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.8 pp. pages 647-678

647.epigraph] Then Adam [...] The Harrowing of Hell: from the Chester (England) Cooks' and Innkeepers' passion play; "hert" means promised. Gaddis's text is from Chief Pre-Shakespearean Dramas, ed. Joseph Quincey Adams (Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin, 1924), 187-90.

647.9] Mr. Inononu: cf. Ismet Inönü (1884-1973), Turkish statesman.

647.12] Fas et Nefas [...] quadam singulari: the first stanza of "Vagans loquitur" (The Gift of Giving), one of the Carmina Burana, a medieval anthology of anonymous poems and student drinking songs:

Fas et Nefas ambulant
pene passu pari;
prodigus non redimit
vitium avari;
virtus temperantia
quadam singulari
debet medium
ad utrumque vitium
caute contemplari.

Right and Wrong they go about
Cheek by jowl together.
Lavishness can't keep in step
Avarice his brother.
Virtue, even in the most
Unusual moderation,
Seeking for the middle course,
Vice on either side it, must
Look about her with the most
Cautious contemplation.

Trans. Helen Waddell, in Medićval Latin Lyrics (New York: Holt, 1948), 188-89, which Gaddis has identified as his source (WG/SM).

648.28] Azigazi pozitiv filozofia: The True Positive Philosophy (1896) by Hungarian scholar Samuel Brassai. (The title should be spelled Az igazi pozitiv filozófia: Gaddis's spelling is from the article on Hungarian literature in EB, which is the source for the other Hungarian material that follows.)

648.29] Móricz, side by side with Gárdonyi?: "The realistic [Hungarian] novelists found a successor in Sigismond Móricz [1879-1942], whose preoccupation with brutish peasants and corrupt petty tradesmen reflect[s] his political tendencies. His work is the antithesis of that of idealistic novelists such as Géza Gárdonyi (d. 1923) and Cécile Tormay" (EB 11:897).

648.32] A Véres költö [...] Kosztolányi: Dezso Kosztolányi (1885-1936), Hungarian poet and writer. His A Véres költö (1924; English trans. The Bloody Poet, 1927) is a novel about Nero; aspiring to be the preeminent poet, he kills all his artistic rivals.

648.34] Bródy [...] Faust orvos, his Don Quixote kisasszony: Sándor Bródy (1863-1924), Hungarian writer. His Doctor Faust dates from 1910, his Miss Don Quixote from 1905.

649.26] Demotic: a simplified form of ancient Egyptian hieratic writing.

649.26] Saite period: the Thirty-fourth and Thirty-sixth Egyptian dynasties (718-712, 663-525 B.C.).

650.14] the present regime [...] restore the monarchy of the Hapsburgs: the Hapsburg-Lorraine house ruled Austria-Hungary from 1848 to 1918, when Charles I abdicated. He made two unsuccessful attempts to regain the throne in 1921, and after World War II there were those (like Valentine) who hoped to see the monarchy restored. Hungary was declared a republic in 1946.

650.22] Pázmány: Péter Pázmány (1570-1637), Hungarian Roman Catholic prelate and writer, leader of the counterreformation in Hungary.

651.7] De Omni Sanguine Christi Glorificato: "In 1405, while still unconscious of any opposition to Catholicism, Huss published his De Omni Sanguine Christi Glorificato, in which he declaimed against forged miracles and ecclesiastical greed, and urged Christians to desist from looking for sensible signs of Christ's presence, but rather to seek Him in His enduring word" (EB 11:942). Cf. 412.1-4.

652.11] prophecies contained in the Great Pyramid of Cheops: see 662.15.

652.26] Molnár [...] Liliom: Ferenc Molnár (1878-1952), Hungarian playwright. His Liliom (1909), a dramatic mystery play, was the basis of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical Carousel (1945).

