|A Reader's Guide to William Gaddis's
I.7 pp. pages 257-277
257.1] Otia Imperialia [...] Gervase of Tilbury: a collection of medieval legends and superstitions recorded for Otto IV of Germany by Gervase (fl. 1211), English ecclesiastic and writer. The anecdote, as noted earlier (28.32), is from Lethaby (AMM 15).
257.17] heaven and earth joined by a tree [...] sky is a roof: from AMM 12, quoting from Sir Edward Burnett Tylor's Researches into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilisation (3d ed., 1878):
"The sky is to most savages, what is called in the South American language, 'the earth on high,' and we can quite understand the thought of some Paraguayans that at death their souls would go up to heaven by the tree which joins earth and sky. There are holes or windows through the sky-roof or firmament where the rain comes through; and if you climb high enough, you can get through and visit the dwellers above, who look and talk and live very much in the same way as the people upon earth."
257.28] Someone, who was it? said maybe we're fished for: Charles Fort; see 87.8.
257.32] seven heavens of the Arabs: from AMM 24, quoting from Stanley Lane-Poole's The Art of the Saracens in Egypt (1886):
"According to the common opinion of the Arabs, there are seven heavens, one above another, and seven earths, one beneath another; the earth which we inhabit being the highest of the latter, and next below the lowest heaven. [...] Traditions differ respecting the fabric of the seven heavens. In the most credible account, according to a celebrated historian, the first is described as formed of emerald; the second of white silver; the third of large white pearls; the fourth of ruby; the fifth of red gold; the sixth of yellow jacinth; and the seventh of shining light."
258.2] Lilies [...] an Annunciation: the lily, "the flower of pur-i-ty" as Esme says (271.21-22), is traditionally associated with the Virgin Mary, and particularly associated in painting with the Annunciation, in which lilies either are held by the archangel or (as Wyatt intends) are present in a vase.
258.17] Tertullian: (ca.160-230), Latin ecclesiastical writer; Valentine is reading his De Virginibus Velandis (313.6).
258.28] Osiris [...] Isis: this detail is from Legge (FRC 1:34). .
258.37] glassware, it's been in a manure pile [...] Some wop taught me that trick: Signore Nobili mentions this trick in his GAF (254).
258.40] Italia irredenta: "Unredeemed Italy" was the name given to Italian-speaking areas still under foreign control from 1861 to 1920. The term irredentism is thus used for any nationalistic movement seeking to break away from foreign rule and rejoin others of the same nationality.
260.19] eighteenth-century Spanish bishop named Borja: unidentified.
261.14] the ninth century Pope: pope in August and September of 827; his election was largely the result of the efforts of the lay nobility.
261.27] the renegade painter: a phrase sometimes used to describe Cavaradossi in Tosca.
261.37] money [...] binds the contract: Minkoff (247) suggests this is a "parodic debasement" of the blood contract made by Mephistopheles with Faust (ll. 1317-20 ).
262.8] Somerset Maugham: (1874-1965), English writer; his Razor's Edge is mentioned at 638.25.
262.17] Momus and Vulcan: this anecdote is recorded in one of the satirical dialogues of the Greek author Lucian (ca. 120-ca. 180), but Gaddis's source unknown.
262.28] a hero? John Huss: see 32.20.
264.10] Emerson's advice [...] perhaps they are: "Emerson recommended us to treat people as though they were real, and added, 'Perhaps they are.' But the doubt that lingered in the mind of the stately pantheist never entered into that of the Hindu" (AN 6). The quotation is from Emerson's essay "Experience" and is repeated at 315.17.
265.2] What you seek [...] you become its prey: a remark made by Thoreau to Emerson and recorded in the latter's eulogy "Thoreau" (Atlantic Monthly, August 1862). Walking one day with his friend, Thoreau
Valentine appears to be reading Walden: Emerson's quotation is cited in Byron Rees's introduction to his frequently reprinted edition of 1910, and in some editions of Walden Emerson's essay has been printed in full as an introduction. Gaddis later used this quote as the epigraph to A Frolic of His Own. For the significance of this quotation, see J. M. Tyree's “Henry Thoreau, William Gaddis, and the Buried History of an Epigraph.” New England Review 25.4 (Fall 2004): 148-62.
