Annotations to
Carpenter's Gothic
Chapter 4 
by Steven Moore except as [noted]

Carpenter's Gothic
annotations for chapter
1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6 . 7

Abbreviated References
A. Gaddis’ Books

CG: Carpenter’s Gothic. 1985. New York: Penguin, 1999.
FHO: A Frolic of His Own.
New York: Poseidon, 1994.
JR: J R.
1975. New York: Penguin, 1993.
R: The Recognitions.
1955. New York: Penguin, 1993.
B. Gaddis’s Sources
EB: Encyclopædia Britannica. 14th ed., 1929.
ODQ: The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations,
1st ed., 6th impression (London: Oxford University Press, 1949). Gaddis owned this particular impression, given to him by Ormande de Kay in Paris in 1950.
Plato: The Dialogues of Plato. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. New York: Random House, 1937. 2 vols.

98.28] read in the paper somebody put a rattlesnake in somebody’s mailbox:  

100.37] Latin to Calvary: the first two styles illustrated in Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary under the word cross.  

107.12] Crécy: the Battle of Crécy (1346); see 147.12 ff. below.  

114.10] RTO: radiotelephone operator.  

114.13] wailing wall: the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a commemorative wall in Washington, DC, designed by Maya Lin, with the names of Vietnam casualties engraved on polished black stone.  

115.17] Drucker and his bag of ears: another detail from Herr’s Dispatches (34).  

118.16] There’s much more stupidity than there is malice in the world: in his Paris Review interview, Gaddis says this is something his mother once told him (86).  

121.23] ancient belief that all of the cattle in the world belong to them [...] stolen from them long ago: “Before it was forbidden by the colonial governments in the early 1900s, cattle raiding was a popular and useful warrior’s occupation. A cattle people who believe that all the cattle on earth belong to them, the Maasai would go on cattle raids to retrieve herds from other tribes, which they believe must have been taken from them long ago. […] In recent days cattle raiding is no longer a formal, colourful public display, but is instead pure theft. […] Because of their sacred love of cattle, however, the Maasai will always be enemies of any outsider, African or European, who keeps cattle,” (51) the author of the text, himself a former warrior, writes. (See also 121.20 and 84.4, where the face of the Masai reminds Paul of his crew chief.) [AZ]

121.26] a good serviceable fiction: cf. this passage from a book cited in The Recognitions, Hans Vaihinger's The Philosophy of ‘As if’: A System of the Theoretical, Practical and Religious Fictions of Mankind, trans. by C. K. Ogden, (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1924), p. 265: "It is, therefore, only right and proper that to-day, according to our "law of ideational shifts," this petrified dogma [You must regard God as if, just as though, he were your father and as if, just as though, he were present in the heavens as a constant external observer of your actions] is very generally becoming a living conscious fiction once again. Indeed many clergymen (at least in Protestant countries, and not a few elsewhere), when they utter this sentence with their lips, really imply the deeper significance that is so easily lost in the abbreviated form [the as if is shortened to and mistaken as the copula is]. They realize what they are doing and are, in that sense, making use of a permissable and serviceable religious fiction." [JS]

121.29] the Piltdown fraud:  Stephen Jay Gould's "The Piltdown Conspiracy" appears in the same August 1980 issue of Natural History cited above, pp. 8-28 (66.20). See 181.13 ff.

126.26] Geotimes, Journal of Geophysical Research, Science: Geotimes. Newsmagazine of the Earth Sciences, published by the American Geological Institute (AGI) (1956-). Journal of Geophysical Research. An International Quarterly (JGR) published by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) (1949-). Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (1883- ) [AZ]

127.6] the Gregory Rift: a geological gash that runs from Israel to Mozambique. Geologists believe its formation made the evolution of humankind possible.  

127.12] the Leakeys … Lake Rudolf: Louis and Mary Leakey traveled through East Africa from the 1930s through the 1960s, making numerous discoveries regarding the origins of humankind which were published in several books on the subject. Lake Rudolf is now known as Lake Turkana, in Northern Kenya.  Some discussion of the Leakeys work is at
in part 5
, titled Australopithecus boisei (Zinjanthropus boisei—the nutcracker man).  

127.20] Plate Tectonics: probably John M. Bird’s Plate Tectonics: Selected Papers from the “Journal of Geophysical Research” (Washington: American Geophysical Union, 1972).

127.20] Second Gondwana Symposium: there are three books with this title, dating from 1970-72, all dealing with Gondwanaland, a hypothetical land mass said to have once connected South Africa with India.

