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May 29, 2012, 5:59 am

I just started The Recognitions last night, read to page forty something, and am wondering why it is compared to Joyce in terms of difficulty. Is there an acrostic I missed? Any Gaddis readers here? To clarify, so far I am delighted with virtually every page.

Edited: May 29, 2012, 9:14 am

I read The Recognitions a few years ago. Fantastic book. Bloody hard. When the dialogue gets going, it's especially hard to separate the narrative voice from the different characters' voices, due to Gaddis's use of the dash- used also in French, and in Joyce. The range of references is enormous.

Freeeque would be pleased to know you are reading it. We did talk about a group read some time ago. Freeque and Beelzebubba also put together the Legacy library for Gaddis on LT. Looking through Gaddis library to get a sense of his reading might help identify some of his references.

May 29, 2012, 9:15 am

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

May 29, 2012, 9:37 am

Yes, certainly the references are eclectic, but the sense is clear, and though the sentences occasionally require a second read, that generally means they are more pleasurable. I am thus far mystified at the reputation for being difficult to penetrate.

May 29, 2012, 1:27 pm

Ack! Another book in my wishlist! I had never heard of this one I think, but it sounds very interesting.

I think the definition and criteria for "hard to read" are very subjective and dependent on the reader and environment a lot. I personally don't mind not understanding everything I read. Though some books demand more concentration than others, and concentration is not always easy to attain in our world.

I enjoyed the first chapter of Ulysses immensely, but it did get more difficult after that. Maybe something similar will happen to you with this book, but I do hope you keep enjoying it. Let us know!

May 29, 2012, 8:56 pm

Ack, too!

The Recognitions is on this hoarder's "To Be Read - Owned" pile.

(Don't tell the 'Freeque) but I kinda enjoyed Ulysses. I'll get to this one, too.

May 29, 2012, 9:25 pm

May 30, 2012, 5:02 am


I already have seen that. I'm stiil awaiting befuddlement. from what I have seen, I think my long string of especially Central and South American authors has trained me to read...and Recognitions is older than I am...

May 30, 2012, 5:09 pm

Over the years, I have twice started and attempted to read The Recognitions, in 1997, when I read some 80-odd pages, and in 2001, when I abandoned after 40 pages. It is definitely hard to read, but each time I also had the feeling I tremedously enjoyed it. I just feel I am not quite ready for this book.

Jun 1, 2012, 7:05 am

Entering the pages 80 of Gaddis and so far it's a GASS!

Jun 1, 2012, 9:48 pm

Like this, Rick?

I'm currently bogged down with Thus Spoke Zarathustra, but I'll get to The Recognitions, one of these decades.

BTW, thanks for the guidance, Murr.

Jun 2, 2012, 4:53 am

Lots more Gasseosity

Jun 3, 2012, 9:35 pm

I tackled JR many many years ago..... love/hate. Did I finish it? Can't recall at this time.

Jun 4, 2012, 5:08 am

Just read EnriqueFreeque's hilarious review of JR. Gah! Another book in my wishlist.

Jun 4, 2012, 10:10 am

I guess the freeque bought some Facebook bonds

Edited: Jun 11, 2012, 7:20 pm

I have finally passed the halfway point in The Recognitions. Too many thoughts for now, but I do think I like him for his attention to Joyce, and his page by page, sentence by sentence writing is virtually unsurpassable. At time he's outright hilarious, at others his philosophy devaluated to apply to US culture is inspiring.

Jun 11, 2012, 8:59 pm

I like everything by Gaddis I've ever read. I think he perfected the all dialogue / conversation / snatches of overheard speech style also employed by Henry Green and Ivy Compton-Burnett. It might be time for me to pick up JR again.

Jun 19, 2012, 3:38 pm

I have posted my review of Gaddis glad as i was to read the Recognitions. please see review.

Jun 19, 2012, 4:27 pm

Jun 19, 2012, 4:33 pm

the second thumb was mine : )

Jun 19, 2012, 5:34 pm

Oh what a review. I now want to read the book.

Jun 19, 2012, 9:20 pm

super review of a great book, rick! hurrah!

Jun 20, 2012, 9:04 am

stumbling over here after reading Rick's review. The review is terrific, but, goodness, what an intimidating book.

Jun 20, 2012, 10:42 am

I want to read that book too! In about 10 years, when I have finished Infinite Jest and the Bible...