|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions
II.5 pp. pages 512-540
512.6] Malleus Maleficarum [...] sight and touch": MM 173, though the "phenomenon" is more fully discussed earlier in the book.
513.5] Democritus [...] less liable to dissolution": "Democritus rejected the notion of a deity taking part in the creation or government of the universe, but yielded to popular prejudice so far as to admit the existence of a class of beings, of the same form as men, grander, composed of very subtle atoms, less liable to dissolution, but still mortal, dwelling in the upper regions of the air" (EB 7:188).
513.9] Anatole: undoubtedly named after journalist Anatole Broyard (d. 1990), Gaddis's rival for Sheri Martinelli's affections in the late 1940s. Broyard's affair with her is described in his posthumous memoir Kafka Was the Rage (1993).
513.12] the green muffler: cf. Dostoevski's The Idiot (see 937.30 ff.), where Kolya borrows Ganya's new green scarf to deliver Myshkin's letter to Aglaia (2.1).
513.13] Absalom [...] Joab: see 2 Sam. 18:14.
514.2] March of the Sardar: final and best-known section of Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov's (1859-1935) orchestral suite Caucasian Sketches (1895).
514.35] "He that is slow to wrath [...] exalteth folly": Prov. 14:29.
515.12] Mozart's Turkish March: the "Allegro all turca" from the Piano Sonata in A Major, K. 300.
518.4] Blue Danube waltz: the popular piece by Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-99).
520.1] Vissi d'arte [...] ad anima viva: from Tosca; see 91.17.
522.16] Jones Street: Sheri Martinelli lived on this short street in the West Village.
523.1] the one about the muscular fellow named Rex: "There was a young fellow named Rex / With diminutive organs of sex; / When charged with exposure / He said with composure, / 'De minimus non curat lex!'" ("The law does not concern itself with trifles" - a legal maxim).
523.3] Il y avait une jeune fille de Dijon: a variant of: "Il y avait un jeune homme de Dijon, / Qui n'avait que peu de religion. / It dit, 'Quant à moi, / Je m'encule tous les trois - / Le Père, et le Fils, et le Pigeon.'"
523.4] Es gibt ein Arbeiter von Linz: a variant of: "Es giebt ein Arbeiter von Tinz, / Er schläft mit ein Mädel von Linz. / Sie sagt, 'Halt sein' plummen, / Ich höre Mann kommen.' / 'Jacht, jacht,' sagt der Plummer, 'Ich binz.'"
523.5] "The whole gripping story [...] The Moan of the Tiber: As Christopher Leise notes (“The Power of Babel,” in William Gaddis, “The Last of Something ,” 36), Anselm/Gaddis is quoting not from The Moan of the Tiber —a ludicrous, anti-Catholic book on the alleged mistreatment of nuns, by Guy Fitch Phelps (Milan, IL: Rail Splitter Press, 1917)—but an ad for the book reproduced on p. 124 of Michael Williams's The Shadow of the Pope (NY: Whittlesey House, 1932). A serious study of anti-Catholicism in American history, Willaims's book is the source for several other sensationalist nuns' confessions mentioned in R : see 766.2-3, 828.44, 829.6-7.
523.32] Too Much Mustard [...] Bach: a 1911 song by Cecil Macklin, featured in the 1939 movie The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle. See 537.17 ff. for Bach.
523.33] I can give you anything but love: see 594.11.
524.41] Kollwitz print, "Zwei Gefangene Musik hörend": "Two Prisoners Listening to Music" (1925) by Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945), German painter and lithographer.
525.11] Cummings' poem, a salesman is an it that stinks to please: from 1 X 1 (1944).
526.44] Everything is either concave or convex: a rhyming quip that concludes ". . . So whatever you dream will be something with sex." That is, in Freudian psychology everything is either a masculine or a feminine symbol; for example, "men raised cigarettes in erect threat; women proffered the olive-tongued cavities of empty glasses" (572.13-14).
527.21] Saint Francis Xavier was only four and a half feet tall: see 392.40.
528.13] the beast in the jungle. The beast with two backs [...] the number of the beast: references to a Henry James story (1903), Iago's description of fornication (see 200.36), and Revelations 13:18 (see 499.17), respectively.
