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


Epilogue pp. pages 901-937

901.epigraph] Aux Clients [...] rue de l'Aqueduct, Oran: Fr.: "To Clients Recognized as sick, MONEY will not be refunded." Oran is a seaport city in Algeria.

901.23] ascent of Benedict XV: died 1922.

901.24] as an eminent Spaniard supplies [...] his vital time is limited: to his statement "It was a question of honour for man to triumph over cosmic space and time," Ortega appends this footnote: "It is precisely because man's vital time is limited, precisely because he is mortal, that he needs to triumph over distance and delay. For an immortal being, the motor-car would have no meaning" (RM 39, n.1; WG/SM).

902.12] Judith over Holofernes [...] Donatello [...] his Salome: the Italian sculptor executed a Judith and Holofernes (cf. 74.32), but he lived in the fifteenth century, not the nineteenth. Later, Mrs. Deigh calls the Victorian sculpture "his famous David" (925.35).

903.16] True Cross [...] Paulinus: see 245.31 and 719.10.

903.28] Hadrian: perhaps named after Hadrian the Seventh, the 1905 novel by Baron Corvo (Frederick Rolfe [1860-1913], whom Gaddis says he read while working on R).

903.36] Annunciation by Tintoretto: Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto (1518-94), Venetian artist; he painted many Annunciations.

904.29] an apparition of the Virgin: see 917.1 ff.

905.37] Laocoön: one of the most famous sculptures of the Classical era, now in the Vatican.

906.4] Le cinque fonti sanguinose: It.: The Five Bloodstained Fountains (unidentified; a French version appears at 944.28).

906.6] San Clemente! [...] Prior Mullooly [...] it's all owned by Dominicans: cf. pp. 37-38. In 1857 Father Joseph Mullooly, then Prior of San Clemente, began excavations beneath the basilica and uncovered both the fourth-century basilica underneath (which incorporates a room previously used for the worship of Mithra) and, lower still, the remains of a first-century building. See his St. Clement Pope and Martyr and His Basilica in Rome (2d ed., 1873). But since Fr. Mullooly died in 1880, it is impossible for Mrs. Deigh to have known him. The basilica has been in the hands of the Irish Dominicans since the end of the seventeenth century - and was still in 1984 when Gaddis visited the Mithræum for the first time. Click for more information and images of San Clemente and the Mithraeum.

906.26] Forster's Where Angels Fear to Tread: Forster's 1905 novel concerns the effect of Italy's culture and atmosphere on some provincial English personalities and a scandal that ensues.

907.1] et eum a societate [...] et excommunicatum: from the rite of excommunication (the Latin is given in EB's article "Anathema" [1:879-80], and an English translation in its "Bell, Book and Candle" [3:376]): "[We separate him, together with his accomplices and abettors, from the precious body and blood of the Lord] and from the society of all Christians; we exclude him from our holy mother the Church in heaven and on earth; we declare him excommunicate [and anathema]" - continued at 916.40.

907.44] Nibelungs [...] Wagnerian panorama: see 196.16.

908.11] arca musarithmica: see 926.20.

908.38] I H S: see 926.38.

909.4] Saint Stephen: see 27.25; Foxe gives this account of his martyrdom: "His death was occasioned by the faithful manner in which he preached the Gospel to the betrayers and murderers of Christ. To such a degree of madness were they excited, that they cast him out of the city and stoned him to death. The time when he suffered is generally supposed to have been at the passover which succeeded to that of our Lord's crucifixion, and to the era of his ascension, in the following spring" (BM 2).

910.7] A Room with a View: another Forster novel (1908), also partly set in Italy, concerning the experiences of a young upper-middle-class Englishwoman.

910.41] Saint Joseph of Copertino: see 51.18. In his discussion of alleged levitation among saints, Hughes writes: "The most famous example is that of St. Joseph of Cupertino [sic], whose ecstatic flights (and he perched in trees) caused embarrassment in the seventeenth century" (W 117).

911.3] Chez: Fr.: "at the home (place) of."

911.19] Thomas à Becket: (1118?-70), English prelate and archbishop of Canterbury. "The followers of St. Thomas à Becket--even the less initiated--were able to extol his grime and the number of lice to which he was host" (W  49).

912.25] a lance tipped with golden fire [...] "Lilies without, roses within": some of these details are from PPM, but the quotation is from Marvell's poem "Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn" (ODQ).

912.29] Caravaggio: Italian painter (1569-1609) who introduced a harsh realism into biblical subjects.

913.10] Moses is accused of witchcraft in the Koran: see 55.40.

914.4] rose garden: the one into which Saint Francis threw himself in Assisi; see 830.18 ff.

916.17] toleratus [...] vitandus [...] to take part in the Mass: from EB's "Anathema" (1:879-80).

916.40] et anathematizatum [...] aeternum indicamus: continued from 907.1-4: "we declare him [excommunicate] and anathema; we judge him damned, with the Devil and his angels and all the reprobate, to eternal fire [until he shall recover himself from the toils of the Devil and return to amendment and to penitence]" (EB 3:376).

916.43] Mount Ararat [...] Noah's Ark: in 1951, American historian and missionary Aaron Smith spent twelve days with forty companions fruitlessly searching for Noah's Ark on the ice cap of Ararat.

917.1] American picture magazine [...] sun's antics over Portugal: a reference to the miracle of Fátima (1917), where three children's vision of the Virgin Mary was climaxed by the sun's dancing in the sky. There is an article in the 5 November 1951 issue of Life on Fátima, in which Cardinal Tedeschini is quoted (and pictured) on the papal vision reported earlier in the Osservatore Romano (see 414.22 ff.), but the article does not feature the photograph referred to in the novel. We are meant to remember that as a girl - perhaps about 1917 - Mrs. Deigh "one day, floating naked on her back in the blue waters off Portugal, [...] was discovered by some peasant children who took her for an apparition of the Virgin" (904.27-29).

