the "undisciplined" cliche

who wrote these gems?

He may have a theme. The material may even be connected in his
own mind. If so, the connections are not made clear to me. Such
lack of selectivity as is here manifested I have never encountered in
a novel before; Thomas Wolfe was a mosaic worker in comparison.

  He is the only individual that the writer has encountered outside
of a madhouse who has let flow from his pen random and purpose-
ful thoughts just as they are produced. He does not seek to give
them orderliness, sequence or interdependence.

1st is edward wagenknecht reviewing the recognitions without bother-
ing to finish it

2nd is dr joseph collins in the ny times      its his 5/28/22 review of
joyces ulysses       the worldrecord review for avoiding onesidedness
by "balancing" statements far too pro & con to be reconciled:

"Ulysses" is the most important
contribution that has been made
to fictional literature in the twenti-
eth century. It will immortalize its
The average intelligent reader will
glean little or nothing from it—
even from careful perusal, one
might properly say study, of it—
save bewilderment and a sense
of disgust.
  Mr. Joyce had the good fortune
to be born with a quality which
the world calls genius.

It requires real endurance to fin-
ish "Ulysses."

I am probably the only person,
aside from the author, that has
ever read it twice from beginning
to end.

& adds: "I have learned more psychology and psychiatry from it than
I did in ten years at the Neurological Institute"      its neuropatho-
logical to write that ulysses has no "orderliness, sequence or inter-
dependence"      & just as mad to make the same criticism of the

the legitimate question would be if the 2 books are overdisciplined,
ulysses by its analogies to homer & vico, the recognitions by its
intricate network of cross references      bachs music gives many a
proof that art can easily carry a formal burden (eg canons) that      to
the inquiring mind       seems obviously insupportable      in writing too,
the lively existence of joyces great novel answers the theoretical
question       & in the recognitions the complex framework of reference
& crossreference doesnt interfere at all with the life, vividness of the
characters & events, but magnifies them, gives them added colors &

i open the recognitions at random       its p593, well into esther's
darwinian party       the "scent of lavender" has a long history in the
book, eg used for forgery by both wyatt & sinisterra      when its
esthers sister rose who mentions the poem "A magnet hung in a hard-
ware shop" it takes on mysterious connotations      irony, actually its a
silly song from gilbert & sullivan       the music (too loud), voices (like
waves), benny (moving to desperation), esthers kitten (moving thru
various themes of mistreatment to its death), the little girl from down-
stairs (collecting sleeping pills a few at a time for her mothers suicide)
      are all brought back over & over, in separated snatches at the
party till their development is done      making new echoes at each
rereading       lines 17-21 ("cigarette somewhere"—see p639 line 30) &
23-25 ("he" is the trees of home author, not wyatt) are 2 of many
episodes in the book where someone says whats exactly in key with
feelings your hiding, you answer & it turns out thats not what was
meant       "best sellers" has a number of crossreferences & "My
husband says he stole the plot from the Flying Dutchman, whoever
that is" is one of dozens of such items of "forged culture"—& the
dutchman, in or out of wagners opera, appears on other pp      "Some
faggot writes them for me"—see p314 line 23 for the crossreference.
& so it goes, not a phrase without a definite purpose or purposes

no one who knows the recognitions at all would say its undisciplined.
thats like saying dostoyevskys characters "lack intensity" or strind-
bergs a dream play is "sordid realism"      14 of 55 reviewers did say it!
for just one cliche reason: a "long 1st novel" must by definition be
"undisciplined" & "sprawling":

But the main fault of the novel is a complete lack of discipline.

judgment and discipline, but these are qualities which he plainly
lacks. (hill)

"chaos novel" (powell)

It is a sprawled giant of a book, with little plot but a great deal to
say. (demarest)

The book has the formless disjointed quality of a nightmare. (parke)

to date the one valid criticism of Wolfe is his lack of discipline. In
comparison with Gaddis, Wolfe wore a literary strait-jacket. (simak) uncontrolled exhibition1 ...Like a poem it coheres only in spirit (rugoff      my ellipses)

& bradley ("sprawling" "undisciplined and baffling prose"), burnette
("undisciplined and pretentious" "sprawling prose"), klein ("sprawling"),
mcalister ("the writing is undisciplined"), o'hearn ("undisciplined and
unfulfilled"), stocking ("vast, sprawling")2

the cliche is so tempting that when mccarthy wrote:

tightly knit despite seeming nebulousness [sic]
his headlineman, skimming thru the review as careless as the critics
skimmed thru the recognitions, read it the way it should be:
Brilliant Flashes Illumine
Sprawling, Inchoate Novel
this cliche about this book is such a dead giveaway of not having
really read it that their bosses must FIRE bradley demarest mcalister
o'hearn parke rugoff simak & stocking, to mention only those not
already axed
1not "superbly disciplined" like the waste land (Back)

2of course the prose in the recognitions is no less disciplined than the form

are critics disciplined?       eg, of 38 quotes of ten words or more from the
they misquoted 25       of 21 critics making such quotes 18 got at
least one wrong      (original reviews only)

most misquotes were careless but involved at most meddling with commas &
capitals       but give an american lesion prize to livingston for censoring out the
terrible words "damn it" & "Chrahst"       & coldwell for changing "unchristian" to

a misrepresentation prize to boss smith for making gaddis an ungrammarian:

         the recognitions, p946
         as quoted by smith (my italics)
  Any city that calls herself modern
anticipates all her children's needs,
even to erecting something high for
them to jump from
  Any city which calls itself modern
anticipates all her children's needs,
even to erecting something high for
them to jump from

a quotesmanship award to the new yorker hack for quoting p50 lines 9-15 out of
context & without explaining the crossreferences, thus fraudulently giving the
impression that all of the recognitions is esoteric, incomprehensible & just
"words, words, words"       & to bass who quotes a 5-line list of books from p23 &
says "lists like the following for page after page after page after page"      its a
lie, no such list is more than a few lines long (Back)