652.39] Mikszáth, Szent Peter esernyoje: Kálmán Mikszáth (1847-1910), Hungarian novelist. Saint Peter's Umbrella (1895; Eng. trans. 1962) centers on a tattered red umbrella that is mysteriously placed over a priest's infant sister to protect her from a rainstorm. The townsfolk assume it was placed there by Saint Peter himself (actually by an old wandering Jew), and the umbrella is soon invested with miraculous properties and later becomes part of a disputed will.

653.14] Székesfehérvár: a large city in Hungary, the coronation and burial place of Hungarian kings from the tenth to the sixteenth century.

653.32] Kerkel: "Köchel," that is, a work of Mozart's as catalogued by Ludwig von Köchel.

656.2] Mais cette [...] Pas si bęte: "But that painting there, I want to buy it, you know, but the price! . . . of course it is a Memlinc, granted, but the price he's asking is foolish!" "You're telling me . . ." (This Memlinc is not an original but Wyatt's art-school imitation: see 74.30 ff.)

656.38] surrounded by shades: the first of many allusions in this chapter to Dante's Inferno.

657.6] Ganymede: Zeus's boy cupbearer.

657.43] Tuthmosis [...] Ikhnaton [...] let his politics go out the window: these details are from the article on Egyptian history in EB (8:72-73).

658.29] Lord [...] dug up old King Tut: Howard Carter and his patron Lord Carnarvon were the first to uncover the tomb of Egyptian king Tutankhamen (1922).

658.30] Tutankhamen [...] son of [...] Ikhnaton: actually, son-in-law.

659.19] Con permiso, seńor [...] nada, gracias: "Excuse me, sir. Do you know Mr. Brown?" [...] "Nothing . . . nothing, thanks."

659.20] Ifřrt den uovervinnelige rustning: Norwegian: "Arrayed in the invincible suit of armor" - evidently a scrap of poetry.

659.25] Oui, ŕ vendre [...] tendresse: "Yes, to sell privately, you know, at the price of a restoration of . . . Hubert van Eyck." "Memlinc, of course. [...] Strength, you see, but also . . . tenderness."

659.33]   Roughly, .00000000000000000000000006624:  "The numbers are supposed to be the Planck constant, the proportionality between the energy of a photon and its frequency.  It is unlikely that a scientist would have expressed it as the clumsy decimal 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 6624.  Today's more accurately measured value is a little over 6.626 × 10 -27 erg-second.  In the text, the first number is too large by a factor of ten, the second number has the correct number of zeroes." {Robert L. Riemer}   

659.43] R.A.: Royal Academician, that is, a member of England's Royal Academy of Arts.

660.23] et surtout, vous savez: "and especially, you know."

660.26] Prussian blue [...] eighteenth-century color: Laurie notes this on p. 121 of The Technique of the Great Painters.

660.44] what Michel-Ange has to say about these painters [...] vraie harmonie: Michelangelo's harsh criticism of Flemish art, as reported by Portuguese artist Francesco de Holanda, is recorded in WMA (244; Crémer's quotation is italicized):

"Flemish painting pleases all the devout better than Italian. The latter evokes no tears, the former makes them weep copiously. This is not a result of the merits of this art; the only cause is the extreme sensibility of the devout spectators. The Flemish pictures please women, especially the old and very young ones, and also monks and nuns, and lastly men of the world who are not capable of understanding true harmony. In Flanders they paint, before all things, to render exactly and deceptively the outward appearance of things. The painters choose, by preference, subjects provoking transports of piety, like the figures of saints or of prophets. But most of the time they paint what are called landscapes with plenty of figures. Though the eye is agreeably impressed, these pictures have neither art nor reason; neither symmetry nor proportion; neither choice or values nor grandeur. In short, this art is without power and without distinction; it aims at rendering minutely many things at the same time, of which a single one would have sufficed to call forth a man's whole application."

661.19] On va faire des zigzags: "He's making zigzags."

661.36] Faust [...] a sort of bop version: cf. Orson Welles's Time Runs (1950), a stage production based in part on Marlowe's Doctor Faustus with music by Duke Ellington. It played in Paris while Gaddis was living there.

662.6] Kuvetli: cf. Turkish küvvetli (strong, powerful).

