pp. 1-2

william gaddis's the recognitions was published in 1955      its a great
novel, as much the novel of our generation as ulysses was of its      it
only sold a few thousand copies because the critics did a lousy job—

—2 critics boasted they didnt finish the book

—one critic made 7 boners       others got wrong the number of
    pages, year, price, publisher, author, & title

—& other incredible boners like mistaking a diabetic for a narcotics

—one critic stole part of his review from the blurb, part from
   another review

—one critic called the book "disgusting" "evil" "foul-mouthed,"
   needs "to have its mouth washed out with lye soap"      others
   were contemptuous or condescending

—2 of 55 reviews were adequate       the others were amateurish
   & incompetent

failing to recognize the greatness of the book

failing to convey to the reader what the book is like, what its
essential qualities are

counterfeiting this with stereotyped preconceptions—the
standard cliches about a book that is "ambitious," "erudite,"
"long," "negative," etc

counterfeiting competence with inhuman jargon

—constructive suggestion: fire the bastards!
i 1st heard of the recognitions from a review in the new yorker      the
reviewer said the book was like ulysses but not as good      in his own
anonymous condescending & selfdamning words:
In form, content, length, and richness of imagery, as well as in
syntax, punctuation, and even typography, this novel challenges the
reader to compare it with Joyce's "Ulysses." So challenged, the
reader is obliged to say that while Mr. Gaddis has been very brave,
Shem the Penman has won the day.
(posing as "the reader" instead of "i" is a trick to pretend modesty
while assuming an undeserved impersonal authority       he means his
opinion as a mere human being       or mine or yours or anyones      is
sneerable at       but after "the reader" is hired by Authority, paid a few
measly bucks for a few spotty hours reading, "the reader" becomes
     god?      objective?      full of rich status?      or still the same idiot,
playing it safe)

i was lucky not to read a dead indifferent review but a vicious one that
caught my interest       mulish i figured a book could fall short of
ulysses & still be pretty good      so i got it

like the imbecile critics i was rattled at 1st by the length of the book,
over 400000 words       so i started skipping around & reading back-
wards & forwards from the middle       after a few days i was quite
confused       "whats this guy trying to do" id ask my friends      "is he
nuts or has he really got something?"       a balanced, judicious view

i was still getting into the book & getting used to the toneddown
narrative style, new to me       but suppose i was a hack reviewer,
educated by years of fakework to think no books worth reading
carefully unless everyones already read it       condemned to review
heaps of mediocre books in less than no time       wouldnt i have had
to       wouldnt i have seized the opportunity to write at the moment of
maximum confusion       wouldnt my inner magician force me to rush
the job without waiting to come to terms with what was new to me
      disguise my ignorance with yawny jargon & clever remarks about
whatever i didnt understand       & for safety, the latest catchphrases
from the Frightened Philistines of the times & saturday review      &
what if i more or less secretly hated good books?

not being a hack reviewer i could go on reading the recognitions
instead of forgetting it amid the 10 most worthless books of the
month       years after, i was still drawn by its fascination & kept re-
reading it       & i swear by all the work ive done & will do that the
is a great work of art       before the mass public i know of
no great novel that was permanently defeated by the enemies of art.
but it is now possible, in this indifferent decadent time, and it must not
      for years after the fake reviewers forced gaddis's book into
the remainder piles it was as forgotten as if we had no glorious
publishing industry with glorious receptions rooms & big money for
everyone except writers