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The Recognitions (American Literature…
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The Recognitions (American Literature (Dalkey Archive)) (original 1955; edition 2012)

by William Gaddis, William H. Gass (Introduction)

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1,341195,776 (4.39)1 / 130
Member:LitClique
Title:The Recognitions (American Literature (Dalkey Archive))
Authors:William Gaddis
Other authors:William H. Gass (Introduction)
Info:Dalkey Archive Press (2012), Paperback, 976 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:bookworms, read2013

Work details

The Recognitions by William Gaddis (1955)

  1. 00
    Men in Space by Tom McCarthy (michaeljohn)
    michaeljohn: Both are postmodern novels centering around art forgery.
  2. 00
    What's Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies (erezv)
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English (17)  German (1)  English (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
170) The Recognitions William Gaddis
★★ for enjoyment ★★★★ for the moments of linguistic genius

The 1001 books to read before you die say this is a book about defining what is true by looking at the way that everything can be faked, published in 1955 it covers forgery, plagarism, counterfeiting and plain old lying there is also a lot of heavy religious overtones.

In its way it is a circular novel we start with a priest who has decided to cover all religions and science in his sermons and eventually his quest to understand leads to the physical destruction of his church and his removal from his post. It ends with Stanley who has always wanted to play the organ in a famous church in Italy he writes his own mass however as he begins to play the church collapses crushing him.

The novel centres around the lives of several (and I can think of no better word for them) pretentious Americans living in New York who believe they know everything about everything and when they dont they pretend they do. The main character (according to 1001) is Wyatt a gifted artist who has now turned his talents to forgery, he doesn't copy the old masters he creates new masterpieces in their names which art dealer Brown then gets authenticated and sold.

At 1100 pages the point about fake and real is certainly banged home however I lost interest in the characters and found it hard to keep track of them especially as in different sections they are given different names to allow the storyline to progress and you are left identifying them by physical attributes a man with black sling (for fake injury) the tall woman etc also the womens names include Esme, Esther and Edna try keeping them secret when they are hundred of pages between each appearance.

The story came to what I felt was a natural conclusion about 80% of the way through the book by no Gaddis decided to carry on with a religious pilgrimage to Spain aboard a ship which lead to suicide possible murder and possession to be honest I was so bored by now I just couldnt keep up with what had happened and to who.

As if the boredom wasn't bad enough you need to know Latin, Spanish, Italian and German as some sections switch language in the middle and Gaddis does not provide the translations at all so you either look it up or miss out on what could be great observations (must confess I went down the miss our route although some Spanish and German I could make out)

Now you know how much I hated most of the book let me share some moments of genius

"her search for Reason was always interrupted by reasons"

"An accident! He ties a rope around his neck and climbs out a window, but the rope breaks and he falls forty-six stories, so its an accident?"

"stopping every ten or twelve yards to open the huge maw at its back and masticate the immense portions left out to appease it with gnashings of reckless proportions, glass smashed and wood splintered between its bloodless gums" to describe a garbage truck

So as you can see at points the humour made me laugh, I loved the poetical treatment of the everyday but it just wasnt enough to rescue the novel overall. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race . . . and for what . . . meaningless a chasing after the wind. ( )
  DavidCLDriedger | Apr 22, 2015 |
Confessional! What do you get when you combine these factors: a reading list still over 4,000 titles long, Book Challenge rules which address when to not read a book, and a book 956 pages long with a plot no one can explain? Me, quitting this book! I read plenty of other reviews urging me to "stick with it" and to "keep reading despite the nonsense." Can't do it. Not one of the reviews really told me what the book was about except in some obscure and round-about way involving art, religion and the postmodern condition, all the (many) characters are seemingly adrift with endless and pointless dialogues, and there never seemed to be an end to the literacy allusions and absurdity. There. I said it. Hated it with two thumbs down. Maybe, when I'm feeling a bit more scholarly and have all the time in the world, I'll pick it up again. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Dec 8, 2014 |
... and a half.

"They try to say their paintings are the spirit of the times, don't you know, but good heaven's aren't the times bad enough without having pictures of it hanging all over the place?" ( )
1 vote | lawrenh | May 14, 2014 |
in a move i already hate, and with all these cold months to come, i've left myself only a few books, actual physical books, with like pages you can write on and never quite erase, for my eh pleasure. I just get so overwhelmed when i got stacks of interesting stuff when i am only available to take in one text at a time. how else could i possibly get myself around such a masterful pizzle ( )
  wensley | Dec 20, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gaddis, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gass, William H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Nihil cavum neque sine signo apud Deum.
Irenaeus, Adversus haereses

{Nothing is empty or lacking significance to God.}
Dedication
For Sarah

The awakened, lips parted, the hope, the new ships
First words
Even Camilla had enjoyed masquerades, of the safe sort where the mask may be dropped at the critical moment it presumes itself as reality.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A novel of forgery, emotional and spiritual, as well as actual, with background ranging from New York and New England to a monastery outside Madrid.

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