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 938-956

938.11] George Washington [...] about the time he said farewell to his troops: 1783; see 63.2.

938.14] Partisan Review: progressive American literary magazine founded in 1934; Gaddis's editor Catharine Carver was managing editor at the time R was published.

938.16] Other cities might cloy the appetites they fed [...] a morsel for a monarch: two passages from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra are parodied here; first, Enobarbus's famous description of the queen (used earlier at 63.17):

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety. Other women cloy
The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies. For vilest things
Become themselves in her, that the holy priests
Bless her when she is riggish. (2.2.240-45)

And second, Cleopatra's musings on the absent Antony:

He's speaking now,
Or murmuring, "Where's my serpent of old Nile?"
For so he calls me. Now I feed myself
With most delicious poison. Think on me,
That am with Phoebus' amorous pinches black
And wrinkled deep in time? Broad-fronted Caesar,
When thou wast here above the ground I was
A morsel for a monarch . . . (1.5.24-31)

938.20] ciné cochon? deux femmes: see 66.11.

938.24] the first bishop: Saint Denis (see 67.8).

938.26] a comment [...] in a woman's pen: commenting on Saint Denis's two-league march with head in hand, Madame du Deffand (1697-1780) wrote to d'Alembert: "The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult" (ODQ).

938.33] Vous m'emmenez: "Take me with you?" (cf. 75.43).

938.36] Lutetia succumbed after a struggle: Julius Caesar defeated Vercingetorix at Alésia in 52 B.C. and appointed Paris the meeting place for the deputies of Gaul.

938.41] flowered robes [...] courtesans throughout the ages: from Haggard (DDD 266):

Among the Greeks the law designated flowered robes as the costume of the courtesans, but was modified to prevent them from wearing scarlet or purple or jewels. It was the fashion among the courtesans to dye their hair blond or use flaxen wigs. At a late period in Greek history this fashion was followed by women who were not courtesans. All through the ages fashions have originated with courtesans. In Rome it is said that prostitutes could be distinguished from virtuous matrons only by the superior elegance of their dress and the swarm of admirers who surrounded them.

939.3] like the better class of whores in ancient Greece, a trained entertainer: "The better class of these women were trained entertainers" (DDD 267).

939.5] Socrates [...] Pericles [...] clasp Aspasia to his breast and weep": also from Haggard (DDD 267):

Socrates had no compunction in visiting Aspasia who had migrated from Milesia and established a house of prostitution in Athens. He even gave her sound philosophical advice for running her establishment. Subsequently Aspasia exercised such an influence over Pericles that he divorced his wife. He was accused of allowing Aspasia to govern Athens through her influence over him. Popular feeling rose high against her. The power of Pericles declined. Aspasia was accused of impiety and tried. Pericles appeared as her advocate, but in court his eloquence failed him; he could only clasp Aspasia to his breast and weep. She was acquitted, deserted Pericles, and married a wealthy grain merchant.

939.13] English, Italians, and even Turks [...] from conversing with the rest of the world": from Haggard's discussion of syphilis:

The Europeans, faced with a new disease, were hard pressed for a name. Each country blamed some other and named the disease accordingly. The Spaniards called it the disease of Espańola; the Italians called it the French disease; the French called it the Italian disease; the English credited it to the French; the Russians named it the Polish disease; for the Turks it was the French disease; and for the Indians and Japanese the Portuguese disease. France for some reason bore most of the onus. [...] In 1497, by act of the parliament of Paris, all persons infected with the new disease were prohibited, "under pain of death, from conversing with the rest of the world." The diseased persons who lived in the city were isolated in the suburbs of St.-Germain.

939.21] On the terrace of the Flore, a passably dressed man [...] youth who espoused it: a reference, especially obvious to a French reader, to Jean-Paul Sartre, a Flore regular, and his existentialist followers. [Jean-Paul Mourlon]

939.25] Red River Valley: traditional American folk song.

939.36] ankonoo [...] poorbwar: see 64.8.

