Preface

Abbreviated Sources
and References


Annotations: title,
epigraph and
dedication


Part I
I.1 Synopsis
pp. 3-21
pp. 23-28
pp. 29-46
pp. 47-62
I.2 Synopsis
pp. 63-68
pp. 69-77
I.3 Synopsis
pp. 78-93
pp. 94-123
pp. 124-153
I.4 Synopsis
pp. 154-168
I.5 Synopsis
pp. 169-187
pp. 188-201
I.6 Synopsis
pp. 202-221
I.7 Synopsis
pp. 222-256
pp. 257-277

Part II

Part III

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

      Index    

I.2 pp. pages 69-77

69.12] resurrection: Gaddis's blasphemous use of "resurrection" for an erection may have been inspired by Boccaccio; in his essay "Old Foes with New Faces," Gaddis cites a tale from the Decameron (day 3, story 10) in which a naive girl, seduced by a monk, "marvels at the unfamiliar resurrection of the flesh thrusting forth" (RSP 102). There is a passing reference to Boccaccio later in R (858.17).

69.15] (what became of the man who was raised?): upon being raised from the dead (John 11:44), Lazarus is regarded by the Jewish chief priests as a contributing factor in Jesus' popularity and consequently they decide to do away with him (12:10-11). Whether this was carried out is left unsaid. Huizinga comments: "Nothing betrays more clearly the excessive fear of death felt in the Middle Ages than the popular belief, then widely spread, according to which Lazarus, after his resurrection, lived in a continual misery and horror at the thought that he should have again to pass through the gate of death" (WMA 131-32).

69.34] melancholia of things completed: see 599.5.

69.37] Où allez-vous donc? [...] vous savez: "Where are you going then?" "Home." "Your papers, please." "My passport? I don't have it on me, it's at home." "Where do you live?" "Twenty-four rue de la Bourse." "What do you do?" "I'm a painter." "Where?" "At home." "Where do you live?" "But . . ." "Do you have means?" "Yes . . ." "OK, you should always have some on you, money, you know. . . ."

70.4] Crémer: although there was a minor alchemist named John Cremer (said to have lived in the fourteenth century) - WG expressed surprise at this (WG/SM) - Rodger Cunningham is probably correct in suggesting Crémer is a Frenchified version of German Kramer, merchant, specifically a shifty, petty shopkeeper.

70.14] La Macule: Fr.: the stain, blot, blemish; also, blind spot.

70.29] Van Eyck: the brothers Van Eyck, Hubert and Jan (fl. fifteenth century), will be noted later (249 ff.).

70.31] Roger de la Pasture [...] Van der Weyden: (1400-64), one of the major artists of the fifteenth century in Flanders and one of the few equals of Jan Van Eyck. Conway notes: "Being a French-speaking person, he would not have called himself 'Van der Weyden,' but 'de la Pasture'" (VEF 129; chap. 11 of Conway's study concerns him). Rogier de la Pasture Flemicized his name and became known as Rogier van der Weyden when he moved from French-speaking Tournai to Flemish speaking Brussels to become town painter in 1435. [JSc/SM]

70.35] Memling: Hans Memling (or Memlinc, d. 1494), Flemish painter, probably employed in Van der Weyden's workshop. His calm and pious pictures and his excellent portraits are in the style of van der Weyden and Dirk Bouts and show little originality. See chap. 17 of VEF. [JSc/SM]

70.37] Gheerardt David's painting The Flaying of the Unjust Judge: Flemish painter (d. 1523), last master of the Bruges school. The Flaying of the Unjust Judge is the second half of a diptych called The Story of Sisamnes, in which King Cambyses (sixth century B.C.) punishes Sisamnes the judge for his corruption.

