Abbreviated Sources
and References

Annotations: title,
epigraph and

Part I
I.1 Synopsis
pp. 3-21
pp. 23-28
pp. 29-46
pp. 47-62
I.2 Synopsis
pp. 63-68
pp. 69-77
I.3 Synopsis
pp. 78-93
pp. 94-123
pp. 124-153
I.4 Synopsis
pp. 154-168
I.5 Synopsis
pp. 169-187
pp. 188-201
I.6 Synopsis
pp. 202-221
I.7 Synopsis
pp. 222-256
pp. 257-277

Part II

Part III

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


I.3 pp. pages 94-123

94.1] Sibelius: Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), Finnish composer, most of whose music attempts to capture the spirit of Finland and its legendary past. He composed seven symphonies; see 574.25-26.

94.7] substance and accident: see 58.16.

95.32] Fichte: Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814), German Romantic philosopher; see 120.20 ff.

96.11] Who's the intimate of a saint, it's her Jesuit confessor: see 550.36-38.

96.20] no ruse people will disdain: from Esme's letter (bottom of 471).

96.21] Descartes "retiring to prove his own existence," his "cogito ergo sum": René Descartes (1596-1650), eminent French mathematician and philosopher. Source of first quotation unknown; his axiom "I think, therefore I am" (from part 4 of The Discourse on Method [1637]) exemplified the importance of intuition in his philosophical method. Cf. this passage with 800.9-11.

96.23] he advance masked. Kept a salamander: for the first phrase, see 800.10. Descartes's salamander figures in chapter 12 of Anatole France's spritely occult novel At the Sign of the Reine Pédauque (1893; English trans. 1912), possibly Gaddis's source. [Keith McMullen]

96.44] Arab saying, "The arch never sleeps": in J. R. Ackerley's Hindoo Holiday (see 733.epigraph), Gaddis read:

The Hindoo never builds an arch; he prefers the rectangular form, the straight stone beam resting on uprights; for then there is pressure in only one direction, downwards.
The Mohammedan builds arches, but the Hindoo despises them. There is pressure in two directions, downwards and outwards, and the Hindoo considers this self-destructive.
"The arch never sleeps," he says. (184)

Wyatt interprets the proverb as a favorable remark by the Arab, though it seems obvious it is a disparaging remark by the Hindu.

97.6] Maillart: see 601.3-5.

97.18] Handel and Palestrina, William Boyce, Henry Purcell, Vivaldi, Couperin: all composers: Handel was German, Giovanni Palestrina (ca. 1525-94) and Antonio Vivaldi (ca. 1675-1741) Italian, Boyce (1710-79) and Purcell (1659-95) English, and François Couperin (1668-1733) French.

97.25] When I am laid: from Dido's famous final aria in Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas (1689), libretto by Nahum Tate: "When I am laid in earth, may my wrongs create / No trouble in thy breast! / Remember me! - But ah! forget my fate!"

98.6] Persephone: daughter of Zeus and Demeter, Persephone was abducted by Hades and taken to his "infernal kingdom," where she became queen of the dead. After a long search Demeter finally found her daughter, and a bargain was reached that allowed Persephone to spend half the year (spring-summer) on earth and the other half in the underworld.

98.29] the child is father to the man: the well-known line is from Wordsworth's "My Heart Leaps Up" (1802) and was used in the epigraph to his "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" (1804).

98.32] The Secret of the Golden Flower: T'ai I Chin Hua Tsung Chih is an ancient Taoist meditation text cited in IP for Chinese parallels to Western alchemy. In the standard German and English translations it is accompanied by a psychological commentary by Jung.

98.33] Problems of Mysticism and Its Symbolism: the first major psychological investigation of alchemy, written by German psychologist Herbert Silberer and first published in America in 1917; cited, but given scant credit, in IP.

98.34] Prometheus and Epimetheus: a prose epic (1881) by Swiss poet and novelist Carl Spitteler (pen name of Feli x Tandem, 1845-1924), thrice mentioned in IP in a comparison of academic rejection of alchemy with the rejection of the jewel in Prometheus "for which reason, also, it is unrecognized by all the worldly-wise" (119).

98.34] Cantilena Riplæi: Ripley's Song is an alchemical parable of spiritual rebirth by Sir George Ripley (1415-90), canon of Bridlington. Jung paraphrases the poem in IP (262-66).

