|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions|
I.3 pp. pages 124-153
124.1] van Eyck [...] Arnolfini's wife: the famous Arnolfini marriage portrait by Jan van Eyck (1434).
124.6] Cicero's Paradoxa [...] Praxiteles: see 57.20 for Praxiteles, where Rev. Gwyon alludes to the same anecdote (from GAF 41):
In Paradoxa, a collection of philosophical thoughts called Socratic in style by Cicero [106-43 B.C.], [...] Cicero has the courage to write the following paragraph in defense of Carneades, who maintained that a head of a Faun had been found in the raw marble of a quarry at Chios:
"One calls the thing imaginary, a freak of chance, just as if marble could not contain the forms of all kinds of heads, even those of Praxiteles. It is a fact that these heads are made by taking away the superfluous marble, and in modelling them even a Praxiteles does not add anything of his own, because when much marble has been taken away one reaches the real form, and we see the accomplished work which was there before. This is what may have happened in the quarry of Chios."
Nobili ridicules such an attitude, but Wyatt approves and adds Cicero's questionable aesthetics to his own concept of "recognition."
124.11] The disciple [...] his master [...] Saint Luke: Luke 6:40. Berenson quotes this verse in his discussion of the "originality of incompetence" (A&H 170); his views are consonant with (if not the source of) Herr Koppel's opinion of originality quoted by Wyatt earlier (89.23-22). Hughes notes that Luke was "the patron of painters" (W 37).
124.24] the force and the flaw [...] recreate the atmosphere: an editorial intern at Harcourt named David Chandler wrote a reader's report on R in which he stated: "[In this section,] what I expect to be the ultimate problem of the book exposes itself thoroughly. The problem, which is at once the force and the flaw of the novel, arises from the thoroughness with which Gaddis feels obligated to recreate his atmosphere" (quoted in Koenig's "'Splinters from the Yew Tree,'" 43). Apparently Gaddis liked the phrase and incorporated it into his manuscript. Cf. 460.15-21.
124.26] Memling: see 70.35.
125.2] a lovely passage [...] of Katherine Mansfield's: (1888-1923), New Zealand-born short-story writer; the "lovely passage" (a favorite of Gaddis's, quoted thrice in R and once in J R) is given at 304.38-40.
125.16] Kant: Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), German philosopher, a great influence on Fichte, and best known for his Critique of Pure Reason. "Quiddity" means essence.
125.29] homunculus: see 262.17.
126.3] Suite Number One in C Major of Bach: an orchestra suite for woodwinds, strings, and continuo (of unknown date); a bright, ebullient piece.
127.35] I am the man for whom Christ died: the source of this sobering thought (repeated at 348.24-25 and 440.25), if not a theological commonplace, is uncertain.
128.26] a portrait of a lady [...] Lorenzo di Credi: (ca. 1456-1537), Florentine painter, a pupil of Verrocchio. In 1497 he burned many of his paintings on secular subjects, but two paintings entitled Portrait of a Lady are extant (one in Florence, one in Forlì). Both are reproduced between pp. 24-25 of Osvald Sirén's Leonardo da Vinci: The Artist and the Man (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1916); however, the portrait Esther describes is a different one reproduced next to them entitled Supposed Portrait of Ginerva Benci, attributed to an anonymous "Florentine master." Sirén discusses it in the context of Lady of the Junipers (see 168.10 below).
130.7] Pyrrho of Elis: (365-275? B.C.), Greek skeptic philosopher; Otto repeats the anecdote (from LEP 9) on 466.
130.38] Suffering [...] more refined state: see 530.14.
131.10] Zosimus: (fl. third century A.D.), Gnostic alchemist, apparently the first to use Hermes (see below). His writings combine laboratory directions with much mystical symbolism. (Zosimus and all the alchemists that follow are named in IP and/or Gaddis's two other major sources for alchemy: EB's article "Alchemy" [1:534-37] and Mackay's EPD ["The Alchymists," 98-256].)
131.10] Albertus Magnus: (1193? or 1206?-80), German scholastic philosopher, theologian, and scientist, one of the major figures in medieval alchemy (IP 247); canonized in 1931. See also 132.8-12 below.
131.10] Geber: Jabir ibn-Hayyan (fl. 721-76), Arab alchemist, one of the first to believe base materials could be transmuted into nobler ones, though his books are more noted for their metaphysics than their chemistry (IP 206, 217; EPD 102-3). As with Albertus Magnus, several works ascribed to Geber are forgeries; the practice of ascribing a work to a past master was as common with the alchemists as it was with early Christian writers.
131.10] Bernhardus Trevisanus: Bernard of Trèves (as he is called below)(1406-90) devoted his entire life and fortune to alchemy but only experienced repeated failure.
131.11] Basilius Valentinus: although alleged to have been a Benedictine monk who lived in Saint Peter's cloister in Erfut in the early fifteenth century, "Basil Valentine" is now known to be a pseudonym, probably of Johann Thölden, who published the works ascribed to Valentine. The most important of the many writings ascribed to him - all of which show a great debt (approaching plagiary at times) to Paracelsus - is The Triumphal Car (or Chariot) of Antimony (see 384.3).
131.11] Raymond Lully: see 77.21. As with the other alchemists, many of the works ascribed to Lully were the works of disciples. A quotation from his Codicillus (via IP) stands as the epigraph to I.7 (222).
131.11] Khalid ben Yezid: (635-704), an Omayyad prince, one of the earliest Arab writers on alchemy, said to have been a pupil of the Syrian monk Morienus; cited by Jung (IP 218-19).
131.11] Hermes Trismegistus: "Thrice-great Hermes," the name given to the alleged author of a large body of alchemical, mystical, and occult writings that were actually written by Greeks in ancient Alexandria. Jung calls Hermes "the Thoth of Hermetic literature," aligning him with the Egyptian god of writing (IP 88), identified with the Greek god Hermes.
131.17] Bernard of Trèves and an unnamed Franciscan are pictured seeking the universal solvent: not a reference to an actual illustration (as I first assumed) but to Mackay's prose sketch of Bernard: "Among all the crowd of pretended men of science who surrounded him, there was but one as enthusiastic and as disinterested as himself. With this man, who was a monk of the order of St. Francis, he contracted an intimate friendship and spent nearly all his time. [...] They afterwards imagined that there was a marvellous virtue in all excrement, especially the human, and actually employed more than two years in experimentalising upon it with mercury, salt, and molten lead!" (EPD 132).
131.27] Chemā: this myth is related in EB 's discussion of the various legends accounting for the origin of alchemy.
131.43] Michael Majer [...] the image of God: Majer (or Mayer, Maier; 1568-1622) was a German physician, composer, and voluminous writer on alchemy. Gaddis paraphrases Jung's paraphrase of a passage in Majer's De Circulo physico quadrato (1616):
The sun has spun the gold in the earth by many millions of rotations around it. The sun has gradually imprinted in the earth its image, which is the gold. The sun is the image of God, and the heart is the image of the sun in man. Gold is the sun's image in the earth, and is also called deus terrenus; God can be recognized in the gold. This image of God appearing in gold is no doubt the anima aurea, which, instilled into ordinary quicksilver, changes it into gold. (IP 246)
132.8] Albertus Magnus [...] seven exposures to fire: the skeptical "Albertus Magnus in his De Mineralibus - the De Alchemia attributed to him is spurious - stated that alchemy cannot change species but merely imitates them - for instance, colours a metal white to make it resemble silver or yellow to give it the appearance of gold. He has, he adds, tested gold made by alchemists, and found that it will not withstand six or seven exposures to fire" (EB 1:536).
132.12] a book on the care of child-bearing mothers [...] alive long enough for baptism: "In the medieval times religion took over the supervision of the prostitutes and the oversight of the practices of the midwives," Dr. Haggard notes. "Thus the Dominican monk, Albertus Magnus (Albert von Bollstädt, 1193-1280), wrote a book for the guidance of midwives, and the Church councils passed edicts on their practices. These instructions were not, however, for the better care of the child-bearing woman, for the relief of her suffering or the prevention of her death. They were designed to save the child's life for a sufficient time to allow it to be baptized" (DDD 27).
132.20] Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim ("better known as Paracelsus"): (1493-1541), German physician and alchemist, whose interest in alchemy was more medical than metaphysical. DDD (345-49, 367) is Gaddis's source for the colorful details of Paracelsus' life.
132.28] Doctor Ehrlich: Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915), German chemist and immunologis, who developed Salvarsan, the first successful remedy for syphilis. It is an arsenic combination, which replaced the more toxic combinations previously used; the name 606 comes from the fact that it was the 606th combination of ingredients in a long series tested. It was put on the market in 1910, and eventually replaced by penicillin 35 years later. [Christine Rink]
133.1] ignis noster: "'our' fire (ignis noster), the philosophical or mercurial fire, and which is thus distinguished from the common one" (IP 209).
133.22] Saint Lucy holds in that Ferrara painting: a portrait by Francesco del Cossa (1435-77), Italian painter of the Ferrarese school. A striking reproduction can be seen in Fern Rusk Shapley's Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools XIII-XV Century (London: Phaidon, 1966), vol. 1, fig. 223.
133.24] the swollen owl [...] watching Saint Jerome: probably Bosch's Saint Jerome in Prayer (ca. 1505, Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent).
133.44] Adolphe: a novel (1815) by French writer Benjamin Constant (1767-1830). It foreshadows the modern psychological novel in its examination of the relationship between Adolphe, a young man, and Ellénore, a count's mistress (which has its parallel in the relationship between Otto and Esther). "The point here of course is that Otto has not read it & is vainly & sublimely unaware of the parallel" (WG/SM).
135.17] that dog's following us: as earlier critics have noted, a deliberate echo of Faust 799-829, where Mephistopheles appears in the guise of a black poodle. The following scene ("Study") opens with the poodle entering with Faust, as Brown's poodle does with Wyatt.
136.6] Handel's [...] Judas Maccabaeus: first produced in London in 1747, libretto (in English) by Thomas Morrell, concerning the exploits of the second-century B.C. Jewish rebel.
136.8] Lo the conqueror comes: the high point of the oratorio, this majestic chorus was originally written for a different oratorio.
136.26] The equation [...] greater than 2: see 361.20-23.
137.25] “The first discovery” [...] foretelling things to come”: from Herman Kirchenhoffer’s introductory essay in Napoleon’s Book of Fate (1822), a fortune-telling book allegedly translated from an ancient scroll found in an Egyptian tomb, and translated for Napoleon who (again, allegedly) often consulted the oracle. This popular work has gone through countless editions; Matt Richards found it online: http://thekove.tripod.com/Oracle.ancient.html.
137.39] brandy: included in the necessary accessories to the "Grand Conjuration" (below), according to Waite, is "half a bottle of brandy" (243).
137.43] I A O, I A E: variants of the Hebrew tetragrammaton (YHWH), used in a variety of magic formulas. See next note.
139.1] I A O, I A E, in the name of the father [...] opsakion aklana thalila i a o, i a e: "Matthew vii.22 indicates that it was not long before many outside the pale of the Church used Jesus's name in their exorcisms: [...] In some of the magical papyri lately discovered in Egypt we find the name of Jesus so invoked. I adduce one such incantation from an ancient source, wherein also the demon is addressed in his own tongue: -
139.10] Remigius' Demonolatria: a 1595 study by Nicholas Remy (Lat. Remigius, 1530-1612), a French magistrate. Similar in many respects to MM (and likewise translated into English by Montague Summers), it is even more lurid and credulous.
139.11] Libro dell' Arte: see 83.22.
139.15] Emperor [...] by the power of the grand ADONAY [...] P. M. S.: a conjuration of Emperor Lucifer (or "thy Messenger Astarôt") from the Grand Grimoire, as recorded in Arthur Edward Waite's The Book of Ceremonial Magic (London: Rider, 1911), 248-49. (The initials, it will be noticed, are those of the individual names.) Part 2 of Waite's study, in which this invocation appears, is entitled "The Complete Grimoire," based on the Grimorium Verum (see 83.24), the Key of Solomon (Goethe's source for Faust's conjuration [ll. 1271 ff.]), and similar works. This particular spell is entitled "Grand Conjuration: Extracted from the Veritable Clavicle," supposedly one of the most potent invocations.
140.2] Damned . . . animal out of hell: Wyatt's asides to the dog during the preceding pages parallel those of Faust to the poodle Mephistopheles (ll. 838 ff.).
140.28] Recktall Brown: the name puns raunchily on the Freudian connection between money and anality; collectors are usually classified as anal-retentives.
141.11-12] You’d think I was wicked as hell, even if what I do for them turns out good: Mephistopheles to Faust in Goethe‘s Faust. Der Tragödie erster Teil (Faust I), Faust's Study 1335 - 1336.
Mephistopheles. Ein Teil von jener Kraft,
144.28] Saint Paul tells us to redeem time: see Eph. 5:15-16 ("See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil") and/or Col. 4:5 ("Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time"). Both letters were traditionally ascribed to Paul, but their authenticity is now in doubt. Eliot too tells us to redeem the time in part 4 of "Ash Wednesday."
145.14] Master of the Magdalene Legend: a "second-rate" painter of the late fifteenth century, so named for "a couple of panels with scenes from the legend of Mary Magdalen, which were exhibited at Bruges" (VEF 268-69).
146.29] "Most people make a practice [...] Libro dell' Arte: see 83.22; the quotation is adapted from chap. 96 of Daniel Thompson's translation The Craftsman's Handbook: The Italian "Il Libro dell' Arte" (1933), 60-61.
147.31] Dog Days: fictitious.
148.26] vanity of time: from Rev. Gwyon's sermon: see 41.16.
149.2] prima materia: the unresolved, unredeemed, chaotic state - of man or mineral - at which the alchemical process begins; Jung associates the term with elements from the unconscious striving to be integrated into consciousness.
149.4] "For me an image slumbers in the stone," said Zarathustra: from Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, quoted by Jung as an alchemical metaphor (IP 228).
152.10] animal ecstasies: cf. "the ecstasy of the animals" in Eliot's "Marina."
152.13] Saint John Baptist [...] leaping for joy in his mother's womb: Luke 1:41.
152.16] he stands steady in a camel's hair loincloth [...] upbraiding the flesh: see the third chapter of Matthew.
152.23] My God, why dost thou shame me: cf. Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34 (quoting Ps. 22:1); "forsaken" in most translations.
152.24] an epileptic tent-maker: Saint Paul (see Acts 18:1-3).
152.36] Mozart's, the Concerto Number Seven in F Major: a 1776 composition (K.242; now called #3), generally considered the least interesting of his early piano concerti.
153.7] penknife in the heart: the penknife recalls "The Man of Double Deed" (99.13) and foreshadows Wyatt's use of Brown's penknife on Valentine at the end of II.8.
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