71.11] Degas [...] his remark [...] criminal commits his deed: Edgar Degas (18341917), French painter. In Thomas Mann's preface to The Short Novels of Dostoevsky, he writes that Nietzsche felt "all intellectual isolation and alienation from the civil norm, all mental autonomy and ruthlessness, are related to the criminal's mode of life and afford an experiential insight into it. It seems to me that we can go even farther and say that all creative originality, all artistry in the widest sense of the word, does just that. The French painter and sculptor Degas once made the remark that the artist must approach his work in the same frame of mind in which the criminal commits his deed." (NY: Dial Press, 1945, p. xii). [Keith McMullen]

71.34] I could guarantee you excellent reviews: a similar offer was made to Han Van Meegeren (1889-1947), a forger much in the news when R was being written, and whose career Gaddis used as a model for Wyatt's. Frustrated at the critical neglect of his own work, Van Meegeren over a period of ten years in the 1930s and 1940s forged several Vermeers (supposedly dating from a gap in Vermeer's life) that completely fooled the critics and were sold at prices befitting rediscovered old masters. When for political reasons Van Meegeren finally confessed, the red-faced critics denied he had the talent to forge such works; materials were brought to his prison cell, and there he forged another for the benefit of these critics. Van Meegeren died in jail shortly thereafter. Both his technical accomplishments - especially reproducing chemically the aging process a seventeenth-century painting would have undergone - and his "spiritual" identification with Vermeer were adapted by Gaddis as components in Wyatt's approach to his own forgeries. For a fuller discussion, see Tom Sawyer's "False Gold to Forge: The Forger behind Wyatt Gwyon," Review of Contemporary Fiction 2.2 (Summer 1982): 50-54.

72.3] minuterie: In older French apartment houses, lights on each landing were turned on as you reached it; it would stay on for one minute only and then go out. It was an electricity-saving device, giving light for long enough to get out your keys or move up to the next landing.. Americans living in Paris in the time of Gaddis were charmed by the device and it was a frequent subject in conversations. Cremer reaches the floor, turns on the minuiterie, and is suddenly illuminated. But in a minute he will be in the dark again. [CM]

72.14] Il faut [...] savez: "You should always have some on you, money, you know" - repeated from 69.40-41.

72.25] J. L. David: Jacques Louis David (1748-1825), French painter. An ardent Bonapartist, he painted Napoleon Crossing the Alps as well as the famous Coronation (72.28). On the Romanization of Napoleon's Paris, Nobili notes with scorn: "Yet faking passes from the field of art to that of real life, the new Republic apes Roman customs. David the artist is faked into a Tribune while busy painting Romans that seem to have been brought out of a hot-house and he sketches semi-Roman costumes for the new officials of the Republic, garments that with all the foppishness of the 'old regime' had Roman Consular swords, Imperial chlamys (mantle), faked buskins or ornamented cothurnus (boots worn by tragedians)" (GAF 133).

72.28] Josephine doing her very best [...] to look above suspicion: cf. Nobili: "One of the late Rothschilds [...] used to say that all the objects of his collection were, like Cæsar's wife, above suspicion" (GAF 152).

72.32] Constantine's Rome [...] gods in ivory and gold: the Rome of Constantinople I the Great (ruled 306-37); the municipal details are from GAF 44-45.

72.37] Pope Urban VIII had declared the Coliseum a public quarry: though there were laws prohibiting the export of Roman art objects out of the city, "the best buildings in Rome were allowed to fall into utter ruin without a protest. This state of things reached the climax of absurdity in the seventeenth century when Urban VIII, of the Barberini family, declared the Coliseum a public quarry, where the citizens might go for the stones they needed for new constructions - an act still commemorated in the protest of all lovers of art with the proverbial pun, Quod non fecerunt barbari fecerunt Barberini (What barbarians did not do, the Barberini did)" (GAF 105).

72.41] Cardinal Mazarin [...] et qui m'ont tante couté: Nobili devotes a chapter to the unique collection of French statesman Jules Mazarin (1602-61); during his final illness, he said farewell to his precious collection: "'Good-bye, dear paintings that I have loved so much, that have cost me so high a price!'" (GAF 121; the French original is given in a succeeding paragraph).

72.43] Roman connoisseur could distinguish [...] sardonyx from cheap colored jasper: details noted by Pliny, recorded by Nobili (GAF 51, 58).

73.3] "Un client [...] Fabriquons-en": "A customer wants Corots? There's a shortage on the market? Make some." The hypothetical remark is made in Eudel's Trucs et truqueurs (451), where greed for unobtainable art objects is held responsible for the practice of forgery. (Both Eudel and Nobili censure avaricious, ill-educated art collectors; but for them, there would be no market for fakes.) Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875): French landscape painter.