940.19] Beethoven's duet for viola and cello: 1 1796 composition in E-flat major.

940.22] He climbs up a ladder [...] a canvas on the floor: a description of the working methods of Ĺmerican painter Jackson Pollack (1912-56), as Jackson Lears notes in his Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America (New York: Basic Books, 1994), 371.

940.25] Pissarro: Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), French Impressionist painter. Cf. 569.14.

940.27] La Macule: see 70.14.

940.44] George Sank: that is, the Georges Cinq, an elegant luxury hotel.

941.4] Trib: the Herald Tribune (see 77.17).

941.6] Nightwood: Djuna Barnes's (see 188.28) best-known novel (1936), dealing with a romantic lesbian triangle.

941.11] Mozart [...] wind instruments in the dinner scene with Leporello: Leporello is the servant of Don Giovanni in Mozart's opera of the same name. The last scene opens with the don dining and joking with his servant while his private orchestra plays various tunes, one of which is the "Non piů andrai" from Mozart's own Marriage of Figaro.

941.24] Marecones [...] Marecones y nada mas: Sp.: "Queers. [...] Queers and nothing more" (cf. 65.34). Here, as at 822.10, the word should be spelled maricones.

941.14] Rue Zheetliquer: i.e., rue Gît-le-Coeur (see 760.29).

941.25] Wie Eulen nach Athen bringen: Ger.: "Taking owls to Athens" - see 754.14-15.

941.43] [...] so they opened the hood to look at the engine, and there was nothing in there [...]: They were driving a 4 CV ("Quatre Chevaux", see picture) Renault, whose engine is at the rear, where the trunk usually is; opening the hood in front reveals the trunk and spare tire. A well-known joke in France, as old as the car itself, which was launched in August 1947 to great commercial success: when production stopped in July 1961, a million cars had been sold; along with the 2 CV Citroën, it was one of the first popular -- i.e. cheap -- cars sold in France. [Jean-Paul Mourlon]

942.29] On est prié [,,,] se supporter: Fr.: "It is requested that the window not be opened because the front of the hotel depends on it for support."

943.1] boeuf ŕ la sale anglaise [...] boeuf salé ŕ l'anglaise: the first means "beef of the dirty Englishwoman," the second "English salted beef."

943.19] Commissionier Clot of the Sureté Nationale: Commissaire Clot was chef de la brigade criminelle, head of the criminal squad, in Paris during the 1950s; later he had problems related to his staunch support of Algérie française, the movement to retian French control of Algeria. [Jean-Paul Mourlon]

943.41] coll' arte [...] francese: It.: "with the well-known art (guile) of French treachery."

944.15] a suburb called Banlieu: see 66.6.

944.19] Condom: a town in southwestern France, from its Latin name Condomus.

944.25] Malachi prophecy: see 35.36.

944.27] Paris is worth a Mass: Henri of Navarre, upon becoming Henri IV of France by converting to Catholicism, is reported to have justified his conversion with "Paris is well worth a Mass" (ODQ).

944.28] Les cinq fontaines ensanglantées: see 906.4.

944.28] Nostradamus predicts it will last until 3420: Michel de Nostre-Dame (1503-66), French astronomer, made many cryptic prophecies in his book Centuries (1555) that are open to numerous interpretations.

945.9] emmerdant . . . - les americains, alors: Fr.: "shitty . . . - Americans, then."

945.10] sleep out this great gap of time: from Antony and Cleopatra (1.5.4).

945.11] Hast thou affections? [...] what Venus did with Mars: Antony and Cleopatra, 1.5.12-18. Cleopatra has asked her eunuch Mardian if he still has sexual impulses. The ellipsis omits Mardian's comment: "for I can do nothing / But what indeed is honest to be done."

945.20] joy of the worm: the rustic who brings Cleopatra the fatal asp departs with: "I wish you joy o' the worm" (5.2.281).

945.20] Et toute nue . . . quelle envahisseuse!: Fr. "And completely nude . . . what an invader! [fem.]"

