typhon International (midtown)

While students view a film, Amy confers with her great uncle Governor John Cates and her father, Monty Moncrieff.

89.24] Typhon: a monster in Greek mythology with a hundred heads, each with a terrible voice; based on the Egyptian god Set.

89.35] Dardanella: a syncopated foxtrot written by Fred Fisher (words) and Felix Bernard and Johnny S. Black (music). An early (1919) example of “boogie-woogie,” it was enormously popular in its day and was used in several movies thereafter.

90.4] Mister Eigen: cf. eigen, Ger. self, characteristic. This character was originally conceived by Gaddis as a self-portrait, but later took on additional, fictitious characteristics.

91.43] the lesson of the master: title of a short story by Henry James.

97.29] Pythian’s: after Pythia, priestess of Apollo at Delphi.

98.1] don’t own them you can’t trust them: cf. 183.4.  

98.5] mein Onkel soll meine Wäsche waschen . . . ?:  My uncle is to do (wash) my clothes. [trans. John Soutter].

100.13] Patman hearing: in 1961, Representative Wright Patman (1893-1976) chaired a Select Small Business Committee probe of tax-exempt foundations, concluding that they were tax-avoidance havens and unfair competition to small business. See the 1965 report “Patman and Select Small Business Subcommittee on Foundations: Their Impact on Small Business.” {Richard Scaramelli}

Scene 16 (110.39-121.38)
Automat (a block from Typhon)

Children have lunch; Amy converses with Bast, then Gibbs; feeling unwell, she leaves the children in Bast’s care.

110.39] Country Gardens: a composition by Australian-born composer Percy Grainger (1882-1961), a hit for pianist-singer Hazel Scott in the 1940s.

112.44] Chopin [...] Ballade in [...] G-minor: opus 23, a popular work dating from 1836.

115.11] Mister Marks?: a call for Karl Marx?—so suggests Mark Madigan in “Marx, Entropy, and Empedocles in William Gaddis’s J R” (unpublished paper).

116.9] Those who can do, those who can’t, teach: the well-known dictum is from Bernard Shaw’s “Maxims for Revolutionaries” (in Man and Superman)(ODQ).

116.12] Blessed is he who has found his work, let him ask no other: “. . . no other blessedness”—from Carlyle’s Past and Present (3.11)(ODQ).

116.21] Bizet [...] condemned for being like Wagner: Kobbé notes that the first Parisian reviewers of Bizet’s Carmen (1875) found it “too Wagnerian” (601) and also notes—as does Gibbs on the next page—that the opera was produced three months before Bizet’s death. The opera was considered a failure at first, not, as Amy says, “a great success.”

116.27] Wagner [...] the conditions he needed in order to work: these details are from Ernest Newman’s Wagner as Man and Artist (1914; 2nd rev. ed, 1924), chap. 14: “Contrarieties of Character: Love of Luxury.” This book, Gaddis’s principal source for the Wagneriana in J R, is an attempt to descredit the reliability of Wagner’s own Mein Leben and to pop many of the bubbles then cherished by Wagnerites. Although it pans Wagner the man, it praises Wagner the artist.

116.32] the garden path [...] led the God damned outside world in: quoting an earlier biographer, Newman writes: “he could not endure even books in the room he was working in, or bear to let his eyes follow the garden paths; ‘they suggested the outer world too definitely and prevented concentration’” (New York: Vintage, 1974, 159).

117.2] genius does what it must talent does what it can: from Bulwer-Lytton’s poem “Last Words of a Sensitive Second-Rate Poet” (ODQ).

117.6] Ulysses [...] a real sneak [...] Philoctetes: as is Ulysses in Sophocles’ drama; see 12.30.

117.19] Spread the checked cloth [...] if the lady and gentleman: see 120.32 below.

120.32] best authority there is says just get those breasts [...] fragments of the afternoon: these lines and those on 117 are from T. S. Eliot’s prose poem “Hysteria.”

121.9] Beware women who blow on knots: see 486.23.

Scene 17 (121.38-129.42)
Midtown Manhattan to Massapequa

Bast takes children to a Western movie, then back by train to Massapequa. 

Scene 18 (129.43-137.8)

Bast runs into Gibbs at train station, who gives him a key to the 96th Street apartment he shares with Eigen; J R walks Bast home to try and enlist his assistance.

130.34] loyal friend but a cunning and dangerous enemy: source unknown.

130.42] lost in the dark caverns of her throat [...] bruised by the ripple of unseen muscles: also from Eliot’s “Hysteria.”

131.3] take defeat from any brazen throat: over pp. 131-32 (and throughout the rest of the novel) Gibbs quotes snatches from Yeats’s poem “To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing” (from Responsibilities, 1914).

Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honour bred, with one
Who were it proved he lies,
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbours' eyes?
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.

131.38] how hard a path the going down and going up another’s stair: from Dante’s Paradiso (17:58), as quoted in the ODQ.

132.9] Joan of Arc voices she heard [...] If not you, when!: cf. the famous question by Rabbi Hillel in Sayings of the Fathers: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for myself alone, what am I? If not now, when?” This was "one of Joan of Arc's voices [...] when she was floundering around among decisions and actions," Gaddis wrote to his daughter Sarah (18 January 1972).

Scene 19 (137.8-143.16)
Bast’s studio

Bast discovers kids have broken into his studio; Stella there too, who attempts to seduce him, but her husband Norman Angel arrives with police; they leave Bast distracted.

137.40] Piston’s Harmony: Walter Piston’s Harmony (3rd ed., 1962) is a standard music textbook.

142.16] sailors’ chorus from Dido and Aeneas . . . you’ll never, no never, have to clean your: Purcell’s 1689 opera (libretto by Nahum Tate) features a sailors’ chorus at the opening of act 3, concluding: “No never intending to visit them more.” [AZ]

142.20] Rift the hills and roll the waters! [...] Rain or hail! or fire: more scattered lines from Tennyson’s “Locksley Hall.”

Scene 20 (143.17-149.14)
Massapequa to Manhattan

Stella and Norman drive home; discuss estate problems; go to sleep in separate beds. Norman leaves next day for plant.

143.33] Phil the Fluter’s Ball: popular song by Percy French (1854-1920), Irish songwriter and parodist.

145.31] Delius: Frederick Delius (1862-1934), English composer.

146.1] Wagner Man and Artist: Newman’s book: see 116.27.

Abbreviated Bibliography
A.  Gaddis' Books
CG: Carpenter’s Gothic.
1985. New York: Penguin, 1999.
FHO: A Frolic of His Own.
New York: Poseidon, 1994.
1975. New York: Penguin, 1993.
R: The Recognitions.
1955. New York: Penguin, 1993.

B.  Gaddis’s Sources
EB: Encyclopædia Britannica.
14th  ed., 1929.
ODQ: The Oxford Dictionary of 
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.

C.  Gaddis Criticism
Knight, Christopher, Hints and Guesses:  William Gaddis and the Fiction of Longing, Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1997.
Wolfe, Peter, A Vision of His Own: The Mind and Art of William Gaddis, Madison & Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press, 1997.  

annotations with scene outline
scenes 1 - 10 | pp. 3 - 59    
 scenes 11 - 20 | pp. 59 - 149   
scenes 21 - 30 | pp. 149 - 194
scenes 31--40 | pp. 194 - 251
scenes 41--50 | pp. 251--352
scenes 51 - 60 | pp. 352 - 449
scenes 61 - 70 | pp. 449 - 580
scenes 71 - 83 | pp. 580 - 726
scene outline only