Preface

Abbreviated Sources
and References


Annotations: title,
epigraph and
dedication


Part I

Part II
II.1 Synopsis
pp. 281-306
pp. 311-342
II.2 Synopsis
pp. 343-373
pp. 374-381
pp. 382-385
pp. 386-389
II.3 Synopsis
pp. 390-392
pp. 393-403
pp. 404-420
pp. 421-442
II.4 Synopsis
pp. 446-468
pp. 470-486
II.5 Synopsis
pp. 487-495
pp. 496-511
pp. 512-540
II.6 Synopsis
pp. 542-564
II.7 Synopsis
pp. 568-605
pp. 606-645
II.8 Synopsis
pp. 647-678
pp. 679-699
II.9 Synopsis
pp. 700-719


Part III

A Reader's Guide to William Gaddis's The Recognitions

      Index    

II.3 pp. pages 393-403

393.1] Aristobulus [...] plagiarized from Moses: describing the efforts made by some Hellenized Jews of Alexandria to gloss over "not a few of the worst anthropomorphic traits of Jahveh," Conybeare gives this instance (MMM 331):

As early as 150 B.C. an Alexandrine Jew, named Aristobulus, issued for Gentile reading a commentary on the Pentateuch, in which he at once sought to prove that the Greek philosophers, Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato, even Homer and Hesiod, had plagiarised the best of their wisdom from Moses, and also explained away such passages as attributed to the Jewish God hands and arms, face and feet, and represented him as coming down and walking about in the Garden of Eden.

393.3] Pues díme Sigismundo, dí: [...] haber nacido: from Calderón's play La Vida es sueño (see 820.37): "So tell me, Sigismundo, speak: Man's greatest sin is to have been born."

393.5] No, no [...] 1870! Nono the winner: infallible [...] Arkansas, crying Non Placet: at the Vatican Council of 1869-70 the dogma of papal infallibility was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX (Pio Nono in Italian). At the final ballot, two votes had remained non placet ("it displeases" - a nay vote): those of an Italian bishop from Naples and Bishop Edward Fitzgerald of Little Rock, Arkansas. Both bishops submitted immediately after the definition passed. The events were summed up in an anonymous ditty, which Wyatt is quoting:

1870! Nono the winner,
Infallible (what is that racket?),
The College of Cardinals turns to look,
It's Arkansas, crying Non placet.

[MR]

The pun "No, no" recalls that in Samuel Butler's The Way of All Flesh (a novel Gaddis has said he admires):

The Pope's action in the matter of the Sicilian revolution naturally led the Doctor to the reforms which his Holiness had introduced into his dominions, and he laughed consumedly over the joke which had not long since appeared in Punch, to the effect that Pio "No, No," should rather have been named Pio "Yes, Yes," because, as the Doctor explained, he granted everything his subjects asked for. Anything like a pun went straight to Dr. Skinner's heart.

(Chap. 28; see 393.38 below for another reference to the same page of Butler's novel.)

393.11] disdain simple ruses: from Esme's letter (see bottom of p. 471): "Since paintings are in the service of my desires, I can disdain no ruse to accomplish them."

393.12] Give me force and matter, and I will refurbish the world! Blame Descartes, then!: Saltus praises Descartes as one of "a handful of thinkers" free of the "mental stagnation" of the seventeenth century: "'Give me force and matter,' he cried, 'and I will refurbish the world.' Force and matter were not forthcoming, but in that magnificent boast was the accouchement of modern thought" (AN 108).

393.25] Æsculapius [...] lightningstruck: see 46.24-26.

393.28] Senta retires with Sabine smile of satiety, Thankyou ma'am: the heroine of Wagner's Flying Dutchman (see 551.3 ff.); the women of the Sabine tribe were abducted by Romans needing wives; "Thankyou ma'am" is from the coarse description of casual sex: "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am."

393.29] E ucciso [...] Son la Diva!: from Tosca, act 2; after stabbing Scarpia (see 92.23), Tosca gloats:

Ti soffoca il sangue?
E ucciso da una donna!
M'hai assai torturata?
Odi tu ancora? Parla!
Guardarmi! Son Tosca! O Scarpia!

SCARPIA (fa un ultimo sforzo, poi cade riverso)
Soccorso! Aiuto!

TOSCA (chinandosi verso Scarpia)
Ti soffoca il sangue?
Muori dannato! Muori! Muori! Muori!

Is your blood choking you?
And killed by a woman?
Did you torment me enough?
Can you still hear me? Speak!
Look at me! I am Tosca! Oh Scarpia!

(after a last effort, he falls back)
Help! Help!

(bending over Scarpia)
Is your blood choking you?
Die accursed! Die! Die! Die!

La Diva ("The Goddess") is a name Scarpia applies to her in act 2.

393.31] Saint Bernard about women [...] the hissing of serpents: quoted from MM 47.

393.34] (fa un ultimo sforzo:) Soccorso!: from Tosca (see above).

393.35] Chrysippus. Cleanthes. Zeno. Pyrrho: see 352.30, 376.21, 375.36, and 130.7, respectively.

