Abbreviated Sources
and References

Annotations: title,
epigraph and

Part I

Part II

Part III
III.1 Synopsis
pp. 723-732
III.2 Synopsis
pp. 733-768
III.3 Synopsis
pp. 769-791
pp. 792-823
III.4 Synopsis
pp. 824-855
III.5 Synopsis
pp. 856-878
pp. 879-900
Epilogue Synopsis
pp. 901-937
pp. 938-956

A Reader's Guide to William Gaddis's The Recognitions


III.3 pp. pages 769-791

769.title] THE LAST TURN OF THE SCREW: see 5.19.

769.epigraph] ¡Así por la calle [...] Amar sin saber a quién: Lope de Vega (1562-1635), Spanish dramatist and poet, considered the greatest figure in Spanish literature after Cervantes. Amar sin saber a quién (roughly, To Love without Knowing Whom [to Love]) concerns Don Juan's quest for a veiled lady, who turns out to be the sister of his friend Fernando. At the beginning of act 3, Don Juan is stopped by Fernando, who rebukes him with the quoted line ("So that's the way you pass in the street someone to whom you owe affection!"), then invites him inside his house, where Don Juan finally meets the veiled lady.

769.1] Spain is a land to flee across: so said Rev. Gwyon earlier (429.21-22).

770.17] brush a spot of moonlight off the sleeve: perhaps an allusion to a poem from Pierrot Lunaire, a cycle of poems by Belgian dramatist and critic Albert Giraud (1860-1929), best known in their musical setting by German composer Arnold Schoenberg (1912). The poem is entitled "The Moonfleck" (trans. Robert E. Wolf):

With a fleck of white - bright patch of moonlight -
On the back of his black jacket,
Pierrot strolls about in the mid evening air
On his night-time hunt for fun and good pickings.

Suddenly something strikes him as wrong;
He checks his clothes over and sure enough finds
A fleck of white - bright patch of moonlight -
On the back of his black jacket.

Damn! he thinks, There's a spot of white plaster!
Rubs and rubs, but he can't get rid of it,
So goes on his way, his pleasure poisoned,
Rubbing and rubbing till dawn comes up -
At a fleck of white, a bright patch of moonlight!

Cf. 317.10 and 794.1.

770.18] sangre negro en mi corazón: see 110.11.

770.30] specter-ships of the sea to sail forever unable to make port: here and on p. 816 Gaddis quotes from EB's short article (9:431):

"FLYING DUTCHMAN," a spectre-ship popularly believed to haunt the waters around the Cape of Good Hope. Its appearance is considered by sailors as ominous of disaster. The commonest legend declares that the captain of the vessel, Vanderdecken, was condemned for his blasphemy to sail round the cape for ever, unable to "make" a port. The legend was used by Wagner in his opera Der fliegende Holländer.

The German legend makes one Herr von Falkenberg the hero and alleges that he is condemned to sail for ever round the North Sea, in a ship without helm or steersman, playing at dice for his soul with the devil.

770.37] Dinah: 1924 song by Sam Lewis and Joe Young (words) and Harry Akst (music); there are classic jazz recordings both by Ethel Waters (who introduced the song in her nightclub act) and by Louis Armstrong.

771.26] pasa doble: a dance step in 6/8 time popular in the 1920s (pasa should be paso).

771.27] La Tani: sometimes known as Tani mi Tani, the name of a young Gypsy bride. This flamenco song was written ca. 1942 by Francisco Acosta (lyrics) and Gerardo Monreal (music). Many examples can be heard at YouTube; one is below. It is heard throughout the chapter; see Sinisterra's explanation on p. 813. {Julián Ríos}


771.39] Quiere comer?: "Do you want to eat?"

772.7] Una y una dos [...] No sale la cuenta: "One and a two . . . two and a three [...]. The count doesn't come out."

772.30] España, Arriba, ABC: Spanish newspapers.

772.31] Dos iguales para hoy!: "Two lottery tickets today!"

773.9] I. Al. Bratescu-Voinesti's [...] In Tuneric si Luminä: Darkness and Light (1912) by Ioan Alexandru Bratescu-Voinesti (1868-1946). (In Tuneric should be Intuneric - Gaddis's spelling indicates his source: the article on Rumanian literature in EB [19:656]; the preposition si was properly spelled with a cedilla beneath the s in the first edition of R but somehow got dropped in the latest edition.)

