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The Recognitions (1955)

by William Gaddis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,886326,741 (4.29)1 / 160
The book Jonathan Franzen dubbed the "ur-text of postwar fiction" and the "first great cultural critique, which, even if Heller and Pynchon hadn't read it while composing Catch-22 and V, managed to anticipate the spirit of both" The Recognitions is a masterwork about art and forgery, and the increasingly thin line between the counterfeit and the fake. Gaddis anticipates by almost half a century the crisis of reality that we currently face, where the real and the virtual are combining in alarming ways, and the sources of legitimacy and power are often obscure to us.… (more)
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» See also 160 mentions

English (30)  German (1)  All (1)  All languages (32)
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
If you're on the fence about whether you should read this, read William H. Gass's introduction (in this edition the afterward). It is a book of such tremendous scope. I definitely did not get every connection, every structural reference or articulation, but getting them all is not the point. Nor is knowing the references, or following completely and mechanically the webbed mappings between characters. It will come. This is one of the best books I've read.

Also no one writes dialog like this, which is probably good for my heart and anxiety. I had to stop reading this in the mornings.

I read this mixed between this edition and the Nick Sullivan (Audible) recording, which is a triumph of the form. Sullivan does different voices, so the Gaddis method of the quote-dash to initiate dialog without terminating it becomes more demarcated. Getting exposed to this helped me learn to differentiate speech from description when reading, though it never fully congeals. ( )
1 vote jtth | Aug 17, 2021 |
Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhA7P8pPosI
Written Review: https://www.thisissplice.co.uk/2020/10/21/with-high-regard-though-seldom-played/

- Group reading on Instagram with @therecognitionsbookclub this November-December.
- Group reading on #BookTwitter with #Gaddis2020 this November-December (thanks, @ReemK10).

READ THIS BOOK! ( )
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
I first read The Recognitions around a decade ago, and when I added it to GoodReads some years later, I had this to say: "A great book (if at times a slow-going one), but inferior in my opinion to Gaddis's JR."

I've just finished a reread, and I suppose I agree with the assessment still, though I found the book more annoying than great this time through. It is surely ambitious. During this read, I felt like the ratio of content I found pleasurable or valuable to content that didn't make sense to me or seemed extraneous was a bit high. So there's greatness afoot here, but I think maybe it's not consistent or rewarding enough to see me through a third read of the book down the line. Compare to J R, which I've read several times already and which I'll continue to read every few years because it is full of humor, satire, anguish, bitterness, ambition, and music.

( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
the affectations/the degradations/the ramifications

the first chapter was pretty killer. the ending hit the spot. ( )
  stravinsky | Jan 1, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gaddis, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gass, William H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Halverson, JanetCover designersecondary 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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The book Jonathan Franzen dubbed the "ur-text of postwar fiction" and the "first great cultural critique, which, even if Heller and Pynchon hadn't read it while composing Catch-22 and V, managed to anticipate the spirit of both" The Recognitions is a masterwork about art and forgery, and the increasingly thin line between the counterfeit and the fake. Gaddis anticipates by almost half a century the crisis of reality that we currently face, where the real and the virtual are combining in alarming ways, and the sources of legitimacy and power are often obscure to us.

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