73.8] As Coulanges said to Madame de Sévigné, - Pictures are bullion: "'Pictures are bullion,' writes the fat Coulanges to his cold-blooded and well-behaved cousin, Mme. de Sévigné, 'you can sell them at twice their price whenever you like'" (GAF 124). Mme. de Sévigné (1626-96), famous for her own letters, corresponded with several members of the illustrious Coulanges family.

73.13] fifty million Frenchmen couldn't be wrong: a remark attributed (in ODQ) to American nightclub hostess Texas Guinan (1884-1933).

73.17] Lutetia: ancient name for Paris, which in Roman times was a collection of mud hovels (Lat. lutum, mud). Caesar called it Lutetia Parisiorum ("mud-town of the Parisii," the tribe that inhabited the area), which was finally shortened to Paris. Cf. 938.36.

73.19] Mnesarete, "Phryne": Mnesarete, nicknamed (and more popularly known as) Phryne ("Toad"), was a famous Athenian courtesan of the fourth century B.C. One of the more famous incidents from her life is recounted below (73.40-41: she was acquitted).

73.26] Millet: Jean François Millet (1814-75), French painter, best known of the Barbizon school.

73.32] their own squalid bohemias [...] handing the original over to their hungry neighbor: Bohemia (Czechoslovakia) was "handed over" to Germany via the Munich Pact (29-30 September 1938), signed by France, Great Britain, Germany, and Italy.

73.33] Maginot Line: a zone of fortifications built along the eastern frontier of France between 1929 and 1934. With this line the French believed they were secure from any threat of German invasion.

73.34] Versailles treaty: signed 28 June 1919; the treaty was punitively harsh on Germany, and on 16 March 1935 Germany formally renounced the clauses concerning disarmament and began building up its forces.

73.35] a German envoy [...] shot in Paris: Ernst vom {sic, not von} Rath, third secretary of the German Embassy in Paris, was shot and killed on 7 November 1938 by a young Polish Jew named Herschel Grynszpan in retaliation for the mistreatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. The assassination led to the notorious Kristallnacht a few days later. (In J R, Gibbs and Eigen use "Grynszpan" as a cover name at their 96th Street apartment.)

73.36] peace pact signed: between France and Germany, that is, on 6 December 1938.

73.38] "Il y a tant [...] jamais": "There are so many saints that they form a bulwark around Paris, through which the zeppelins never pass" - source unknown.

73.44] Saint Bartholomew's Day: 24 August (cf. 75.9-10 below). In light of the subject of the forgery below (74.40), it's worth noting Saint Bartholomew was likewise flayed alive.

74.16] the Madeleine's peripteral imposture: the Madeleine is the popular name for the church of Saint Mary Magdalene, which is built in the style of a Roman temple and surrounded by a majestic Corinthian colonnade ("peripteral" means surrounded by columns).

74.22] Der Fleischflaute: that is, "flesh flute."

74.25] Archaïque [...] Résurrection: "Archaic, hard as rock, derivitive, without heart, without sympathy, without life, finally, a spirit of death without the hope of the Resurrection" (Jack Green's translation). A dozen years later Crémer will say the same thing about Wyatt's final forgery (see 665.38).

74.30] an original painting by Hans Memling: not an original but Wyatt's student imitation (see 70.35-40; 95.15-18; 421.26-27).

74.38] Old Pinakothek: art gallery and museum, destroyed in the Second World, but rebuilt after the war. [JSc/SM]

74.40] Valerian [...] Sapor: from Foxe (BM 21-22):

It is here proper to take notice of the singular but miserable fate of the [Roman] emperor Valerian, who had so long and so terribly persecuted the Christians. This tyrant, by a stratagem, was taken prisoner by Sapor, emperor of Persia, who carried him into his own country, and there treated him with the most unexampled indignity, making him kneel down as the meanest slave, and treading upon him as a footstool when he mounted his horse. After having kept him for the space of seven years in this abject state of slavery, he caused his eyes to be put out, though he was then eighty-three years of age. This not satiating his desire of revenge, he soon after ordered his body to be flayed alive, and rubbed with salt, under which torments he expired [A.D. 267]; and thus fell one of the most tyrannical emperors of Rome, and one of the greatest persecutors of the Christians.

