|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions
II.7 pp. pages 606-645
606.31] "There was something terribly lacking between what I felt and what I could do": from an exchange between Fedya and Prince Sergius (1.4), which reveals many similarities between Fedya and Wyatt:
606.36] Maillart's bridge at Salginatobel: featured on pp. 60-64 of Bill's Robert Maillart.
606.39] The arch never sleeps: see 96.44.
608.40] Black beetles in wal-nut shells, bound round her baby's eyes : lines from an English ballad, see note 604.33 [AZ]
610.11] Sappho: famous woman poet (sixth century B.C.) from the Greek island of Lesbos (whence lesbian).
611.10] fairies in the bottom of your garden: from Rose Fyleman's (1877-1957) once-popular poem for children, "The Fairies" (ODQ).
613.23] Handel's Royal Fireworks Music: one of the more popular of Handel's orchestral suites.
613.23] Bye Bye Blackbird: 1926 song by Mort Dixon (words) and Ray Henderson (music), popularized by Eddie Cantor and later identified with Georgie Price.
613.26] On the Sunny Side of the Street: 1930 song by Dorothy Fields (words) and Jimmy McHugh, featured in a number of films in the 1940s and 1950s, including the movie of the same name (1951).
616.4] on whole, and express an entire perfect action, as Aristotle says: in chap. 7 of his Poetics, Aristotle states: "The truth is that, just as in the other imitative arts one imitation is of one thing, so in poetry the story, as an imitation of action, must represent one action, a complete whole, with its several incidents so closely connected that the transposal or withdrawal of any one of them will disjoin and dislocate the whole" (trans. Ingram Bywater).
616.15] Mauberge: that is, Maubeuge, city in northern France.
617.20] "We hasten with feeble but diligent footsteps": see 537.22.
617.22] Voltaire [...] it would be necessary to invent him": the well-known saying is from Epîtres: a l'auteur du nouveau livre des trois imposteurs (1769) and is quoted (but translated differently) in ODQ and AN 194-95. Stanley doesn't "read Voltaire of course" because his works were on the Catholic Index.
617.34] Simon Magus: Peter's chief adversary in the Clementine Recognitions (see 373.1). In book 2, chap. 9, a disciple of Peter's named Aquila reveals that Simon once promised, in return for helping him to win the love of a woman named Luna, that he would allow Aquila and his friends "'to be invested with the highest honours, and we should be believed by men to be gods.'"
618.35] Musica Donum Dei: "Music is the Gift of God."
620.28] "Wer, wenn ich schriee . . .": see 622.16 ff.
620.33] The Vertebrate Eye and its Adaptive Radiation: a thick volume on comparative ocular biology by Gordon L. Walls, published in 1942.
622.16] Duino Elegies [...] Die erste: the opening lines of the first ("Die erste") of Rilke's Duino Elegies;see 277.34 ff. for a translation of the first seven lines.
622.34] Sonette an Orpheus: Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus (also 1922), after the Elegies his greatest poetic achievement.
622.44] "Weisst du's noch nicht?: "Don't you know yet?" ("First Elegy," l. 22).
623.42] hysterical pregnancy: "Hysterical persons involuntarily counterfeit the symptoms of physical disease as a means of attracting attention to themselves," Dr. Haggard notes, "of attaining sympathy, and of avoiding disagreeable situations. [...] Hysterical women may believe themselves pregnant and show all the signs of that condition" (DDD 288).
624.22] It's always morning somewhere [...] That's Longfellow: the line "'Tis always morning somewhere in the world" is from Richard Hengist Horne's Orion (1843; ODQ). The man in uniform is probably thinking of Longfellow's last poem, "The Bells of San Blas" (1882): "Out of the shadows of night / The world rolls into light; / It is daybreak everywhere."
624.29] Hannah the Horror of Hampstead: apparently a British ballad.
625.14] as though he'd never seen [...] what was able to take his breath away: from Browning's "A Likeness" (see 193.18).
625.22] the campiest limerick about an a-meeba and the queen of She-ba: cf. "There was a young lady named Sheba, / Fell in love with an eager amoeba. / This queer bit of jelly / Crept into her belly, / And ecstatically murmured, "Ich liebe!"
626.10] Einstein says [...] the universe: in a letter to his colleague Max Born, Albert Einstein wrote: "I cannot believe that God would choose to play dice with the universe."
626.38] time past and future, both contained in this limicolous present: cf. the opening lines of Eliot's "Burnt Norton" (see 160.30); "limicolous" means "mud-dwelling."
627.17] Derive venereal: Middle English venerealle < Latin venereus < Venus (goddess of love).
627.35] Emerson [...] that eclectic digger: perhaps an allusion to Emerson's observation: "There is no way to success in our art but to take off your coat, grind paint, and work like a digger on the railroad, all day and every day" (ODQ).
628.27] Judas Maccabaeus: see 136.6.
628.33] hapteron: the attaching organ that allows aquatic plants to fasten onto rocks.
628.38] Mickey Mouse semaphored annul: five or ten minutes after six.
629.24] Suckling [...] 'tis let loose": the conclusion of "Love's Offense"; the full text of the poem can be found in The Works of Sir John Suckling, ed. Thomas Clayton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), 1:52-53.
