Abbreviated Sources
and References

Annotations: title,
epigraph and

Part I

Part II

Part III

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

 A Census of
The Recognitions

-- in printable Word document format

This listing of characters in The Recognitions and their appearances was first compiled by Anja Zeidler in May 2003 and subsequently amplified and amended by members of both the annotations group and the Gaddis-l discussion group. It's presented in Word document format for printing to use when reading away from the computer.

Readers everywhere are invited to send suggestions
for additions or corrections.


Main characters
with quotations from Steven Moore's William Gaddis, Boston: Twayne, 1989.

CAMILLA "For Wyatt [she is] the idealized figure Graves calls the White Goddess – at once girl, mother, and hag, and patroness of the white magic of art." (27)

ESME "One of the strangest yet memorable heroines in contemporary literature, Esme betrays the absurdities of the role of romantic redemptress forced upon so many female characters by males who prefer virgins and whores to any more complex woman in between." (49)

ESTHER "Esther is rational, big-boned, ambitious, and writes prose." (46)

AGNES DEIGH "Agnes and her flock skip over friendship and its perils and simply exchange the 'flowers' of friendship – […] empty civilities that counterfeit sincere friendship." (62)

WYATT "Wyatt – like every true mystic, alchemist, and magician before him – searches for a window on that transcendent state where suddenly "Everything [is] freed into one recognition" (R, 92)." (16)

REVEREND GWYON "Reverend Gwyon abandons his son first for the Son, then for the Sun." (57)

OTTO "a comic double, a funhouse mirror reflection of the 'refugee artist,' […] a ludicrous counterpart to Wyatt." (41).

RECKTALL BROWN "Gaddis arrays Brown in all the trappings of the twentieth-century devil, a Mammon of the modern world." (49)

BASIL VALENTINE "Graced with taste, intelligence, and 'the best education money can buy' (R, 364), Valentine uses these gifts to place as much distance as possible between himself and others." (52)

ANSELM "Anselm is an enemy not of the religious but of the religiose. [He] veers violently between fierce blasphemy and a grudging respect for Christ's teachings." (55)

STANLEY "Reminiscent of Dostoyevski's Prince Myshkin or Alyosha Karamazov, Stanley is the holy fool of The Recognitions, moving through its sordid scenes with unassailable purity and goodwill." (53)

FRANK SINISTERRA "A comic voice in the novel's aesthetic debate, Sinisterra exemplifies the danger of overreliance on heartless virtuosity." (58)

MR. PIVNER "At the quiet center of the novel, Mr. Pivner is Gaddis's Willy Loman, and his failure is a similar tragedy for the common man." (60)


      back to The Recognitions index page

All contents © 2000-2005 by the Gaddis Annotations site and the original authors, contributors, publishers, and publications.