529.17] Old Masses: cf. New Masses, a weekly periodical that appeared in 1926 (the successor to the communist-oriented Liberator, which succeeded the original The Masses), revamped as a monthly in 1948 under the name Masses & Mainstream.
530.14] Montherlant [...] Le bonheur [...] de médiocre qualité: Henry de Montherlant (1896-1972), French novelist. Although I could not locate this exact quotation (the French original of Gordon's epigram) in Montherlant's major writings, it is possible Max is misquoting or paraphrasing, for there are many similar sentiments in Montherlant's tetralogy Les Jeunes filles (1936-39; translated into English in 1938-40 and again in 1968 - I shall quote from the latter: The Girls, trans. Terence Kilmartin [New York: Harper & Row]). For example, compare the present quotation with: "For melancholy is the luxury of the poor in spirit" (437). (Gaddis later commented: "the only other book of Montherlant I remember reading is Les Célibataires though your derivation from Les jeunes filles in another translation sounds likely" [WG/SM].) Other possible borrowings from The Girls are Esther's complaint "A woman is always waiting" (128.21; Montherlant: "Women are always waiting, hopefully up to a certain age, hopelessly thereafter" ) and the orgasmic possibilities in decapitating a duck (76.13-14; Montherlant: "How he loved to take them [consumptive girls] as they coughed, like those perverts who take ducks as they decapitate them!" ).
530.19] Vainiger [...] Die Philosophie des Als Ob: The Philosophy of "As If": A System of the Theoretical, Practical and Religious Fictions of Mankind (1911) by German philosopher Hans Vaihinger, whom Wyatt and Otto discussed earlier (120.16). The book is recommended in Huxley's Eyeless in Gaza, alluded to later (644.37).
530.30] The buttons say U.S. [...] and Mo-therrr: song unidentified.
530.40] als ob [...] nicht gewachsen: Ger. "as if, I give you my word, [...] I am not a match for him." The last phrase is the German original of section 185 of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, which translates: "'I dislike him.' - Why? - 'I am not a match for him.' - Did any one ever answer so?"
531.16] Why Not Try God? [...] by Mary Pickford: (1893-1979), popular actress in the early days of movies. Her slight book is highly recommended by Carnegie (HWF 2.2).
532.5] Catharism [...] Albigensians: heretical medieval sects that held dualistic beliefs similar to those of the Gnostics and Manichaens (see 433.1 and 402.28, respectively), namely, a good spirit created the spiritual world and an evil one the material world, which includes the human body. For this reason, they held marriage and generation in contempt and commended suicide as a refusal to participate in a world ruled by evil. See LWW 74-78.
532.6] Bishop Berkeley: see 81.9. Haggard notes that both Mary Baker Eddy (author of Science and Health) and Bishop Berkeley believed "Matter is merely an illusion" (DDD 314).
532.7] Science and Health: see 478.23. Haggard offers a scathing review of Eddy's personal life and the various editions of her Science and Health (DDD 310-15). As Gaddis notes in his essay "Old Foes with New Faces," much of Science and Health was plagiarized from Francis Lieber (Yale Review 83.4 [October 1995]: 13-14).
534.41] Ibsen [...] The Wild Duck: a play (1884) examining the nature of reality, especially when distorted by idealism and romanticism. It has a number of thematic points in common with R.
535.6] Saint Anselm [...] part of his understanding itself": from Saint Anselm's Proslogion, chap. 2, an argument for the existence of God.
