|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions
II.4 pp. pages 446-468
446.epigraph] "I've had a good dream [...] Brothers Karamazov: the last sentence of part 9, chap. 8. Mitya falls asleep at the end of the examination of witnesses at his trial and dreams of poor peasants. "And he felt that a passion of pity, such as he had never known before, was rising in his heart, that he wanted to cry, that he wanted to do something for them all, so that the babe should weep no more, so that the dark-faced, dried-up mother should not weep, that no one should shed tears again from that moment, and he wanted to do it at once, at once, regardless of all obstacles, with all the recklessness of the Karamazovs" (Constance Garnett translation). Upon waking, he discovers that someone has placed a pillow beneath his head. Under the dual influence of the unexpected kindness and the inspiring dream, he agrees to sign whatever the authorities wish.
446.1] Sempre con fè sincera [...] perchè me ne rimuneri così?: from Tosca; see 91.17.
447.23] that isn't what I meant [...] That isn't what I meant at all: a refrain in Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."
450.38] a forged Titian: from a "newspaper story which Gaddis saw when The Recognitions was already at the printer, and which he felt so central to what his novel was about that he inserted it at some added expense," except that the "worthless old painting" (450.40) was actually "a fairly good 19th century painting" (Koenig, "'Splinters from the Yew Tree,'" 12).
451.35] Saint John of the Cross [...] take out love": in a discussion of Saint Gregory's distinction between the active and the contemplative life (see 488.10), Summers writes (PPM 29):
In a letter dated 6th July, 1591, only five months before his death, when already he had been "thrown into a corner like an old rag" - to use his own phrase - St. John says to a nun [María de la Encarnación], who bewailed the seeming triumph of his persecutors and enemies, "As to my affairs, daughter, let them not trouble you, for none of them trouble me. [...] These things are not done by men, but by God, Who knows what is meet for us and ordains things for our good. Think only that God ordains all. And where there is no love, stablish love there, and you will find love."
452.23] Tolstoy's Kingdom of God: The Kingdom of God Is within You; or, Christianity Not as a Mystical Teaching but as a New Concept of Life (1893) is Tolstoy's interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount and an exposition of the principles of civic nonresistance (which greatly influenced Gandhi). It also attacks institutional Christianity and advocates a return to Christ's basic teachings.
453.31] a three time psychoanaloser: repeated from 183.37.
453.35] little girl's clothes and rape her. - Too much Dostoevski: in a chapter of The Possessed long suppressed, Stavrogin describes a sexual encounter with a twelve-year-old girl who, feeling afterward that she has "killed God" as a result, hangs herself. Similarly, the profligate Svidrigaylov in Crime and Punishment admits to having sexually abused young girls, one of whom committed suicide afterward. Toward the end of the novel he dreams of rescuing a shivering, crying, five-year-old girl, undressing her, and allowing her to take his bed to recover. He soon sees in her countenance, however, "the face of a courtesan, the brazen face of a mercenary French harlot." Shortly after waking from this nightmare, Svidrigaylov shoots himself.
454.21] Zheeed: André Gide (1869-1951), French novelist and critic. Gaddis admits reading The Counterfeiters when young, but doubts it had any influence on his work.
455.11] common asphodel: The Common Asphodel (1949) is a collection of essays on poetry by Robert Graves.
455.18] Beauty, serenely disdains to destroy us: from Rilke's first Duino Elegy; see 277.34 ff., 622.16 ff.
456.27] Velasquez, Venus
and Cupid: Diego Velásquez (1599-1660), the greatest Spanish
painter of the seventeenth century. This painting, also known as the Rokeby
Venus, dates from 1648-51.
458.28] Averroes [...] believe in order to understand: see 382.29-30.
458.32] sculpture by Lipchitz, titled Mother and Child II: Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973), Lithuanian-born French sculptor. A reproduction of the sculpture is featured in the February 1952 issue of Art News - an issue Gaddis read (see 888.8) - but the critical remarks quoted by Max are not from Art News (which states: "the lunge of its savagely truncated arms and the double image it forms of a bull's head are deeply moving, but might repel superficially delicate tastes").
461.4] van Gogh says about painting [...] "vague consonance of colors": Lindey quotes the Dutch panter writing (in a letter to his brother Theo): "I pose the black and white of Delacroix and Millet or something taken from them before me as a subject. And then I improvise color on it, not, you understand, altogether as myself, but searching for memories of their pictures -- but the memory, 'the vague consonance of colors,' which are right in feeling at least -- that is my own interpretation" (Plagiarism and Originality, 170). Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), the major painter of the French Romantic movement, was greatly admired by van Gogh; for Millet, see 73.26.
461.10] a vacuous tenor [...] I'm dreaming of a white Christmas: Bing Crosby introduced the song "White Christmas" in the 1942 film Holiday Inn.
461.13] Cherubini: Maria Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842), Italian composer.
461.26] Yes We Have No Bananas [...] from The Messiah: noted by Lindey (186). After the 1923 Silver-Cohen song became a hit, the Westman Company, which published Handel's music, took the song's publishers to court and successfully proved that the melody was indeed a direct steal from a portion of The Messiah. The Westman Company was awarded a share of the song's profits.
463.28] Ben Shahn's, "You cannot invent the shape of a stone": Lithuanian-born American painter (1898-1969), a very social-minded artist. Source of quotation (first used at 123.10) unknown.
463.32] Stevenson says, we all live by selling something: in an essay entitled "Beggars"(in Across the Plains, 1892), Stevenson writes: "Every one lives by selling something, whatever be his right to it" (first half quoted in ODQ).
463.44] Sherlock Holmes [...] Doylean literary tricks: Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr's "The Adventure of the Seven Clocks" appeared in the 29 December 1952 issue of Life (54-61). "How Holmes Was Reborn," by Herbert Brean, follows the story (62-66) and is the source for Max's quotation on the reproduction of Doyle's style.
464.34] The devil is the father of false art: "The Devil is the father of false art, of all those works which are 'neither good nor bad,' because the act of which they were born suppresses the very measures of beauty" (DS 40-41).
464.41] you kill the thing you love: cf. Oscar Wilde's once-famous line, "Yet each man kills the thing he loves" ("Ballad of Reading Gaol," ODQ). Cf. Juliet's concern (383.29).
466.6] it's difficult to shed our human nature: see 130.7-10.
466.9] A little always sticks: a vulgarization of the semper aliquid haeret motif (see 336.32).
467.5] "chilly hell" of the poet's Elegy on the Thousand Children: Graves (WG 77) quotes four lines from Gwion's (see 3.9) "Marwnad y Milveib" (Elegy on the Thousand Children):
numbers there were
467.6] Boreas: the personification of the north wind in Greek mythology.
Bishop of Zanzibar: a biography of Frank
Weston (1871-1924), an Anglican missionary in Africa and
a leader of the Anglo-Catholic party. The biography is by
H. Maynard Smith and was published in 1926. (Though
appropriate reading for one considering a life of
missionary work - as Wyatt is rather wildly doing at this
point - Gaddis seems to have taken nothing from this book
but its title.)
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