98.39] There was a man of double deed: an anonymous children's "rhyme of strange fascination; many people have recalled the awe-inspiring effect it had on them when children, and yet how they continued to want it repeated to them" (Iona and Peter Opie, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1951], 286). Number 75 in The Annotated Mother Goose, where the rhyme begins: "A man of words and not of deeds / Is like a garden full of weeds."

100.21] Narcissus Festival: a colorful fête held annually in celebration of the Chinese New Year in January, sometimes extending into February. This nameless tall woman will continue to miss the festival throughout the novel (553.32, 568.20, 887.10).

100.30] teeshans red: that is, Titian red.

101.2] Pollyotch: Pagliacci (see 105.3).

101.4] ladonnamobilay: nonsense word corrupted from the popular aria in Verdi's Rigoletto ("La donna è mobile, qual piuma al vento").

101.10] Otto: to the extent that Otto is a partial self-portrait of the younger Gaddis, "Otto" is a pun on the Latin prefix auto- (self), just as Gaddis would use Eigen (Ger. oneself) for his persona in J R.

101.23] The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise: 1919 song by Ernest Seitz (music) and Eugene Lockhart (words). "The classic rendering [...] was by Ted Lewis" (WG/SM). The song is also heard in Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie (1944), sc. 5.

101.43] Who made the first one? [...] First Cause: "We merely pay ourselves with words when we talk about the necessity of a First Cause" (MMM 342).

102.24] The Origin of Design: unidentified; the phrase is used earlier at 98.31. For a while in 1952, WG thought of titling his novel The Origin of Design.

102.31] Hark the herald angels sing: PH #91, words by Charles Wesley, music adapted from Mendelssohn.

102.37] As it had been, and apparently shall ever be: a laconic version of "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end," the concluding words of the Gloria Patri, or lesser doxology.

102.37] gods, superseded, become the devils: "It is a well-known fact that when a new religion is established in any country, the god or gods of the old religion becomes the devil of the new" - from the article on witchcraft in EB (23:686) by the eminent authority Margaret A. Murray. Cf. 536.2-12.

102.40] magic has not despaired: see 12.2.

103.1] wearing winter hearts on their sleeves: "But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve / For daws to peck at" (Othello 1.1.64-65), that is, to make one's feelings obvious.

103.3] Origen: (185?-254?), Christian writer and teacher at Alexandria, one of the Greek fathers of the church, and author of many works (see 420.12). His self-castration is said to have been the result of a too literal reading of Matt. 19:12.

103.5] hoc est corpus meum, Dominus: "this is my body, Lord" (from the Eucharist). Both Legge (FRC 1:92 n2) and Hughes (W 129) suggest “hocus pocus” (103.25) derives from hoc est corpus .

103.13] Miserere nobis: "Have mercy on us" (from the Agnus Dei of the Mass; see 643.39).

103.14] Vae victis: "Woe to the vanquished," a famous quotation from Livy's History (ODQ).

103.17] fear of belonging to another, or to others, or to God: from Eliot's "East Coker": "Do not let me hear / Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly, / Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession, / Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God."

103.5] hoc est corpus meum, Dominus: "this is my body, Lord" (from the Eucharist). Both Legge (FRC 1:92 n2) and Hughes (W 129) suggest “hocus pocus” (103.25) derives from hoc est corpus.

 103.13] Miserere nobis: "Have mercy on us" (from the Agnus Dei of the Mass; see 643.39).

103.14] Vae victis: "Woe to the vanquished," a famous quotation from Livy's History (ODQ).

103.17] fear of belonging to another, or to others, or to God: from Eliot's "East Coker": "Do not let me hear / Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly, / Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession, / Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God."

103.34] Anselm: this major character, whose real name is Arthur (356.19, 642.35), takes his name from Saint Anselm of Canterbury (ca. 1033-1109), Piedmont-born English clergyman and theologian, best known for his ontological argument for the existence of God. See 382.30 ff. and 458.28 ff.

105.3] Pagliacci: Pagliaccio is the jealous husband in Leoncavallo's opera (I) Pagliacci (The Clowns, 1892).

105.13] extensive leisure [...] religious ritual: this argument can be found in part 5 of Josef Pieper's Leisure: The Basis of Culture, introduction by T. S. Eliot (New York: Pantheon, 1952).

