Scenes 51 - 60 | pages 352 - 449
Annotations by Steven Moore except as [noted].

< scenes 41--50 | pp. 251 -- 352   $   scenes 61--70 | pp. 449 - 580 >

annotations with scene outline
scenes 1 - 10 | pp. 3 - 59    
 scenes 11 - 20 | pp. 59 - 149   
scenes 21 - 30 | pp. 149 - 194
scenes 31--40 | pp. 194 - 251
scenes 41--50 | pp. 251--352
scenes 51 - 60 | pp. 352 - 449
scenes 61 - 70 | pp. 449 - 580
scenes 71 - 83 | pp. 580 - 726
scene outline only

Scene 51 (352.12-353.37)
Angel apartment
Stella entertains a lesbian lover. 

352.32] Berg: Alban Berg (1885-1935), Austrian composer known as pioneer of atonal and 12-tone music. For biography and more:

Scene 52 (353.38-361.20)
General Roll plant
ngel and Coen discuss finances and Gibbs’s past history with the company.

353.15] Brisingamen: see 282.22. 

354.30:  Joan Bennett 
when she dyed her hair black

354.30] Joan Bennett when she dyed her hair black:  the stage and film actress (1910-1990); the reference is perhaps to Dark Shadows, a supernatural soap opera on TV, though in most movie stills and publicity photos of the actress she has dark hair; Angel can remember her in Little Women (1933) and other early films in which she was blonde.

355.21] Nathan Wise: cf. Lessing’s Nathan the Wise (1779), a dramatic poem in five acts on toleration.

Scene 53 (361.20-362.33)
General Roll plant
Myrna and Terry chat, then take subway to Manhattan with Angel following them; he spots Bast at subway stop.

Scene 54 (362.33-378.28)
96th Street apartment
Bast walks from subway stop to apartment and finds Rhoda there; both spy Gibbs and Myrna making love in adjacent apartment; Rhoda stays the night while Bast works on film score. He leaves next morning for an appointment; a picture-phone is installed in apartment.

365.1] No it's, I have a hole in my pocket and the coins drop down my trouser leg: perhaps an allusion to Nikolai Gogol's The Inspector General (1842). In act 4, scene 7, the buffoons Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky are struggling to come up with money; Bobchinsky urges Dobchinsky: "I know there's a hole in your right-hand pocket, and really, something may have fallen through" (Four Great Russian Plays [Dover, 2004], p. 106). [Eric Bies]

373.7] Anton Dvorák’s sev . . .: Czech composer (1841-1904); his Seventh Symphony has never attained the popularity of his Ninth (the New World).

Scene 55 (378.28-388.24)
96th Street apartment
Bast returns, finds Rhoda gone; J R calls; a drunken Gibbs arrives (382), and Eigen shortly afterwards.

382.33] Through caverns measureless to: from Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan.” 

382.36] Bosom where bright waters meet: from Thomas Moore’s (1779-1852) poem “The Meeting of the Waters”: “There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet / As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet” (ODQ)—referring to the Avoca in County Wicklow, Ireland.

382.37] confluence of the Mongahela [...] to form the mighty Ohio: source unknown. (Gibbs drunkenly mispronounces “Monongahela.”)

383.1] meat in the hall, a bin of wine, a living river by the door: from the “Envoy” to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Underwoods (1887):

Go, little book, and wish to all
Flowers in the garden, meat in the hall,
A bin of wine, a spice of wit,
A house with lawns enclosing it,
A living river by the door,
A nightingale in the sycamore!

388.1] Rhoda with the burning bush: reference unknown.

388.2] Traité de mécanique: a 1774 work edited by the Abbé Marie of the Collége Mazarin; it is remembered now for the articles by French mathematician Adrien Legendre (1752-1833).

388.3] Bess the landlord’s daughter, plaiting a dark red loveknot: the last line of Alfred Noyes’s (1880-1958) poem “The Highwayman” (ODQ).  

