some things the 55 original critics said with moderate or better insight
& competence       (not all favorable nor do i agree with them all).
berger (see p72 above)       bloom: "the conflict between deception and
recognition" (& p60 above)       bradley: "his humor the kind that slaps
you full in the face half a dozen pages after you have passed it by".
cahoon: "manages, without mention of war or the atomic bomb, to
chronicle and dissect important aspects of contemporary society"; "A
vast panorama of interlocking plots and recurring phrases and symbols
has been carefully organized into a novel of dimension and power".
coldwell: "It is only recognition of deception that can make a man real".
conroy: "considerably more than a tour de force or an exercise in
scholastic, technical and rhetorical virtuosity. Its essentially earnest
examination of certain maladies of postwar society is both terrifying
and disturbing"       corrington: "A novel like William Gaddis' 'The Recog-
nitions' manages to separate the mature critical mind from that of the
opinionated amateur who would attempt to protect 'custom' or 'the
American way' or any similar fantasy from the uncompromising scrutiny
it deserves"; "we cannot deny the validity of what he has created from
the veiled shame of a world without faith or love" (& deflates the
"balancing" trick p60 above)      dawedeit: "Recognition of patterns
plays a major role in the book's design. Structurally, it combines the
classic, vertical form of organization with the horizontal 'slice of life,' in
alternating episodes. To this frame both long and wide, Gaddis adds a
third dimension through an intricate system of historical, literary,
artistic, musical and religious allusion. he has used many of these as
symbols, or leit motifs, threading them through the novel to splice the
horizontal and vertical beams" (& p9 above)      demarest: "a galactic
gallery of characters, some of whom it is hard to keep track of, but
which range from biting caricatures to studies in depth"; "the author's
zeal for unmasking fraud makes it hard to distinguish Stanley's genuine
faith from the account executive's 'smart' conversion"; "this is, like
Ulysses, a book which has emerged from other books, a product as
much of reading as living"; "But it is also in spite of its faults (which
are the only worthwhile ones of trying to say to much, achieve the
impossible) a genuine and personal book, sui generis (italics: bold-
face)      desbarats (p60 above)      mccarthy: "Wyatt, the son, a man
who can neither find nor lose himself"; knows its camilla whos
"canonized" (& p52 above)       powell: wyatt "oblivious to love and evil
and therefore used by both"       price: knows recktall brown a symbol
of mephistopheles (& p48 above)       rogers: "The novel pictures a
Bedlam, not a place of pure, clean madness, however, but mean and
petty. Indeed the novel itself is a Bedlam irresistibly fascinating; you
can't take your eyes off it, or your mind from it"      snyder (p68 above).
wharton: "Unlike that of 'Ulysses' the inspiration seems Roman rather
than Hellenic"; "some writers of our day who search the past for
nuggets of eloquence, as if to store them up against the Dark Ages
they subconsciously await"       yeiser: "The novel may have some
literary ancestors. If so, they are not easily recognizable. One thinks
first of 'Ulysses,' for several reasons, which are more apparent than

17 critics, 29 quotes—pitiful!       & what the list lacks in quantity it
doesnt make up in quality      a mediocre crew

the 2 competent reviews were by cahoon1 & rogers, both strongly
favorable—as were corrington & stevens (& wagner who didnt read the
book)       really minus reviews were by geismar (& nonreaders wagen-
knecht & the toronto globe & mail hack) & perhaps berger 2

1 of the most favorable reviews was one of the worst      don stevens'
insincere puff in the worcester telegram—a typical jargonized "rave"
review & not a response to the recognitions at all      his 1st para:

  Such a strikingly brilliant and major work as this necessitates a
reviewer's throwing his hat in the air—he has nowhere else to put it,
having lost his head in the intoxication of finding a book of such
magnitude and power.
alexander woollcott lives!      stevens did a little corroborative reading
but mostly steals from the blurb:

                  recognitions blurb
across the big-as-life canvas,
move a score of figures.

they pursue their own desired
Scores of characters move back
and forth within the design, each
one busy in pursuing his own
desired deception.
Wyatt, who forges the paintings
of Old Masters
Wyatt, is a painter who forges Old
Mr. Sinisterra, a counterfeiter
Mr. Sinisterra is a honest-to-God
Valentine, the art critic
Basil Valentine, the corrupt and
corrupting art critic
Mrs. Deigh, the literary agent
Agnes Deigh, the distracted
literary agent
Otto, the playwright
Otto, the vain young playwright
Anselm, the poet
Anselm, the acne-ridden poet
For the pattern of forgery is shown
to be emotional and spiritual, as
well as actual—and gaining mo-
mentum each time the world dis-
cards the genuine for the paste-
  The pattern of forgery, emotion-
al and spiritual as well as actual

a world in which the genuine is
continually being discarded in fa-
vor of a successful facsimile.
He's sure to shock and anger as
many as he captivates, but he
should welcome the storm of con-
  Readers may be shocked, or
angered, or frightened

a thesis and a point of view which
cannot escape being controversial

quoting from the blurb without credits not rare3      the whole louisville
notice was stolen from the blurb      favorite blurbphrase
was "pattern of forgery, emotional and spiritual as well as actual"
(plagiarized by burnette corrington klein & stevens)      FIRE them all
for theft

1for the library journal—a bunch of cheap crooks!      on the copy of the review
they sent the publisher was a form request for a bribe: "A LIBRARY JOURNAL
review in the MAR 15 1955 issue. Achieve the sales potential implicit in this
review by advertising in the next possible issue" (Back)

2relatively favorable (by my application of book review digest standards): key #s
8 11 12 13 16 17 28 39 46 50 62 68 71 83 84 85      relatively unfavorable: 3 9
18 35 40 52 53 56 78      noncommittal: twentyone reviews (Back)

3one reviewer wrote me that when i object to this i only arbitrarily "set up" my
"own ground-rules" -- he might also argue that the more a critic steals from the
blurb the less room for boners of his own (Back)