393.36] Hipparchia's courtship [...] Telephus and Crates: Hipparchia was a female Greek philosopher of the late fourth century B.C.; her "courtship" is described in LEP 6:

She fell in love with the discourses and the life of Crates, and would not pay attention to any of her suitors, their wealth, their high birth or their beauty. But to her Crates was everything. She used even to threaten her parents she would make away with herself, unless she were given in marriage to him. Crates therefore was implored by her parents to dissuade the girl, and did all he could, and at last, failing to persuade her, got up, took off his clothes before her face and said, "This is the bridegroom, here are his possessions; make your choice accordingly; for you will be no helpmeet of mine, unless you share my pursuits."

Earlier, Crates is said to have been converted to the Cynic philosophy after "having once, in a certain tragedy, seen Telephus holding a date basket, and in a miserable plight in other respects" - the only reference to Telephus in LEP.

393.38] A,M,D,G, [...] Ad Mariam Dei Genetricem: A.M.D.G. usually stands for Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam ("For the Greater Glory of God" - motto of the Jesuit order), but the Latin phrase here translates "To Mary Mother of God," and is apparently from Butler's The Way of All Flesh (chap. 28):

Dr. Skinner had lately published a pamphlet upon this subject ["a reconciliation between the Churches of England and Rome"], which had shown great learning, and had attacked the Church of Rome in a way which did not promise much hope of reconciliation. He had grounded his attack upon the letters A.M.D.G., which he had seen outside a Roman Catholic chapel, and which of course stood for Ad Mariam Dei Genetricem. Could anything be more idolatrous?

I am told, by the way, that I must have let my memory play me one of the tricks it often does play me, when I said the Doctor proposed Ad Mariam Dei Genetricem as the full harmonies, so to speak, which should be constructed upon the bass A.M.D.G., for that this is bad Latin, and that the doctor really harmonised the letters thus: Ave Maria Dei Genetrix. No doubt the doctor did what was right in the matter of Latinity - I have forgotten the little Latin I ever knew, and am not going to look the matter up, but I believe the doctor said Ad Mariam Dei Genetricem, and if so we may be sure that Ad Mariam Dei Genetricem is good enough Latin at any rate for ecclesiastical purposes.

393.39] (Lao-tse's 84-year gestation): or Lao Tzu (ca. 600-530 B.C.), Chinese philosopher, traditional author of the Tao Te Ching. Saltus writes (AN 29-30):

The life of this early thinker has been as liberally interwoven with legends as that of the Buddha. The Orient seems to have had a mania for attributing the birth of reformers to immaculate conceptions; and one learns with the weariness that comes of a thrice-told tale, that the mother of Laou-tze, finding herself one day alone, conceived suddenly through the vivifying influence of Nature. But though the conception was abrupt, the gestation was prolonged, lasting, it is said, eighty-four years; and when at last the miraculous child was born, his hair was white - whence his name, Laou-tze, the Aged Baby.

393.40] burning bush: the form Yahweh took to speak to Moses (Exod. 3:2).

393.41] dixIt, pinxIt: traditional elements of Latin signatures, "written by" and "painted by," respectively.

393.42] Varé tava soskei: see 255.24.

393.42] Mermaid mahn stole my heart away: see 347.3.

393.44] (verso:) Ti soffoca il sangue?: see 393.29 above.

394.4] Alexander VI [...] the rape of (Christian) girls: from Saltus's description of the corruption of the Renaissance papacy: "Of Alexander VI. [pope 1492-1503], the father and lover of Lucretia Borgia, little that is favorable can be said, except perhaps that he was the most magnificent ruffian that Rome had seen since the days when Nero, with a concave emerald for monocle, watched the rape of Christian girls" (AN 101).

394.5] Ah! è morto! [...] tutta Roma!: after stabbing Scarpia, Tosca says: "Ah! he is dead! . . . Now I forgive him! . . . And it was before him that all Rome trembled!"

394.42] Jupiter [...] Baal: "the names of the sun" (395.6); the many Old Testament references to sun worship in this chapter were no doubt developed from a concordance, and the present listing of solar deities may be based in part on the headnote to "sun" in Cruden's Complete Concordance (New York: Holt, Rinehart, 1930), 647:

The sun has been the object of worship and adoration to the greatest part of the people of the East. It is thought to be the sun that the Phenicians [sic] worshipped under the name Baal, the Moabites under the name of Chemosh, the Ammonites by that of Moloch, and the Israelites under the name of Baal and by the king of the hosts of heaven. They did not separate his worship from that of the moon, whom they called Astarte, and the queen of heaven.

395.9] man or woman [...] host of heaven: see Deut. 17:2-3, 5.

395.13] And lest thou [...] Lord thy God . . .: ". . . hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven" (Deut. 4:19).

397.7] Christian temple at Tyre: from Lethaby (AMM 197):

The earliest Christian buildings naturally looked to the temple as a type, and it would appear from Eusebius, that even the toran found a place in the new structures. Describing the Church of Tyre, he says that a magnificent propylon was built, far off toward the sun-rising, to attract the passer-by; passing through the court and other gates, the entrance to the temple itself was reached, which also fronted the rising sun, and was covered with brass.