127.21] Continents Adrift: Continents Adrift: Readings from “Scientific American” (San Francisco: Freeman, 1972) is a collection of fourteen essays on the behavior of the earth’s surface.  

127.22] Runciman’s History of the Crusades [...] where’s one and three: Steven Runciman’s A History of the Crusades, published in three volumes: The First Crusade (1951), The Kingdom of Jerusalem (1952), and The Kingdom of Acre (1954). When I visited Gaddis in August 1984, just as he was finishing CG, I noticed he had vols. 2 and 3 (in the Pelican edition) on his bookshelf. See 187.3 ff.  

127.23] Greek Tragedy: probably H. D. F. Kitto’s Greek Tragedy: A Literary Study (1939; 2nd ed., 1950; 3rd ed., 1961), a classic of the field.  

127.23] Travels in Arabia Deserta:  Charles M. Doughty (1843-1926), English explorer, travel writer, and poet. His famous Travels (1888) recounts his wanderings in North Africa, Syria, and especially Arabia in an unusual style made up of archaisms and arabisms, elevating the travelogue to a kind of metaphysical quest. It was greatly admired by T. E. Lawrence, who wrote an introduction for the 1921 edition. The book is cited also in R (43) and J R (486).

127.24] your man with the grasshoppers [...] Selected Poetry: The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, published in 1938, contains “Wise Men in Their Bad Hours,” which McCandless quotes from below and on p. 161.    

128.15] Luwero Triangle: the area of central Uganda near the capital Kampala. [MR]

128.15] Bagandas:  the people of the kingdom of Buganda, one of several kingdoms from which Uganda was created.  [MR]  See   
for more background information about this and the previous note.

128.17] Second Coming someplace in Missouri with your moronic angel and the golden plates: Mormon mythology claims that an angel named Moroni revealed to Joseph Smith the location of some golden plates that recorded the history of Jesus in America, which he translated as the Book of Mormon. Mormons believe in “a literal gathering to Zion, which by revelation is located in Missouri” (EB 15:810). See 186.26 ff. for more on the Mormons.  

128.21] Portuguese sailing into Mombasa [...] the plantations in Brazil: [this book is referred to later on 187-88, 190-91]  

128.29] Nzinga …: Nzinga Mbemba Affonso, ruler over the Congo kingdom since 1506. He took on the name Affonso after conversion to Christianity at the beginning of the 1490s and reigned for almost 40 years as Affonso I., more and more despairing over the state of his kingdom and invaders' overseas slave trade. [AZ]

129.25] the fool is more dangerous than the rogue [...] Anatole France: French writer (1844-1924); original source unknown, but Gaddis probably adapted it from Oretga y Gasset's Revolt of the Masses : "That is why Anatole France said that the fool is much worse than the knave, for the knave does take a rest sometimes, the fool never" (chap. 8). {Keith McMullen}

130.36] COS: Chief of Station (234.36).  

131.20] Muthaiga Club: Famous Country Club in Nairobi, one-time headquarters of a number of wealthy aristocratic English. (It is also mentioned in Hemingway, e.g. “The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” though spelled Mathaiga) [AZ]

132.8] Pythian Mining: a company from J R.

133.2] the New Stanley: a five star hotel in Nairobi, originally built in 1902, then called the Stanley. In 1958 most of the hotel structure was demolished. After rebuilding the hotel operated under the name the New Stanley only to revert to its old name in 1999. Ernest Hemingway was one famous guest. See also 137.19 and 234.33. [SM/AZ]

134.8] Smackover ... Chemin-couvert: probably from H. L. Mencken’s American Language (1919-23): “French place-names have suffered almost as severely. Few persons would recognize Smackover, the name of a small town in Arkansas, as French, and yet in its original form it was Chemin Couvert.” [CL] 

134.19] Foolishness bound [...] drive it out: Pr. 22:15.  

134.22] And they shall take up serpents: Mark 16:18.  

134.26] the men of Sodom [...] buggery: Gen. 19:4-5.  

134.27] Deuteronomy [...] houses of the Sodomites: there’s a reference to sodomites at Deut. 23:17, but McCandless is quoting 2 Kings 23:7.  

134.28] an abomination in Leviticus: Lev. 18:22.  

134.29] these vile affections in Saint Paul burning in their list to one another: Rom. 1:26-27.  

134.37] Tennessee sixty years ago: John T. Scopes was convicted in 1925 in a highly publicized trial for teaching evolution in a high school in Tennessee in violation of state law.  