388.7 "black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast" from the same source as 388.3
above, Alfred Noyes's "The Highwayman".  See

388.16] deep-browed [...] On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer: Keats’s famous sonnet. Why did Gaddis choose this sonnet to test the Reading Dynamics claim?  David Kennedy, a former writer for the Harvard Lampoon, writes: “Among other tribulations, Lampoon initiates are required to memorize Keats’s sonnet and be able to recite it at top speed -- in the time it takes for an ordinary match to burn down.” Gaddis joined the Lampoon staff in 1943.

Scene 56 (388.25-400.45)
96th Street, Schramm former apartment
Beamish, Mrs. Schramm’s lawyer, discusses his estate with Gibbs and Eigen. Learn that Marian left Eigen while he was away in Germany.

389.39] the self who could do more: a phrase from The Recognitions, used to describe Wyatt’s emblematic role in the novel.


390.11] comes back to tell us all: see 284.19.

390.27] Saint Fiacre [...] last big offensive: based on the Ardennes offensive (the Battle of the Bulge) in World War II; “Saint Fiacre” is St. Vith, “Blaufinger” is General Hasso von Manteuffel, and “General Box” perhaps General R. W. Hasbrouck.

391.14] Faust: Goethe’s famous drama (1808, 1832).

392.5] Hippolytus: the illegitimate son of Theseus with whom Theseus’ wife Phaedra falls in love; see Euripides’ play of the same name.

393.23] decline from status to contract: Gaddis may have first come upon this concept in Richard Hofstadter’s Social Darwinism in American Thought (1944; rev. ed. Boston: Beacon, 1955), a book he later taught at Bard. Hofstadter quotes William Graham Sumner’s explanation of the concept on pp. 7-8.


393.42] Türschluss syndrome: as Gibbs reveals a few lines later, a play on the phrase “Schließ die Tür” (Ger. “Shut the door”). Gaddis’s German translator Klaus Modick notes that the term is derived from Torschluss-Panik, literally panic of closed doors/gates, meaning “the fear of being or coming or arriving too late for something, a fear that produces a certain feeling of panic. It’s used a great deal [for] metaphoric means, for example for someone who realizes that he’s getting too old to get married and does marry ‘the next best person’ because of his ‘Torschluß-Panik.’ When Gaddis puts this term on a whole generation which panics because it comes too late to do its things worth doing he probably coins something like ‘the lost generation.’” Torschlusspanik is also the title of a radio play Gaddis wrote (taken from the opening pages of Agapé Agape) for DeutschlandRadio in 1998.

393.44] all sad words of tongue or pen: from John Greenleaf Whittier’s (1807-92) poem “Maude Muller”: “For all sad words of tongue or pen, / The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” (ODQ).

394.14] Faust: Goethe’s famous two-part drama (1808, 1832), which opens with Mephistopheles betting the Lord he can lead the scholar Faust astray.

Dirty Tricks typescript
-click to enlarge-

396. 26] Dirty Tricks: the title of an undated 143-page screenplay whose title page reads “A Western by William Gaddis and H. Bloomstein | Based on an original screen story by William Gaddis.” (Henry Bloomstein was a film producer and screenwriter married to Gaddis’s agent, Candida Donadio.) Gaddis’s original film treatment, a 19-page manuscript of about 5000 words apparently written in the 1960s, is entitled “One Fine Day,” which in fact is the title used in the bound galleys of J R; Gaddis changed it to “Dirty Tricks” before the book went to press. The film treatment follows part 1 of Goethe’s Faust closely; similarly, Bloomstein’s screenplay follows Gaddis closely.

