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The Recognitions (American Literature (Dalkey Archive)) [Paperback]

William Gaddis
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Feb 2012 American Literature (Dalkey Archive)
Wyatt Gwyon's desire to forge is not driven by larceny but from love. Exactingly faithful to the spirit and letter of the Flemish masters, he produces uncannily accurate 'originals' - pictures the painters themselves might have envied. In an age of counterfeit emotion and taste, the real and fake have become indistinguishable; yet Gwyon's forgeries reflect a truth that others cannot touch - cannot even recognize. Contemporary life collapses the distinction between the 'real' and the 'virtual' world, and Gaddis' novel pre-empts our common obsessions by almost half a century. This novel tackles the blurring of perceptual boundaries, The Matrix and Bladerunner pale in comparison to this epic novel.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Paperback: 956 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; Reprint edition (7 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564786919
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564786913
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 5.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 358,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

WILLIAM GADDIS (1922-98) was one of the greatest writers in twentieth-century America. He wrote five novels and won two National Book Awards, for JR (1976) and for A Frolic of His Own (1995). His other landmark novels include: The Recognitions (1955) and Carpenter's Gothic (1985). Agapc Agape was published by Atlantic in 2002. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The Recognitions is an amazing work of literature, as funny
as it is moving and as confounding as it is entertaining.
Gaddis work is often compared to Thomas Pynchon, perhaps because
of his tendency to mix absurd character names and slapstick comedy amidst
serious situations. But whereas Pynchon's work is mostly plot driven, with
characters simply providing the outlet for the author's ideas, Gaddis is
brilliant at creating realistic characters whose words and ideas mainatin
the momentum of the work.

In almost every passage of The Recognitions, there is some glorious pay off,
some action or statement that you'll read again and again so as not to forget it,
only to move on to the next passage and be more throroughly moved. Easily the most
rewarding reading experience I have had in years.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Gaddis' masterpiece has been regarded as "impenetrable" since its late 50s publication. Time to revisit it nearly 40-years later. One of it's dozens of themes is a New York art forger who turns out perfect, bogus, "newly discovered" Van Eycks in his loft. The forgeries pass the most intense scrutiny by art- and Van Eyck scholars and are sold for vast sums. The forger and his dealer gradually realize the single flaw: No 20th century person can recreate a 17th century perception.
Similarly, no intelligent 1999 reader will recreate the wrong-headed obtuseness of 1950s reviewers. Beside being a masterpiece, Gawd, it's a hilarious skewering of pretentiousness.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most important book of the 20th century 31 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"The Recognitions" is the most important book of the past 100 years. William Gaddis was America's Joyce, America's Dickens. And too few people know who he is (or was, now). If you've never read him, do, and start here: "The Recognitions" is a big, beautiful, sprawling, hilarious, crazed trip through the world of counterfeiters (this word has myriad meanings in this novel) and groupies. Read it, if only to see how great America's literary tradition could have been if a few more writers had one-quarter Gaddis' courage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The finest American novel 20 Jun 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This novel should be de rigeur reading in all American colleges. While not a perfect novel, it has come as close as any I've ever read. It is a densly complex, humorous portrait, not only of America, but also of existence.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's good 17 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is an incredible novel for a thirty-year old; the problem is that Gaddis, as a first-timer, tries too hard in spots. The characters are too articulately inarticulate, the mythological references too ostentatiously used, and the mood is sometimes lost when the prose is piled on it. However, it has the subtlest humor and the harshest satire of any American book. Many passages are perfectly pitched, (the scene with Wyatt's breakdown is funny!), and the characters are a bunch of lost souls desperately seeking...something.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars too beautiful for words 8 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
When asked to explain The Recognitions, to cover all its unforgettable characters, exceptional dialogue, or breathtaking prose, you find yourself at a loss for words... Why this novel so unread is beyond me. Its big, yes, but goes by quickly; it has loads of references, yes, but who cares: if you get them, fine, if you don't, don't sweat it--they're not integral to the story. I think the biggest misconception is that the book is difficult. It is not. Not like Ulysses, or Gravity's Rainbow (must reads, too!)... it's simply a beautiful book full of characters you'll never forget. And it's hilarious to boot. Do yourself a favour and read it!
Shall I sing the love song of Otto & Esme?
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