774.3] Pensión Las Cenizas: "The Ashes Pension": cf. Stephan Asche (795.39) and the phoenix rising from the ashes.

774.20] Goya: Francisco de Goya (1746-1828), Spanish artists, one of the greatest (and most prolific) of European artists.

774.34] Digame: Tell Me - apparently another Spanish newspaper.

775.3] divine flatus: "divine afflatus" is holy inspiration, but here "flatus"=fart. [MR]

775.10] Marga: cf. Gretchen (a German diminutive of Margaret) in Goethe's Faust.

776.1] Segovia: city and province northwest of Madrid.

776.38] the girl, the woman, the hag, and the skull: cf. Graves's description of the Triple Goddess: "As the New Moon or Spring she was girl; as the Full Moon or Summer she was woman; as the Old Moon or Winter she was hag" (WG 320).

776.39] Ausculta: Lat.: "Listen; pay attention."

776.40] Mira señor: Sp. "Look sir."

777.29] la guerra [...] los rojos: "the war" (Spanish Civil War) . . . "the reds" - Yák/Sinisterra will explain at the bottom of 777.

777.40] España . . . no hay más que una!: "Spain - there's only one" (perhaps a tourist slogan).

778.3] Coño, mira: "Fuck [literally, cunt], look."

778.14] Ya no! Ya no! [...] Ya viene!": "Not now! (or Not yet!) [...] It's coming! It's coming!"

778.18] first station of the cross: see 3.5; the fourteen stations, some of which are mentioned over the next few pages, are: (1) Jesus is condemned to death. (2) He is made to bear his cross. (3) He falls the first time under the weight of the cross. (4) He meets his mother. (5) Simon of Cyrene helps to carry the cross. (6) Veronica wipes the perspiration from Jesus' face. (7) He falls a second time. (8) He speaks to the daughters of Jerusalem. (9) He falls a third time. (10) He is stripped of his garments. (11) He is nailed to the cross. (12) He dies. (13) He is taken down from the cross. (14) He is laid in the sepulcher.

780.19] Hace años [...] cuya presencia: "Years ago the prelates of the church came reprimanding the shameful [...] the sanctity of the church is no longer respected, nor the most august and sacred mysteries in whose presence [...]."

780.39] every time a funeral passes, it's your own passing: a paraphrase of John Donne's often-quoted lines: "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee" (ODQ).

781.14] albus. Bianco: "white" in Latin and Italian.

781.22] Manzanilla: the same white wine Wyatt and Esther once shared (109.40).

781.35] La Sebastiana: see 822.16-21.

782.15] Dama de Elche: famous Greco-Phoenician bust of a woman, usually dated between 500 B.C. and A.D. 150, found at the Spanish village of Elche, and now in the Archaeological Museum in Madrid; reproduced in A&H, plate 23. However, a recent study argues that the patriotic symbol of Iberia is actually a late-nineteenth-century forgery: see John F. Moffitt's Art Forgery: The Case of the "Lady of Elche" (Gainesville: Univ. Press of Florida, 1995).

783.38] these fish [...] watching me: fish are a traditional symbol for Christ, making this a comic aspect of the Dominus videt motif.

784.4] Sam Hall: the murderous chimney-sweep celebrated in an English song popular in the middle of the nineteenth century.

784.6] Vaya! Fuera!: "Go! Out!"

785.34] putting off the old man: see 481.19.

785.42] Stephan: see 27.25 and 795.39.

787.8] The body is extended [...] paint on the outside: the process of mummification as practiced in the Fifth Dynasty, from EB's article "Mummy" (15:954).

788.1] por el dibujo sabe? . . . quiere ver el dibujo: "for the picture you know? . . . he wants to look at the picture."

788.30] duro: short for peso duro ("hard peso"), that is, a silver dollar.

789.11] Dios de lo pague señor: "May God repay you sir" (cf. 166.17).

790.17] Se olvida: "you forgot."

791.6] new head out of wax: as they did with Maria Goretti (16.12).


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