After being tarred and feathered and driven out of one Western town in the 1870s, a con man named Slade arrives in the capital of the territory, accompanied by a stray black dog. It is Sunday, and Slade watches emerge from a church both the town patriarch, called the General, and a young lawyer named Fawkes, whose “modest, dutiful” demeanor conceals his “desire and ambition.” Slade also notices a teenage girl named Margaret, as well as Fawkes’s hero-worshiping law clerk. Slade, who served with the General in the recent Civil War, bets the General that he can corrupt Fawkes, a wager the General accepts. The film treatment continues to parallel Faust: the General is Goethe’s Lord, Slade is Mephistopheles, Fawkes is a faux Faust, Margaret is Margaret, and the law clerk is Faust’s assistant Wagner. Margaret’s brother  Billy (Valentine in Goethe’s drama) and even the black dog (Mephistopheles) are also part of the cast. Slade predictably manages to corrupt Fawkes, who impregnates Margaret, and tricks Billy into firing his gun at Fawkes in the street, who returns fire and kills him. On the verge of winning an election, as Slade promised he would arrange, Fawkes “pieces together some sense of the General’s wager, and that the power he fought for was what the General had in mind for him all the time.” Slade and Fawkes face off in another street gunfight, but Fawkes shoots the General instead, at which point the sheriff and many citizens blast away at Fawkes and kill him. As the Law Clerk bends over Fawkes’s corpse and looks up at Slade, the con man offers to make a new wager with the General.

A sidebar to R. Z. Sheppard’s Time magazine review of J R (13 October 1975) says of Gaddis:  “At present he is working on a western screenplay. ‘Every American writer,’ he insists, ‘has a western in him somewhere.’” Over the next few years Gaddis discussed with his agent the possibility of publishing it as a book (see Letters, pp. 297-98, 299, 318), but abandoned it once he began writing Carpenter’s Gothic.


396.32] the Duke who this great fight did win [...] Southey: from Robert Southey’s (1774-1843) once-famous poem “The Battle of Blenheim” (ODQ).

396.40] my name is Death, the last best friend am I: from Southey’s “The Dream” (from Carmen Nuptiale, “The Lay of the Laureate”); in the ODQ this quotation directly follows that above.

397.21] Malleus Maleficarum, Hexenhammer: i.e., “The Witches’ Hammer,” a notorious book on witchcraft compiled by Kramer and Sprenger in 1486, consisting of questions and answers. Gaddis used it occasionally in The Recognitions.

398.11] Paul and Virginia: from Paul et Virginie (1787), the famous idyllic romance by French writer Jacques Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737-1814).

398.14] it may be asked [...] belonged to a parish priest: from Rev. Montague Summers’s translation of the Malleus Maleficarum (1928; rpt. New York: Dover, 1971), 121.

398.39] stringer whereon mad thingers: see 131.3.

399.10] Abraham Lincoln walks at midnight: from Vachel Lindsay’s famous poem (1914) of the same name.

400.41] things in the saddle and ride mankind: from Emerson’s “Ode (Inscribed to W. H. Channing),” ll. 50-51 (ODQ). 


Scene 57 (401.1-414.12)
Eigen’s apartment
After a brief run-in with the “five Jones boys,” Eigen and Gibbs take a cab downtown to the former’s apartment; discuss marriage and Wiener on communication. Gibbs invents Divorce board game (410); both get drunk and fall asleep.

401.15] five Jones boys [...] sin cojones: a bilingual pun Gaddis first used in The Recognitions (802.1): “los cinco Jones” sounds in Spanish like los sin cojones—“those without balls.”

403.5] Kurt Weill: German composer (1900-50).

403.11] mother in Solomon’s: see 1 Kings 3:16-28.

403.30] Wiener on communication, more complicated the message more [...] chance for errors: see Wiener’s The Human Use of Human Beings (1950; rev. 1954)—Gaddis’s source for entropy, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Josiah Willard Gibbs, and information theory in general.

407.16] Traviata: famous opera by Verdi (1853), based on Dumas’s La Dame aux camélias.


407.17] little Hexenritt from Hansel and Gretel: “Witches’ Ride,” the prelude to act 2 of Engelbert Humperdinck’s 1893 opera.

407.22] Che volo d'augelli from Pagliacci: Nedda's ballatella in act l, scene 2 of Leoncavallo's 1892 opera.

407.26] Se vuol ballare from Figaro: Figaro’s aria in act 1 of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (1786; the Italian is quoted in Kobbé [26]).

407.27] Anvil chorus: from act 2, scene 1 of Verdi’s Il trovatore (1853).

407.33] witches can’t weep: Malleus Maleficarum, p. 227.

