|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions
Pages 769-823; early 1950.
Sinisterra is in Madrid posing as Mr. Yák (the same Inononu had been sent to kill; Sinisterra probably bought Yák's passport in New York ). Reading the local papers, in "whose pages he sought some new challenge to erase the indignity of [his] recent defeat" (773), he hatches the scheme of counterfeiting a mummy for "Seńor Kuvetli," that is, Inononu in Spain still looking for the real Mr. Yák.
Sinisterra travels to the cemetery at nearby San Zwingli to look into the possibilities of obtaining a corpse. Wyatt happens to be there, trying to find his mother's tomb. When Sinisterra learns Wyatt is the son of the woman he inadvertently killed thirty years earlier, he takes him under his wing, both to expiate his guilt and to gain assistance in the counterfeit. He gives Wyatt a Swiss passport with the name "Stephan Asche." (It will be remembered that "Stephen" was the name Camilla originally chose for him before Aunt May "peremptorily supplied the name Wyatt from somewhere in the Gwyon genealogy" .) Wyatt/Stephan is talked into assisting, but has little enthusiasm at this point for anything but white wine and prostitutes: first a flashy blonde named Marga staying at Sinisterra's pension, then a simple young woman named Pastora, who wants to have a child by him. Sinisterra and Stephan carry out their abduction of the corpse (that of the cross-eyed virgin; Camilla's, mistaken earlier for that of the little girl, is on its way to Rome for canonization). But upon returning to Madrid and hearing that the authorities are looking for "un falsificador," Stephan flees, leaving Sinisterra to complete the counterfeit.