|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions|
Pages 78-153; ca. 1946-spring 1949
Some seven or eight years after leaving Paris, Wyatt is living in New York City and employed as a draftsman. He occasionally designs bridges to which his supervisor, Benny, signs his name, and he also restores a few paintings on the side, but he has done no original work since Paris. He has married (at her suggestion) a woman named Esther, an aspiring writer with a promiscuous "Village past." Their relationship is a study in futility, and the tension is compounded when they meet Otto Pivner, an aspiring playwright who recently left Harvard (whether he graduated with a degree is unsaid). Frustrated, finally, with both his job and his wife (and surely guessing of her adultery with Otto), Wyatt leaves both to forge paintings for Recktall Brown, whom he meets as a result of (or at least following) an infernal conjuration. Otto moves in with Esther; Benny fails to persuade Wyatt to return to his job. After a year or so, Otto too leaves Esther, and his place is quickly taken by a crass adman named Ellery. From the middle of this chapter onward, Wyatt is nameless.