535.14] Saint Augustine [...] before they are produced": from Augustine’s Homilies on the Gospel of John, chap. 1, sec. 17. Gaddis’s source is “In Behalf of the Fool: An Answer to the Argument of Anselm in the Proslogium” by Gaunilon, a monk of Marmoutier, printed as an appendix in the edition of Anselm’s works that Gaddis owned (trans. Sidney Norton Deane, Open Court Press, 1939): “Hence, your example of the painter who already has in his understanding what he is to paint cannot agree with this argument. For the picture, before it is made, is contained in the artificer’s art itself; and any such thing, existing in the art of an artificer, is nothing but a part of his understanding itself. A joiner, St. Augustine says, when he is about to make a box in fact, first has it in his art. The box which is made in fact is not life; but the box which exists in his art is life. For the artificer’s soul lives, in which all these things are, before they are produced. Why, then, are these things life in the living soul of the artificer, unless because they are nothing else than the knowledge or understanding of the soul itself?” (sec. 3). [Greg Werge/SM]
535.22] Nola: popular piano instrumental, written by Felix Arndt. Les Paul's famous version was released in 1950. [MR]
535.33] Save the bones for Henry Jones [...] Cause Henry don't eat no meat: lyrics from a song; recorded by Ray Charles on his album Just Between Us.
535.40] Frazer says [...] absurd practices: GB 477 (slightly misquoted).
535.43] Saint Augustine [...] imitating the sacraments: see 719.13.
536.6] The god killed [...] the god's death: paraphrased from Frazer (GB 469).
536.16] Justin Martyr [...] "the evil spirits practice mimicry": from the Apology (as quoted in SPIM 39) of Saint Justin the Martyr (114?-165?), who opened the first Christian school in Rome.
536.31] Gott-trunkener Mensch: "A man drunk with God" is what Novalis called Spinoza (ODQ)(see 93.1), and what Jack Gibbs calls "Herr Bahnhofmeister Teets" in J R (189).
536.33] what they offered Spinoza to reform? [...] the Schammatha: from Saltus (AN 112-13) who, unlike Anselm, greatly admired the Dutch-Jewish philosopher:
Spinoza was educated to be a rabbi, but with increasing years he grew too big for Jewish theology and declined to visit the synagogue. It was then that some zealot tried to stab him. This argument being insufficient, the elders offered him an annual pension of a thousand florins, on condition that now and then he would appear in the synagogue and keep his opinions to himself. Spinoza was very poor, but his opinions were to him more precious than money. He refused therefore, and was excommunicated at once. The great ban, the Schammatha, was publicly pronounced upon him. For half-an-hour, to the blare of trumpets, he was cursed in the name which contains forty-two letters; in the name of Him who said, I am that I am and who shall be; in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the Tetragrammaton; in the name of the Globes, the Wheels, Mysterious Beasts and Ministering Angels; in the name of the great Prince Michael; in the name of Metateron, whose name is like that of his master; in the name of Achthariel Jah. The Seraphim and Ofanim were called upon to give mouth to the malediction. Jehovah was supplicated never to forgive his sin, to let all the curses in the Book of the Law fall upon him and blot him from under the heavens. Then, as the music swooned in a shudder of brass, the candles were reversed, and through the darkness the whole congregation chanted in unison, Amen!
After that, Spinoza, being no longer a Jew, changed his name from Baruch to Benedictus, and turned his thoughts from the Kabbala to Descartes.
537.17] Bach [...] feeble but diligent footsteps": from the cantata "Jesu, der du meine Seele" (1724), text based on a hymn by Johann Rist. The animated duet (for soprano and alto) translates (by Charles Enderby):
hasten with feeble yet eager footsteps
538.7] the sky over the Campagna where Attila's Huns [...] unburied dead: from Conybeare: "The legend, however, that it was on the third day or after three days that Jesus was raised from the dead, was not generated by prophecy alone; for it was a popular belief that the spirit or soul of a man remains by his corpse for a period of three days - a belief glanced at in the legend of the raising of Lazarus" (MMM 296). He continues in a note (373-74):
This belief is quaintly illustrated in a story told by Damascius (about A.D. 450) in his life of Isidore. The Huns, under Attila, fought in the Campagna against the armies of Rome. The battle was so fierce and prolonged that no combatants were left alive on either side. But the fray did not then cease, for the spirits of the slain proceeded to fall on one another; and for three days and nights a ghostly battle raged over the waste plain on which their bodies were stretched unburied. And there were those, says Damascius, who were witnesses of the phantom warfare, and heard the war-cries of the dead as they continued, with unabated fury, to rain blows upon one another.
540.23] Sorcerer's Apprentice: symphonic work by French composer Paul Dukas (1897), based on Goethe's ballad "Der Zauber lehrling."