918.34] Firbank: see 925.1.

918.40] Fenn és . . .: Hungarian: "Above and . . ."; Fenn és lenn (Above and Below) is a novel by Francis Herczeg mentioned in the article on Hungarian literature in EB (11:896).

919.2] "If we had stopped [...] a minute of silence": see 935.13.

919.12] Keats is buried, or is it Shelley: Keats died in Rome and is buried in a Protestant cemetery there; Shelley's corpse was burned on the beach at Viareggio.

920.37] corruption put to good use ... Gorgonzola] Bernard Looks tells this story: "Here is something that Gaddis's friend Martin S. Dworkin told me years ago about what happened on the eve of the publication of the book. He and Gaddis were talking and drinking all night in Marty's one room apartament in the Village. The metal plates had already been prepared and were ready for printing. Toward morning, Dworkin, always the good host, asked Gaddis if he wanted something to eat. He then went to his small refrigerator and took out some fully ripened gorgonzola and said, with the book clearly in mind, 'Here's one example of corruption that won't do anybody any harm.' As Dworkin tells it, Gaddis's face fell. This had to get into the book. Later that morning, as soon as he could reach his publisher by phone, he authorized the scraping of the already printed metal plate."

921.5] A Véres költö: see 648.32.

921.21] Saint Peter's Umbrella: see 652.39.

921.30] Joan of Arc was a witch: Jeanne d'Arc was tried by the French ecclesiastical courts on twelve charges of sorcery, among other things. Hughes discusses these accusations at length (W 161-63).

921.32] Franciscans were canonized for the very things the Waldensians were burned alive for: so notes Hughes (W 53).   Waldensians (after Peter Waldo of Lyons) threw off the authority of the pope, bishops, and clergy, appointed lay teachers (including women), and rejected infant baptism and many other rites; as a result they were persecuted by the church. Hence the 12th-century Waldensians anticipated the 13th-century Franciscans in returning to a more basic, primitive form of Christianity and in attacking the wealth and pomp of the medieval church.

922.44] the most recent dogma, that of the Assumption: the popular belief that the Virgin Mary was bodily assumed into heaven upon her death was proclaimed dogma by Pius XII on 1 November 1950.

923.32] Mary [...] Elizabeth: Mary was the daughter of Anne, not Elizabeth; the latter was John the Baptist's mother.

923.36] Saint Anthony of Padua: (1195-1231), Portuguese-born Italian preacher and wonder-worker.

923.39] Saint John of the Cross [...] Where there is no love: see 451.35.

925.1] Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli: English writer Ronald Firbank's (1886-1926) last novel, Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli (1926), concerns an eccentric cardinal in Spain who baptizes dogs and finally meets his death while chasing a choirboy around the altar of an empty church. It was reprinted in 1949 as one of Five Novels during what was briefly a Firbank "revival."

925.2] Justine: see 183.40.

925.12] art of sitting and forgetting: in More Trivia , a short book of aphoristic observations by American-born English essayist Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946), the author writes that he plans to practice "that Taoist art of disintegration which Yen Hui described to Confucius as 'the art of sitting and forgetting'" (NY: Harcourt, Brace, 1921, p. 79).

925.28] coign of vantage: a convenient corner, from Macbeth (ODQ).

926.20] arca musarithmica: there is a brief article on this machine in EB (2:231), though Gaddis may have learned of it during his researches into the history of the player piano, which he was researching at the same time he wrote R.

926.30] Hercules, by della Robbia: Luca della Robbia (1400-82), Italian sculptor, along with Donatello one of the great innovators of the fifteenth century.

926.38] Impubis Hadrianus Semper: "May Hadrian Be Forever Pure." The Latin abbreviation I.H.S. derives from a Greek abbreviation of the name of Jesus and is usually interpreted In Hoc Signo - Vinces ("In This Sign - Conquer") or Jesus Hominium Salvator ("Jesus, Savior of Man").

928.36] Saint Raphael [...] Saint Auriel: these angels preside over the east, west, south, and north, respectively.

930.8] FIAT: Lat.: "So be it": the final word in an excommunication ceremony, followed by an amen. Cf. 850.37.

935.13] "Deft, moving, genuine [...] the Confessions": Anselm's joining a silent order and writing his confessions seem modeled on the career of Thomas Merton (1915-68), whose autobiographical Seven Storey Mountain (1948) was similarly compared to the Confessions of Saint Augustine.

936.38] a thick book [...] no necktie: the description is of the first edition of R. Martin Dworkin's photograph of Gaddis "sans gêne with a cigarette, sang-froid with no necktie" appeared in both the Time and Newsweek reviews.

937.30] The Idiot [...] Goodbye!'": Dostoevski's 1869 novel concerns Prince Myshkin, an epileptic and a good, guileless man. The lives of a number of singular characters become involved with his, and although they all admire Myshkin's personal qualities, they consider him, for all practical purposes, an "idiot." Ippolit, a tortured consumptive who fails in his attempt to commit suicide, asks, "Did you imagine that I did not foresee all this hatred!" shortly before the attempt when he receives a negative reaction to a long confession he has just read (3.7). The quotation about Europe is from the last page of the novel and is spoken by Lizaveta Prokofyevna, the eccentric matriarch of the novel. The final exchange is again between Ippolit and Myshkin and concludes 4.5; Ippolit has asked, "What do you think would be the best way for me to die?" and Myshkin answers as quoted. The translation used is Constance Garnett's.


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936.38:  Gaddis photographed
by Martin S. Dworkin.