The Recognitions

The Recognitions

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781564786913
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
Publication date: 02/07/2012
Series: American Literature (Dalkey Archive) Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 956
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 2.20(d)

About the Author

William Gaddis (1922-98) stands among the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. The winner of two National Book Awards (for "J R" [1976] and "A Frolic of His Own" [1995]), he wrote five novels during his lifetime, including "Carpenter's Gothic "(1985), "Agap? Agape" (published posthumously in 2002), and his early masterpiece "The Recognitions" (1955). He is loved and admired for his stylistic innovations, his unforgettable characters, his pervasive humor, and the breadth of his intellect and vision.

William Gaddis (1922-98) stands among the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. The winner of two National Book Awards (for "J R" [1976] and "A Frolic of His Own" [1995]), he wrote five novels during his lifetime, including "Carpenter's Gothic "(1985), "Agap? Agape" (published posthumously in 2002), and his early masterpiece "The Recognitions" (1955). He is loved and admired for his stylistic innovations, his unforgettable characters, his pervasive humor, and the breadth of his intellect and vision.

Date of Birth:

December 29, 1922

Date of Death:

December 17, 1998

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Place of Death:

East Hampton, New York

Education:

Attended Harvard University (no degree)

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The Recognitions 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In a habit I sustained in college I make it a practice to underline the most quotable lines of novels I read: The Recognitions has underlines on every page. Gaddis is a major literary talent who hasn't yet even begun to receive the following of which he is worthy. This novel concerns the discoveries, both major and minor, of what is authentic in life: The Recognitions is enlightening, almost beatific, in the way in which it focuses upon the shortcomings and moral lapses of humans in pursuit of true art. From the starving painter whose unappreciated genius leads him to forge Flemish masters to a musician whose copied work played upon a great pipe organ brings down a chapel to counterfeitors of money and plagiarists of drama, this of work of Gaddis is the real thing. It is brilliant, witty, original and his command of the language is breathtakingly stunning in its execution. One can see the influence of James Joyce throughout the writing in an experimental style that is breakthrough. It is incredibly inventive and funny and astonishingly intelligent. It's no wonder that The Recognitions went unrecognized for so tragically long -- Gaddis is, without doubt, one of the top ten American literary novelists of the 20th century ranking with Bellow, Barth, Vonnegut, Hemingway, Gass, Alexander Theroux, Bernard and Faulkner. The writing is work by a fellow of verifiable genius: I strongly recommend that you to discover Gaddis -- he will enrich your life and help you better understand the nature of the personal epiphanies that give meaning to life.
RickHarsch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Skimming or Swimming in GaddisOf course, one can never know if one is reading the original of The Recognitions.Especially as it is packaged by those noble and normally nonpareil packagers Dalkey Archive.Here¿s the entirety of the two blocks of print on back of the book:`¿THE RECOGNITIONS is always spoken of as the most over-looked important work of the last several literary generations¿Through the famous obscurity of THE RECOGNITIONS, Mr. Gaddis has become famous for not being famous enough.¿ --Cynthia Ozick¿`Dubbed by Jonathan Franzen 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.¿Having ordered the book via mail, I read it anyway. And luckily it included an introduction by William Gass that brilliantly challenged me to give the book its due as I went along at any, I think he implied, preferred speed. What I found was neither an ur-text nor the first great anything, although it did have in it much about forgery, fakery, counterfeitery, shallowness, posturing, either as passionately assertive activities of city folk or bumblings of lost city folk, mostly blindly assertive, even as a sort of rings of hell for the tortured honest as can be (¿¿increasingly thin line between the counterfeit and the fake¿¿ ? Is that really what they meant to say? If so, it is not inaccurate, but awfully limiting.).Known as a difficult book that requires patience, I found it a rather easy book that only required that I not think much about the next book I wanted to read. The 956 pages are not large print. Nor, and here is where I¿ll stuff my one use of postmodern, does the book hook the reader, rev up and charge to a distant finish line. Nor do the stories within stories conform to neat spirals as in The Arabian Nights. But that is one of the delights, for Gaddis is as lyrical, philosophical, and funny as he is surprising, his wit ranging from Marxian one-liners (a Renault taken to be a painting), to slapstick (a great bit about a leg driven about Manhattan and how it leads to a false rumor of sexual hijinx¿). One section, or chapter, is in fact a set piece as long as a novel by Dawn Powell or Nathaniel West, two writers who certainly retain their echoes in Gaddis¿ novel.Okay, so what makes the book seem difficult? Well, `big words¿, meaning obscure ones, are scattered throughout¿the average reader would probably have to run to the dictionary 15 to 20 times; there are abstruse references throughout, hopefully a number of them invented by Gaddis, but familiarity with none of which is required to follow or understand the book; and finally, conversation is not clearly demarcated, so that quite often one has to follow the meaning of the text to get who is speaking, be patient before it is revealed who is speaking, or it matters not at all who is speaking.What does the book mean (why does Fraudzen believe it is ur)? Well, yes, the book riffs ontologically throughout on the real, the fake, the fake of the real, the expert of the fake of the originally meaningless real, creating a very intellectually inconvenient, multi-layered mélange of realities that require of the reader precisely the amount of thought the reader would like to apply to the book. Known as a book its readers return to repeatedly, one can readily see why, for there are passages strewn throughout in which Gaddis says lyrically what we all suspect to be true, and even if, over half a century on, these matters are not new, if we have not yet read Gaddis, his way of expressing it is.Rating the book seems
piccoline on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gaddis brilliantly mines the central metaphor of forgery and fraud to explore the diverse worlds of capitalism, art, religion, and the ways we are in the world. Vast, exhausting, formally inventive and daring, the book yet touches the heart as it invades the brain.

Perhaps not the place to start with Gaddis (for that I'd recommend _A Frolic of His Own_) but an unmatched joy of a novel.
RogerRamjet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I find it startling that over a thousand people in Goodreads have reviewed or at least read this book. I would not have expected 1000 people in the whole world to have read this long and extremely difficult book.The value of difficulty in modernist literature is hard for me to appreciate, but this book, while not at the level of Finnegans Wake, certainly embraces that value. To give one example, the endless dialogues where it is impossible to discern who is talking are just boring. However, I gave the book three stars because I very much enjoyed the theme of forging old Masters and the use of and insights into Early Northern Renaissance art, including that of Memling, Van Eyck and especially Hironymous Bosch. The author's use of Bosch's painting of the Seven Deadly Sins which portrayed the Eye of God at the center is haunting. I also gained extra appreciation for the Recognitions after reading Davies' What's Bred in the Bone, another book about forgeries, in which Davies makes his own book a kind of forgery or at least imitation, by mimicking many elements of the Recognitions, from the overall theme, to the use of Northern Renaissance art, to the accounts of clever fakes of Old Masters, to the names of important characters: Ismay/Esme. I have never seen any evidence that Davies had read the Recognitions, but it seems too neat that a book about imitating Masters is also itself an imitation of a Masterwork, which is the Recognitions.
madinkbeard on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite novels. It takes a lot of work to get through it, but it engrossing, funny, and beautifully written. Gaddis is a masterful writer too difficult to ever gain any real popularity, but that's everyone else's loss.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
one of the best books ever written. funny, thrilling, moving, powerful, intelligent & compassionate. gaddis gets a reputation for being a misanthropic old grump, but anyone who believes that completely missed the point of his work.
guitaoist3 More than 1 year ago
i found out about this book months ago and was disappointed that i couldnt buy it right away..out of print! until now thank you! frolic of his own I began and liked immediately, but i hear this one is more epic:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago