|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions
Preface to Revised Edition
Fifteen years have passed since the first edition of this book was published (University of Nebraska Press, 1982), and during those years I have been gathering materials for what I hoped would be a second edition. The discovery of several more of Gaddis's source books - especially Haggard's Devils, Drugs and Doctors and Saltus's Anatomy of Negation - enabled me to plug many gaps and clarify other references, as did my realization that Gaddis used the Encyclopædia Britannica, Baedeker's Spain and Portugal, and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations much more extensively than I first imagined. I have also benefitted from a few Gaddis critics who wrote to offer suggestions and corrections - specifically Marc Chénetier, Rodger Cunningham, and Joseph Tabbi - though I had hoped to hear from more. (Gaddis himself wrote me a long letter clarifying many points, though his remarks, he said, were "not exhaustive.") At any rate, the annotations are much fuller and more precise than the previous edition, though a few untraced references remain to bedevil me.
For this edition, I have focused solely on the annotations. Gone are the introduction and appendices to the first edition, and the plot synopsis has been broken up and scattered to introduce each chapter. (The synopses retain the dating I first arrived at in my "Chronological Difficulties in the Novels of William Gaddis," though I now feel it is too literal-minded to accommodate Gaddis's more flexible temporal structure.) Many of the sources I originally cited were later, revised editions (Love in the Western World, Psychology and Alchemy, The White Goddess), which I thought would be more accessible to Gaddis scholars, but I have changed those to refer to the editions Gaddis actually used. Gone too are the cross-references to the Avon edition of The Recognitions, which in 1982 was the only edition available. Thankfully, a corrected Penguin edition seems to be here to stay, so all references are to that edition. (The Penguin edition has the same pagination as the first edition, as do the Meridian and British editions of 1962 and the Harvest edition of 1970, so my page/line references correspond to every edition of The Recognitions except for the Avon, a textually corrupt edition that should be shunned by Gaddis scholars.) The original edition's bibliography of Gaddis criticism, which listed everything that had been written on The Recognitions at that time, has been confined to those works actually cited in the annotations. I have also altered the method of indicating ellipses; since Gaddis uses them so extensively, it is necessary to distinguish his from mine, so bracketed, unspaced ellipses like this [...] indicate mine, while his are left spaced, as in the text, like this. . . . For consistency, this practice has been followed in other works cited.-Steven Moore