|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions
Pages 63-77; ca. 1938
It is three years later when we come upon Wyatt in Paris in the late 1930s. Before Paris, he had studied art in Munich under a Herr Koppel who, in addition to giving Wyatt good aesthetic advice (recalled on p. 89) also sells one of Wyatt's paintings surreptitiously as a rediscovered Memling (70, 74-75). Later references will be made to Wyatt's companion at that time, a fellow art student named Han. (In a section cut from the final version of the novel Han was represented as a brutal homosexual. On an excursion to the Jungfrau in Switzerland [see 93, 878], Han attempted to seduce Wyatt, who went to Paris as a result.)
Indifferent to the Montmartre tourist art, Wyatt works alone, mostly at night, occasionally using a model named Christiane. Shortly before a showing of his paintings, Wyatt is visited by an art critic named Crémer, who offers a favorable review of his work in exchange for 10 percent of anything "they" sell. Wyatt of course refuses, gets a bad review, and consequently none of his work sells. After learning that his Memling imitation has been "rediscovered" as an original, he decides to have nothing further to do with the art world and leaves Paris in the same spirit that the alchemist Raymond Lully left the beautiful but cancerous Ambrosia de Castello seven centuries earlier.