105.16] Plato's state [...] the artist: in book 10 of The Republic Plato advises the banishment of the artist for the health of the state.

105.19] Schopenhauer's Transcendental Speculations on Apparent Design in the Fate of the Individual: Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) is considered the chief exponent of philosophic pessimism. This title - which Wyatt will later force a traveler to take down at gunpoint (881.15-34, 887.16-20) - is a book version translated by David Irvine (London: Watts, 1913) of an essay in Schopenhauer's Parerga und Paralipomena (1851). Briefly, Schopenhauer argues that what appears in retrospect to be an apparent design in the fate of an individual is the result of "the inner guidance, the secret pull, which directs everyone accurately to the only path suitable for him" and "that the systematic connectedness which we believe to have apprehended in the events of our lives is no more than an unconscious effect of our regulative and schematising fantasy" (22, 23).

105.21] Greek skeptics: not a school of philosophy but rather a tradition of opposition to dogmatic teachings (usually on the grounds of agnosticism or empiricism). One of the chief representatives of this tradition is Pyrrho of Elis (130.7).

105.37] Juan Gris: (1887-1927), Spanish painter and lithographer, identified with the Cubists.

105.29] symposium on religion: cf. the symposium "Religion and the Intellectuals" in Partisan Review, February 1950. Cf. 352-53 below.

105.32] mummies [...] shaped like a man: these details are from Haggard's DDD (128-29).

108.8] process of individuation: a Jungian concept: by "the so-called process of individuation [...] I mean the psychological process that makes of a human being an 'individual' - a unique, indivisible unit or 'whole man'" (IP 3). Jung considers alchemy to be an allegory of this process.

109.40] La Guita:Spanish slang for money: "dough, bread."

110.11] Sangre negro en mi corazón: Sp.: "Black blood in my heart" (though negro should be negra).

110.35] Esteban: the Spanish form of "Stephen," Wyatt's originally intended name and the one he will assume at the end of the novel.

113.23] Mary Stuart's coffin [...] two strokes: Gross notes this as an example of the unreliability of witnesses (Criminal Investigation, 39).

113.37] one unshaven man alone in a boat: cf. Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea (1952).

115.9] great celestial sea: Lethaby records many instances of the belief of the sky as a celestial sea (AMM 15-16), a belief shared by Charles Fort (87.8). Cf. 257.1-10.

115.22]  John: perhaps named after Gaddis's college friend John Snow, who became a clergyman and remained a lifelong friend. 

118.12] Wyatt: this is the last appearance of his name; he will be nameless until he receives the name Stephan from Mr. Yák (Sinisterra) at the bottom of p. 785, which he later Anglicizes to Stephen. In primitive mythologies, the loss of one's name was the equivalent of the loss of one's soul, and in various myths of the wandering hero, there is usually a period where the hero's name is lost or concealed. Both the difficulties and advantages of allowing Wyatt to go nameless through most of the novel were delineated by Gaddis in a note to himself (quoted in Koenig's "'Splinters from the Yew Tree,'" 99-100):

There are troubles with pronouns, especially "he," in those scenes which, when at all extended, the no-hero - that is Wyatt, becomes lost or confused. To a strong degree this should be so, as, with Valentine (and all the others, but pointedly Basil Valentine) he, the no-hero or not-yet-hero, is what the other person might be: in Valentine's case, the self-who-can-do-more, the creative self if it had not been killed by the other, in Valentine's case, Reason, in Brown's case, material gain; in Otto's case, vanity and ambition; in Stanley's case, the Church; in Anselm's case, religion, &c. &c.

120.11] Saint Jerome in El Greco's painting: an almost naked Saint Jerome, as a penitent before the opening of a cave, painted between 1597 and 1603, and now in the National Gallery in Washington.

120.16] Vainiger: vain Otto consistently mispronounces the surname of Hans Vaihinger (1852-1933), German philosopher. Wyatt has been telling Otto of Vaihinger's The Philosophy of "As If" (see 530.19 ff.).

120.20] Fichte: a loose paraphrase of one of the conclusions reached by Fichte (95.32) in his Die Bestimmung des Menschen (The Vocation of Man, 1800), book 3 ("Faith").

123.10] You cannt invnt t shpe of a stone: see 463.28.

123.35] Dierick Bouts: see 75.6; Wyatt will later forge two Bouts imitations (288.27).


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