945.25] Policeman's Friend: a device for collecting urine in a container worn on the body (used by policemen on long stake-outs).

946.33] "Study by Candlelight" by Vincent van Gogh: the authenticity of this painting, an alleged self-portrait, was "the subject of the great art controversy of the year" in 1949; see "Is It, or Isn't It Van Gogh? Reasons Con & Pro," Art Digest, 15 December 1949, 15, 26. The "Hollywood movie producer" is identified as William Goetz, executive producer of Universal Pictures.

947.17] a new revised version [...] substituted the words young woman for virgin: when the Revised Standard Version of the Bible was published in 1952, its more accurate translation aroused the ire of many fundamentalists. An often-quoted example was the rendering of the famous prophecy of Christ in Isa. 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel," in which virgin was more correctly rendered in the RSV as "a young woman."

948.3] Napok óta nem aludt [...] kényszerüsegükben: Hungarian: "He hasn't slept for days." "For weeks." "Seconal, Luminal, Somnadex, we've tried everything. Even American drugs in our desperation." (Green reveals "actually the hungarian phrases in the recognitions were picked up by asking a few questions in the bar of a hungarian restaurant" [55, n.]; see Gaddis's own account in his Paris Review interview).

948.27] Nincsen oka: "No reason."

949.1] "Thank God there was the gold to forge": so said Wyatt at 693.32-33.

949.4] Aetas parentum pejor avis tulit nos nequiores: from Horace's Odes (3.6):

Aetas parentum pejor avis tulit
nos nequiores, mox daturos
progeniem vitiosiorem.

("Our fathers, viler than our grandfathers, begot us who are even viler, and we shall bring forth a progeny more degenerate still.") Ortega uses this quotation to illustrate the "decay and loss of pulse" in the Roman Empire (RM 30 and n.1).

949.19] Nincsen oka nem aludni: "There's no reason for him not to sleep."

949.24] Nézzen rá, nézzen a szemére: "Look at him, look at his eyes."

949.25] indulgeat tibi Dominus: "God forgives you" - from Extreme Unction (see 838.24 ff.)

949.26] Aut castus [...] et pereat!: "Aut castus sit aut pereat" means "Be pure or perish"; "et pereat" means "and perish." From Gits's pamphlet on St. Mary Goretti (see 831.35). {Mark Hale}

949.31] deliquisti per oculos [...] Quidquid deliquisti per manus: from Extreme Unction: "committed with your eyes [...] Whatever you committed with your hands" - an appropriate note for him to end on: Valentine's preoccupation with hands runs through the novel.

951.39] Sorcery [...] matters of faith?: cf. the following passage in MM (20): "Moreover, witchcraft differs from all other harmful and mysterious arts in this point, that of all superstition it is essentially the vilest, the most evil and the worst, wherefore it derives its name from doing evil, and from blaspheming the true faith. (Maleficae dictae a Maleficiendo, seu a male de fide sentiendo.)"

956.10] Prego [...] capisce: "Please, pay attention, don't use too much bass, and low notes. The church is so old that the vibrations, you see, could be very dangerous. Please, no bass . . . and no strange combinations of notes, you understand." (Mea culpa: the first edition of R began "Prego, faccia attenzione," which in the first edition of my Reader's Guide I said didn't sound right and wondered if the second word should be "fare," which Gaddis adopted in later Penguin editions of R. Hiowever, "faccia" is in fact correct (subjunctive case), though the more natural form here would be "La prego, faccia attenzione.")

956.23] the devil's interval: the tritone, the interval of the augmented fourth (e.g., c-f#). Its use was prohibited by early theorists.

956.25] Everything moved, and even falling, soared in atonement: Koenig ("Recognizing Gaddis' Recognitions" 71) suggests this echoes the final lines of Rilke's Duino Elegies:

And we, who have always thought
Of happiness climbing, would feel
the emotion that almost startles
when happiness falls.


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