Wyatt associates Valerian with his father (405.6-10, 421.18); Brown later acquires this painting - thinking it genuine (231.32) - from which Wyatt will cut out the figure of Valerian when he leaves for Spain; Valerian is later associated by Ludy (and perhaps by Wyatt as well) with the porter at the Real Monasterio (896.1 ff.). The description of Wyatt's Memling closely matches David's painting (see 70.37), even to the red cloak in the foreground.

75.6] Bouts: Dierick (or Dirk) Bouts (1415?-75), Flemish painter, treated in chap. 12 of VEF. (Die Fleischflaute's rating of Memling over "the minor talents of the Van Eycks, Bouts, Van der Weyden" is an example of uncritical nationalism.)

75.9] Gregory XII [...] heretics: Gregory (pope 1572-85) was a vigorous opponent of Protestantism (from a Catholic viewpoint synonymous with heresy at that time); the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre, beginning in Paris on 24 August 1572, was ordered by Catherine de'Medici and targeted French Huguenots.

75.18] the stye of contentment: from Eliot's poem "Marina": "Those who sit in the stye of contentment, meaning / Death" (ll. 10-11).

75.21] Empress Theodora [...] died of cancer: (508?-48), wife of Justinian I; Gaddis's source was chapter 10 of Percy Neville Ure's Justinian And His Age (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1951), which quotes the 6th-century Byzantine historian Procopius's Secret History for her appearance (200-1) and his History of the Wars for her final statement (213). {Keith McMullen}

75.43] Vous m'emmenez? [...] discrètement: "Take me home? I'm dirty, the dirtiest in Paris. . . . You want to touch it? here? Give me some cash . . . yes, cash, for the touch . . . here . . . discreetly. . . ."

76.24] Je mon foo: Je m'en fous ("screw you").

76.24] Putas, putas, putas: Sp. whores.

76.36] Goddess of Reason: the cult of Reason was the atheistic French revolutionaries' surrogate for Catholicism, and the Goddess of Reason their surrogate for the Virgin; a famous statute of the Goddess of Reason was indeed modeled after a performer from the Opéra.

76.39] Captain de Mun [...] they are hell itself: Albert de Mun (1841-1914), French officer in the Franco-Prussian War and Catholic social reformer. Commenting on the elitist nature of French Catholicism, Marsh gives these extracts from a speech delivered by Captain de Mun in 1873:

"I affirm that the brutal dogma of equality is a lie; I denounce it as a danger. . . . It has given birth to the insane theory according to which all offices ought to be open to all, and that all have the right to participate in the government of the commonwealth. . . . It is not true that the direction of the commonwealth, the exercise of authority, is not the lawful privilege, the hereditary prerogative, of certain classes. . . . After the civil constitution of the clergy, the greatest crime of the Revolution was the abolition of the corporations [trade-guilds which had the exclusive right of exercising their callings, according to their own regulations]. . . . The day will come when the vile horde of revolutionists . . . will be reduced to utter the imprecation of the apostate, 'Galilæan, thou hast conquered.' Ah, for them no mercy; they are not the people, they are hell itself."

(MMSM 113-14; Marsh's ellipses and bracketed note.) The "imprecation" of Julian the Apostate furnishes the epigraph to II.9 (700).

76.41] Liberté, égalité, fraternité: Liberty, equality, brotherhood - the motto of the French Revolution (said to have been suggested by Benjamin Franklin).

77.1] Père Lachaise [...] Byron? Baudelaire?: Paris's largest and most fashionable cemetery, where a great many famous writers, artists, and composers are buried - but neither Byron nor Baudelaire.

77.17] Tribune: the International Herald Tribune, an English-language newspaper published in Paris.

77.17] Al Misri: Arabic daily newspaper, published in Cairo (?1936-54).

77.21] Raymond Lully: anglicized form of Ramón Lull (1235?-1315), Spanish ecclesiastic, philosopher, and alchemist (see 131.11, 222.epigraph). The story of his encounter with Ambrosia de Castello is condensed from EPD 113-14.

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