the "difficult" cliche

a rich novels always "difficult"       unless you hug impoverishment why

the recognitions is a pleasure to reread—& also to read the 1st time.
but not if you treat it like a textbook each paragraph of which has to
be mastered before going on to the next:

  Most readers will find it difficult, if not impossible, to read the full
956 pages of this novel with the careful attention Mr. Gaddis would
like. (mcalister)

The reader may find the going rough and uncertain, but keeps plod-
ding along. (yeiser)

here the plodding readers the serious reader, the partisan review
reader, the textbook grind       but its lively curiosity      not careful
strained attention or "intense scholarly analysis" 1(newsweek)      that
will lead you to dig for more treasure, if not on 1st reading then later.
in the meantime, no need to panic because somethings not clear.
read on! lifting each foot well off the ground

the critics       "rejecting the shell without looking for the pearl" 2en-
vision the tooserious reader but they have the opposite flaw      their
ideals to race thru once carelessly, taking fast notes & faking a review
without ever having made contact with the book      have you ever
read a novel much too fast?      the scenes skim by like a spedup
movie & you get a weird sensation of total contactlessness, of not
knowing the characters in the book, not knowing anything, not know-
ing yourself      simak reports this exact experience:

a puzzling, and at times an exasperating novel. This is not due
alone to the tremendous volume of wordage, but to a willful, de-
liberate abstruseness on the part of the author. At no time does he
level with the reader; he conducts an intricate game of hare-and-
hound in which a panting reader strives desperately to catch up
with him and at times tries futilely to understand what actually has
happened. This gives to the whole work a certain vicious dream-like
character—the kind from which you wake up, if not screaming, at
least badly befuddled.
by definition a "difficult" novels unclear obscure & vague:
  "The Recognitions" is difficult, obscure and confusing. I have
grave doubts about the permanent value of books that put obstacles
in the way of the reader's understanding. (parke)

  His dialogue is often too cryptic to follow and his introductions of
new characters to a situation and even his introductions of new
situations are frequently so vague that the reader is forced to
reread several paragraphs and sometimes pages. (mcalister)

He maintains no single story line, he seldom introduces or directly
identifies his characters, he switches from one to another with only
a hint of explanation, he describes vital episodes from odd angles
so that they cannot be grasped at first reading (highet)

tragic—for the speeding critic
1"A FEW intuitive, sensitive visionaries may understand and comprehend
'Ulysses,' James Joyce's new and mammoth volume, without going through a
course of training or instruction, but the average intelligent reader..." (dr joseph
collins, ny times 5/28/22) (Back)

2henri peyre, writers and their critics (ithaca ny 1944) 218 (Back)