398.9] the departing back: perhaps a reference to Moses being favored with a glimpse of Yahweh's backside (Exod. 33:23).

398.16] Oorooma way? [...] Ballima way?: see 268.27 ff.

398.16] Krakatao and the yellow day in Boston: see 60.43.

398.17] Grand Climacteric: age sixty-three. Lethaby writes: "At three times seven - twenty-one - we become 'of age.' Three times twenty-one is the 'grand climacteric;' and seventy years is put as the time to die" (AMM 123, in a discussion of the sacred number seven [cf. 92.26]).

398.17] Valerian: see 74.40 and cf. 405.6-10 and 421.18 ff.

398.21] Cave, cave [...] dominus vulgus vult: a combination of two Latin phrases previously quoted: see 25.40 and 254.2.

398.26] Tyndale: see 46.17.

398.31] the vigilant conspiracy of inanimate things: cf. "The total depravity of inanimate things," attributed to E. M. Forster in J R (486).

399.1] another blue day: see 238.27.

399.4] spectral stabat mater: see 338.11; Wyatt's "spectral" mother visited him on p. 20 (and cf. 52.4 ff.).

399.16] skipping dancing and foretelling things to come all ye faithful: see 137.32-33 and 391.31.

399.17] of thine own give we back to thee: from the hymn heard at 21.26-27.

399.36] world of shapes and smells provided force and matter to touch a line without changing it: see 262.42, 393.12, and 138.38-39.

399.40] The prosperity of the godly shall be an eyesore to the wicked: apparently a paraphrase of Ps. 112:10 using the diction of Psalm 73. The quotation that follows is Ps. 112:3.

400.1] GLORIA! sings Handel's soprano: unidentified: could be any number of works.

400.27] "Ah, that dear old mother's Bible [...] in the grave : from a song entitled "The Drunkard and His Bible" by someone indicated only by initials (W.H.P.), anthologized in Lizzie Penney's Readings and Recitations, vol. 1 (NY: National Temperance Society and Publishing House, 1879), the source for most the Town Carpenter's snatches of temperance songs. {Mark Hale}

401.12] careful and troubled about many things [...] cumbered with much serving: from the description in Luke 10:38-42 of the active Martha, who is compared (to her disadvantage) to the contemplative Mary. Cf. PPM 28.

401.18] "Nymph in thy orisons, be all my sins remembered": Hamlet 3.1.97-98.

401.19] Tom Swift: inventive hero of a series of boys' novels by Edward Stratemeyer (1862-1930).

401.36] daughter of Jephthah [...] bewailing her virginity: see Judg. 11.1-12:7. Graves says that in Wales in the 1850s "the hills of Fan Fach and South Barrule in Carmarthenshire were crowded with mourners for Llew Llaw on the first Sunday in August, their excuse being that they were 'going up to bewail Jephthah's daughter on the mountain!'" (WG 251).

402.28] Manichee: a follower of the dualistic Oriental religion of Manichaeism, which centers on the conflict between light/good and dark/evil. "The fundamental dogma of all Manichaean sects is that the soul is divine or angelic, and is imprisoned in created forms - in terrestrial matter, which is Night" (LWW 60; de Rougemont goes on to demonstrate the influence of Manichaeism on Christianity in general and on courtly love in particular).

403.9] Prester John: see note to 408.14; Janet's rhyming riddle is Gaddis's own, he believes (WG/SM).

403.12] Maran-atha!: the earliest Christians, Saltus notes, lived "in a state of constant expectation. Their watchword was Maran atha, The Lord cometh" (AN 73). See 1 Cor. 16:22. Also cited by Legge (FRC 1:xxvi).

403.20] "I am but a lump of clay [...] caught its fragrance": a passage from a sermon (apparently) by English preacher William Morley Punshon (1824-81): "There is a beautiful Indian [sometimes Persian] apologue which says: 'A man once said to a lump of clay, "What art thou?" The reply was: "I am but a lump of clay, but I was placed beside a rose and I caught its fragrance." So our prayers are placed beside the smoke of incense ascending before God; . . .'" Frequently anthologized; Gaddis's source unknown. {Mark Hale}

403.31] bull: this bull, along with Wyatt's golden bull, reflects the symbolic importance of the bull to Mithraism. The Tauroctonous ("Bull-Slaying") Mithra is the most common subject of Mithraic art, for from the wound in the bull's side came all the plants and grains of the earth. "What," Graves notes, "for the early Church Councils, seemed the most diabolical and unpardonable heresy of all was the identification of the Hercules-Dionysus-Mithra bull, whose living flesh the Orphic ascetics tore and ate in their initiation ceremony, with Jesus Christ whose living flesh was symbolically torn and eaten in the Holy Communion" (WG 116).

      Index    

index || introductory & general || site search || Gaddis news
The Recognitions || J R || Carpenter's Gothic || A Frolic of his Own || Agapē Agape

All contents © 2000-2005 by the Gaddis Annotations site and the original authors, contributors, publishers, and publications.