265.8] Seven celestial fabrics [...] Throne of the Compassionate: "'Traditions differ respecting the fabric of the seven heavens [see note to 257.32]. [...] next above the seventh heaven [are] seven seas of light, then an undefined number of veils or separations of different substances seven of each kind, and then Paradise, which consists of seven stages one above another (these are distinguished by the names of precious gems) canopied by the Throne of the Compassionate'" (AMM 24, quoting Lane-Poole).
265.17] music of the spheres: "'The early Pythagoreans further conceived that the heavenly bodies, like other moving bodies, emitted a sound; these they supposed made up a harmonious symphony. Hence they established an analogy between the intervals of the seven planets and the musical scale'" (AMM 21, quoting from Sir G. C. Lewis's An Historical Survey of the Ancients ).
265.32] the Etruscan priest [...] delivering the residence of deity to earth: "'The Etruscan priest who built a sanctuary, traced above in the sky with his wand the foundations which he re-produced on earth - he transported, so to say, upon the earth a part of the sky to make a dwelling for his God'" (AMM 42, quoting from the Comte de Vogüé's La Syrie Centrale [1865-67]).
265.36] Seven days, seven seals [...] Abednego: biblical instances of the magicality of the number seven: "Seven days" refers to the days of Creation, the Holy Week, etc.; "seven seals" from Rev. 5:1; "seven bullocks" (Num. 29:32); "seven times Jacob bowed before Esau" (Gen. 33:3); "seven stars [...] in his right hand" (Rev. 1:20; 4:5; 2:1); "seven years in Eden" (apocryphal?); "seven times seven years to the jubilee trumpet" (Lev. 25:8-9); "seven years of plenty [...] famine" (Gen. 41:29-30); "Nebuchadnezzar heated the furnace seven times" (Dan. 3:19); "the golden image" is described in Dan. 3:1, and the quotation " - Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego" (the three in the furnace) is from Dan. 3:28. (It might be noted this passage occurs in the novel's seventh chapter.)
266.8] Even those who worship other gods worship me although they know it not: so boasts Krishna (see 56.12) in the ninth chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita.
267.13] Let's Do It: "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)" is a 1928 composition by Cole Porter.
267.17] Take a lesson from the lilies: from Matt. 6:28.
268.27] Boyma big man [...] not so strong as Boyma: quoted verbatim from M&R 37; the passage is Lang's reconstruction of how an Australian aborigine may have described his religion to an early settler named Manning, who later used Christian terminology to describe aborigine beliefs, making explicit parallels between the two religions. But Frazer says of Manning that his "evidence on [many] matters of Australian beliefs is open to grave doubt" (unabridged GB, 7:307-8).
269.31] one creation beneath another [...] seven stages, one beneath another: from AMM 24-25, again quoting Lane-Poole on ancient Arab beliefs.
270.1] The lady saint [...] odor of sanc-tity: identified below as Saint Catherine de Ricci (1522-90). "Where St. Catherine of Ricci had walked through the cloister was known to the nuns by the delicious scent that clung even to the flags whereon she had trod." Thus, Summers concludes, "'The odour of sanctity' is more than a mere phrase" (PMM 62).
272.40] In the convent where he came, they tried to soothe and comfort him: Hugo van der Goes (see 230.1).
273.14] In den alten Zeiten [...] "That the sun itself . . .": from "The Frog King," the first story in the Brothers Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmarchen (Nursery and Household Tales, 1812), the tale of a frog who returns a princess's ball from a well in exchange for becoming her friend. Her father the king forces the fickle princess to honor her agreement, but later in a fit of anger she hurls the frog against her bedroom wall, and he falls to the ground a prince. He had been bewitched years before, and upon now being released he marries the princess. The translation that Wyatt interrupts concludes: "that the sun itself, which has seen so much, was astonished whenever it shone on her face."
276.1] Francesca de Serrone: (1557-1600), a Franciscan tertiary. Commenting on those stigmatics who receive "the visible Wound in the side only," Summers says of Francesca: "Every Friday the wound gushed forth blood, which was fragrant with the odour of sweetest violets" (PPM 169).
277.34] Who, if I cried [...] Each single angel . . .: the opening lines of Rilke's first Duino Elegy (in the Leishman-Spender translation ). The interrupted seventh line ends: "Each single angel is terrible." Later Max will steal this piece of paper (299.11-13) and, not recognizing it as Rilke's, publish the poem as his own (622.16 ff.).
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