408.8] witch takes this virgin up to a room where she: from the Malleus Maleficarum(97):

Another virgin living in the diocese of Strasburg confessed to one of us that she was alone on a certain Sunday in her father’s house, when an old woman of that town came to visit her and, among other scurrilous words, made the following proposition; that, if she liked, she would take her to a place where there were some young men unknown to all the townsmen. And when, said the virgin, I consented, and followed her to her house, the old woman said, “See, we go upstairs to an upper room where the young men are; but take care not to make the sign of the Cross.” I gave my promise not to do so, and as she was going before me and I was going up the stairs, I secretly crossed myself. At the top of the stairs, when we were both standing outside the room, the hag turned angrily upon me and with a horrible countenance, and looking at me said, “Curse you! Why did you cross yourself? Go away from here. Depart in the name of the devil.” And so I returned unharmed to my home.


408.13] Heart of Darkness [...] takes her picture and letters back to her: at the end of Conrad’s 1899 novella, Marlow visits Mrs. Kurtz to return her husband’s effects. Instead of telling her Kurtz’s true last words (“The horror! The horror!”), Marlow lies and tells her that her name was his last word. See 631.11 below.

411.21] in wild surmise: from Keats: see 388.19.

412.18] Council of Nicaea [...] banished Arius to Illyricum [...] like substance: Arius was a 4th-century theologian who argued Christ was of like substance but not the same as God; the Nicaean Council (325) insisted Christ was of same substance and banished Arius. Cf. The Recognitions, p. 9.

413.22] when you’re alone [...] Hoo hoo : from the “full chorus” at the end of Eliot’s “Fragment of an Agon” (Sweeney Agonistes), p. 84 in The Complete Poems and Plays 1909-1950 (1952). [Joseph Tabbi]


Scene 58 (414.13-419.12)
Typhon International
Eigen leaves Gibbs in his apartment and takes a cab to work; talks with Gall about each other’s plays. Learns that Miss Flesch (formerly of J R’s school) is his new supervisor.

415.10] Begin the Beguine: words and music by Cole Porter, introduced by June Knight in the musical Jubilee (1935) but made famous the following year by Artie Shaw and His Orchestra.

418.6] Klamm in The Castle: the Chief in Kafka’s posthumously published novel (1926), an interview with whom the protagonist seeks unsuccessfully throughout the novel. More information about author and work at http://www.kafka.org.

418.39] the medium and the message: The Medium Is the Message (1967) is Marshall McLuhan’s book on mass communications.


Scene 59 (419.12-437.29)
Typhon International
Cates, Zona Selk, and Beaton discuss various matters.

429.18] eighty-third Congress: active during Eisenhower’s first term.

429.19] Klamaths and the Menomi: Native American Indian tribes. 

436.39] BP circuit: Beautiful People.

Scene 60 (437.30-449.20)
Crawley & Bro.
Bast and Crawley discuss music and financial matters. 

annotations with scene outline
scenes 1 - 10 | pp. 3 - 59    
 scenes 11 - 20 | pp. 59 - 149   
scenes 21 - 30 | pp. 149 - 194
scenes 31--40 | pp. 194 - 251
scenes 41--50 | pp. 251--352
scenes 51 - 60 | pp. 352 - 449
scenes 61 - 70 | pp. 449 - 580
scenes 71 - 83 | pp. 580 - 726
scene outline only

440.7] Trilby [...] he can’t get at them: 1894 novel by George du Maurier (1834-96) about an artists’ model who falls under the hypnotic influence of Svengali. But the passage Crawley describes occurs instead in du Maurier’s 1891 novel Peter Ibbetson.

447.28] Don’t Fence Me In: see 218.25.

448.5] Trilby: see 440.7.

449.4] to make them see, above all to make them feel: Crawley perhaps inadvertently (but Gaddis deliberately) is echoing Joseph Conrad in his preface to The Nigger of the “Narcissus”: “My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see!”

449.6] simplify Mister Bast. Simplify: “Simplify, simplify” Thoreau likewise urges in the second chapter of Walden.