631.6] Carruthers had a mare: see 66.2.
631.10] Cómo? qué dice . . . ?: "What? what did you say?"
631.28] take two strips of benny [...] a connection uptown we can probably catch: taken from William S. Burroughs's first novel, Junkie (1953; Gaddis owns the first Ace edition published under the pseudonym William Lee; I'm citing the later Ace edition published under his real name): "'Benzedrine is a good kick,' [a woman named Mary] said. 'Three strips of the paper or about ten tablets. Or take two strips of benny and two goof balls. They get down there and have a fight. It's a good drive.' [...] 'Why don't we go uptown? I know several good connections we can probably catch about now'" (28-29).
631.36] leader of men: see 171.38.
632.4] He died in my apartment in Paris when I was having my first one-man show: see 63.28.
632.11] B.M.T.: the Broadway subway line; see 560.12.
632.26] There's no more to drink [...] Woman! what have I to do: a parody of Jesus' first miracle at the wedding at Cana (John 2).
632.37] For I am come [...] his own household: Matt. 10:35-36. Wyatt earlier quoted from the same chapter (430.22).
633.20] caul: a membrane that sometimes envelops the head at birth, considered a good omen by the superstitious.
633.41] Arse gratias artis: a ribald version of ars gratia artis (Lat.: "art for art's sake").
634.14] Ferita: in mysticism, "the heart-wound, or transverberation of the heart" (PPM 118).
634.14] sweat of blood in Gethsemane: "Certain stigmaticas," Summers notes, "for example St. Lutgarde of Tongres, the Cistercian nun who died in 1246; the Capuchiness St. Veronica Giuliani, 1660-1727; Blessed Catherine of Racconigi, a Domicaness of the Third Order, 1486-1547; and many others suffered the sweat of blood in Gethsemane" (PPM 127).
634.41] Lupercalia: see 312.10.
635.35] the orchid under foot: see 201.20.
636.1] Und wir bewundern [...] uns zu zerstören: "And why we adore it so is because it serenely / disdains to destroy us" ("First Elegy," ll. 6-7).
638.24] The Razor's Edge: 1944 novel by Somerset Maugham (see 262.8) concerning two Americans abroad: the elder a determined social climber, the younger a man in search of spiritual values, which he eventually finds in India.
638.28] philander: unlike the earlier derivation of "faggot" (593.44), this one is correct.
638.36] Iphigenia: daughter of Agamemnon, sacrificed by him to gain favorable winds for the Greek fleet on its way to Troy; however, she was spirited away from her funeral pyre by Artemis and lived to be united with her brother Orestes; she is the subject of plays by Euripides, Racine, Goethe, and others.
640.15] We'll just go [...] and get high on benny: another quotation from Burroughs's Junkie (see 631.28), also spoken by Mary: "'Let's buy some benny tubes and go over to Denny's. They have some gone numbers on the box. We can order coffee and get high on benny'" (29).
640.31] Fedya [...] the deed was mine": see 605.22; although Fedya does commit suicide, the quoted lines are Nikíta's in The Power of Darkness, as Feddle realizes.
640.37] "When the claw is caught, the bird is lost": the subtitle of Tolstoy's play The Power of Darkness (1886), concerning a man named Nikíta who commits a series of crimes but finally makes a public confession. He repeats the proverb at the end of the play as the light of redemption vanquishes the power of darkness.
641.3] Pokheepsie: that is, Poughkeepsie, 65 miles north of New York City.
641.12] Today is the day they give babies away: "The Day They Gave Babies Away" is a story by Dale Eunson that appeared in the Christmas 1946 number of Cosmopolitan, their most successful Christmas story ever. It was published as a book the following year. Perhaps more to the point, there was a soldiers' ditty circulating in the 1940s that went "Today is the day they give babies away / with a half a pound of tea. / If you know any ladies who want any babies / Just send them round to me." [AW]
641.37] Stars and Stripes Forever: a Sousa march (1897).
641.37] Violets: turn-of-the-century song by Julian Fane (words, adapted from a poem by Heine) and Ellen Wright (music). The middle part of the song was appropriated by Bernice Petkere for her popular song "Starlight," which resulted in a plagiarism suit.
643.39] qui tollis peccata mundi [...] dona nobis pacem: from the Agnes Dei of the Mass: "Lamb of God, You who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. / (Repeat) / Lamb of God, You who take away the sins of the world, grant us peace."
644.37] eyeless enough in this reduction of Gaza: Eyeless in Gaza (1936) is a novel by Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) concerning a young man whose meaningless life takes on new meaning when he converts to mystical doctrines not unlike Huxley's own. The title is from Milton's Samson Agonistes, in which Samson is "Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves" (ODQ).
645.18] In nomine . . .: "In the name of . . ." Anselm's self-castration recalls that of Origen: see 103.3 ff., the same page on which Anselm first appears.
645.30] Cozy fan tooty: Cosě fan tutti (It.: "Everybody does it") - the title of an opera by Mozart (1790).
645.37] Yom Kippur was around Hallowe'en: it falls in late September or early October; the patron is mistaking Yom Kippur with Hanukkah, which coincides with the Christmas season.