135.14] Second Thessalonians [...] First Thessalonians, four, seventeen: Lester is correct.  

135.21] a judge in Georgia [...] proliferation of crimes of all types: Georgia Judge Braswell Deen, quoted in an article in Time magazine, March 16 1981, “Putting Darwin Back in the Dock:. “Scientific” Creationists Challenge the Theory of Evolution” (pp. 50-52). See also 184.7. and 184.7. [AZ]

135.28] Samuel [...] the morning light: 1 Sam. 25:22, 34.  

135.29] Isaiah [...] piss and eating: Isa. 36:12.  

136.19] Pan Koo …The sleeping giant [...] his fleas men and women: a primeval giant in Chinese mythology (also spelled Panku, Pangu, etc.); after dying in his sleep, his corpse gave shape to the universe.  

139.17] to live deliberately: from Thoreau’s Walden (“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately”), quoted by Wyatt/Stephen near the end of R (900). (From Lester’s description, McCandless’s novel sounds like a watered-down version of R.)  

139.2] standing there in Kolwezi hoping for a train: city in the Congolesian province Katanga, where in May 1978 what was called the second Shaba crisis broke out: fears of Katanga's secession from Congo ('Zaire' under Mobutu) -- as in the first Shaba crisis of 1977 -- led to direct French and Belgian intervention in support of Mobutu's army. Hundreds of French paratroopers landed in Kolwezi; according to official explanations this was to save Belgian and French civilians, whose lives were allegedly in danger. There were rumors of massacres of foreign civilians, and several corpses were indeed found in the streets of Kolwezi, but they were later attributed to Mobutu's army. [AZ]

140.5] I’d rather have bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy: a witticism used by songwriter Tom Waits on a 1977 television show that quickly became repeated elsewhere. [Mark Molnar]  

142.31] Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty!: from the first hymn in the Pilgrim Hymnal (Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1935), words by Reginald Heber (1827), music by John B. Dykes (1861).  

142.33] The Son of God [...] streams afar: Pilgrim Hymnal #377, words by Reginald Heber (1827), music by Henry S. Cutler.  

143.9] ten ninety when Hasan brought his cutthroats out of Qum:  

143.23] second book of the Republic: Plato’s longest and most famous dialogue is an inquiry into the nature of justice; the second book of the Republic is quoted in FHO.  

143.25] the Crito [...] wise or a fool: another Platonic dialogue, concerning the validity of doing wrong to defend oneself against a wrong (Socrates argues no); the passage (paraphrased from the Benjamin Jowett translation) occurs at 44d (as the dialogues are traditionally cited).  

144.30] the three secrets of Fatima: during an alleged appearance to three children in Portugal in 1917, Mary emphasized the importance of (1) the practice of penance, (2) the recitation of the Rosary, and (3) devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  

145.11] Kinshasa: Congo river port, part of the former Léopoldville (now?)  

145.13] wicked fleeing where no man pursueth: Pr. 28:1 (as Lester eventually explains).  

146.3] Helen Keller in the woods when the tree falls: the old philosophical question about whether a falling tree makes noise if no one is in the forest to hear it, complicated by the famous deaf and blind woman’s presence.  

147.9] Methuselah lived nine hundred years: actually, 969 years according to Gen. 5:27.  

147.12] the battle of Cressy [...] the beginning of firepower: these details are from EB’s article on the battle (6:653, “Cressy” given as an alternate spelling), which includes a map with arrows presumably similar to Paul’s. The author of the article notes that the battle “established England as a great military power, helped to ring the curfew on the long day of cavalry supremacy, [and ] proved the value of fire-power as represented in the long bow.”    

143.9] ten ninety when Hasan brought his cutthroats out of Qum: From Britannica: "Hasan-e Sabbah, leader of an Islamic sect, the Nizari Isma'ilites, and commonly believed to be the founder of the order known as the Assassins. . . . When he returned to Iran he traveled widely in an effort to further Isma'ilite interests. He made a number of converts, and, in 1090, with the aid of converts made within its garrison, was able to seize the great fortress of Alamut in Daylam, a province of the Seljuq empire." [MR]  Also see,5716,40265+1,00.html

150.23] page 207 [...] that morning of return: from the 1969 Penguin edition of V. S. Naipaul’s novel The Mimic Men (1967).  

150.34] Bach’s D Major Concerto: apparently the D Major concerto for harpsichord and strings (BWV 1054).

Carpenter's Gothic
annotations for chapter
1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6 . 7

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