662.15] prophecies contained in the Great Pyramid [...] final woe at last: from Worth Smith's Miracle of the Ages: The Great Pyramid (Holyoke, MA: Elizabeth Towne, 1934), a cranky argument that the pyramid of Cheops contains biblical prophecies. Writing in 1934, Smith wrote, "The final phase of the second portion of the prophecy is to be fulfilled on September 16, 1936, in a wonderful way by humanity's entrance into the King's Chamber" (chap. 8), then goes on to predict, "The final 'woe' will begin August 20, 1953" (chap. 9). Hence, Kuvetli's statement "it is only last year we have entered the period of final woe" would place this scene on Christmas Eve, 1954, in contradiction to the chronology established by Steven Moore elsewhere.

663.24] Racinien [...] qu'en France: "Racinian [in the classical manner of French dramatist Jean Racine (1639-99)], you know . . . leaning toward that taste. The instinct of . . . of Atticism, if you will. Like Corot, like Seurat, you know, it is Racinian. As I have written, the supreme flower of French genius and which could grow only in France." Georges Seurat (1859-91): French neo-impressionist painter.

664.27] Quelle drôlerie!: "What nonsense!"

664.35] Ah mais oui, mais [...] c'est charmant: "Oh but yes, but . . . it's charming."

665.15] Martin Schoongauer's etchings: also known as Martin Schön (1445?-91), German engraver and painter, reputed to be the greatest engraver of the fifteenth century. He is mentioned in passing in VEF.

665.32] bien entendu, les visage de la Vierge: "of course, the Virgin's face."

665.38] Un sacrilčge [...] Résurrection: repeated (with slight variation) from 74.25.

666.12] Il va sans dire [...] faux: "It goes without saying, [...] everybody knows the great paintings of Goya that one finds in the Jockey Club of Buenos Aires are . . . fake." See 631.13.

666.16] Madonna of the Rocks: the central panel of Leonardo da Vinci's altar painting for the Church of Saint Francesco in Milan; it exists today in two versions, one in the Louvre and one in London's National Gallery.

666.24] portraits of Doctor Arnolfini and his wife: see 124.1.

670.20] Coulanges [...] pictures are bullion: repeated from 73.8.

670.39] disciplined nostalgia: see 335.38.

671.33] Aprčs tout, chargé de défendre: "After all, self-defense."

672.42] The female of Papilo cynorta, in the Uganda: from EB's article on mimicry (15:517).

673.30] Et ce vieux moricaud . . . oů se cathe-t-il?: "And the old darkie . . . where is he hiding himself?"

673.39] Men den himmelske rustning: Norwegian: "But the heavenly armor. . . ."; apparently from the same source as the line quoted at 659.20.

674.29] Ravel, L'Enfant et les Sortilčges: The Child and the Sorceries (1925; also known as The Bewitched Child), a short opera by French composer Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) with libretto by Colette.

674.32] Don [...] the Spanish fellow: Cervantes's Don Quixote.

675.11] son métier: "his business."

675.27] all of a piece, as Dryden puts it: from English poet and dramatist John Dryden's (1631-1700) "Secular Masque" (1700), l. 86.

676.21] devil, wearing false calves [...] Mephistopheles: the devil appears in the Witch's Kitchen disguised (ll. 2149-54):

Tail, talons, horns, are nowhere to be traced!
As for the foot, with which I can't dispense,
'Twould injure me in company, and hence,
Like many a youthful cavalier,
False calves I now have worn for many a year.

"An allusion," explains Cyrus Hamlin (editor of the Norton Critical Edition), "to the eighteenth-century practice among men of padding their stockings to make their calves appear more muscular" (61, n.8).

678.13] that grimpen [...] where is no secure foothold: a quotation from Eliot's "East Coker" (which in turn quotes the opening of Dante's Inferno):

We are only undeceived
Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.
In the middle, not only in the middle of the way
But all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble,
On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold,
And menaced by monsters, fancy lights,
Risking enchantment.

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