Talk:William Gaddis

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What does "omne ignotum per obscaenum" mean? I know that it must be latin phrase, but I've yet to find a definition...

The Latin phrases page lists "omne ignotum pro magnifico" as "all that is unknown, appears magnificent," so I would guess that this phrase is intended to have a contrasting meaning; "all that is unknown, appears obscene." However, the phrase gets no google hits beyond mirrors of this page [1], so it seems that this is the article author's twist on a known phrase [2].
Perhaps the sentence should be rewritten in English. It's probably needlessly hard to understand for readers unfamiliar with Latin at the moment. 14:41, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

I don't now about DeLillo, but is there any concrete evidence that Thomas Pynchon was "influenced" by William Gaddis? It is entirely possible that Pynchon never laid hands on a book by Gaddis.

There's no concrete evidence, and influence is a tricky thing, but having read them both, I'd argue there's a strong case to be made for Gaddis's influence on Pynchon. A number of essays have been written on the subject: see here, for example. (dan visel 20:50, 22 February 2006 (UTC))
I picked an article almost at random from that page. Here's a quote from it: "[I]t is because Gaddis and Pynchon have read so many of the same authors, rather than each other, that so many similarities can be discerned" (from "Parallel, not Series" by Steven Moore, full references there). Steven Moore is the author of "William Gaddis" and a reader's guide to "The Recognitions", as well as the maintainer of Isn't it at least excessive to claim that he "clearly" influenced Pynchon? And if the issue of "influence" is such a tricky thing, shouldn't it be avoided in an encyclopaedia article?
From 501 Great Writers, edited by Julian Patrick, Page 467, "William Gaddis was one of the postwar literary giants, whose work influenced the development of postmodern literature and writers such as Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, and Christopher Wunderlee." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:02, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

I've added rudimentary pages of their own for Gaddis's six books, with links to the Gaddis annotation page for each (except for Rush, which has none?). Probably worth adding Jack Green and Fire the Bastards! as well. (dan visel 20:51, 22 February 2006 (UTC))

Is there any reason to think that JR from the TV show Dallas is a reference to Gaddis's JR?

Some information for Jack Green and his book "Fire the Bastards!" can be found at this site. You can read here more information on Gaddis, Pynchon, and Green. I think Green and Gaddis are one and the same and so does Bibliophile Bookbase here.Hesterloli 04:56, 1 September 2007 (UTC)hesterloli

There's more on Jack Green in the introduction to the Dalkey Archive Press edition. He isn't Gaddis.Roger Allen (talk) 08:20, 15 September 2008 (UTC)


Franzen should not be included as an "admirer" of Gaddis'. He has twice written strong criticism of what he sees as 'overly intellectual' narration, and famously attacked Gaddis in particular in two essays, most notably in "Harper's". In fact, his criticism has prompted responses from David Foster Wallace and William Gass, both of whom defended Gaddis.

The Harper's essay is a criticism of Gaddis' later works, but Franzen still states his admiration for The Recognitions in the essay. However, it would be OK to remove Franzen from the list. Torerye 10:48, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree that Franzen ought to be pulled from the list; even if he expresses some admiration, he expresses a lot of criticism as well, and it doesn't seem quite right to have his name in there without serious qualification. Actually, his essays about Gaddis caused enough of a stir that it may be worth giving them a small subsection here... --Khazar (talk) 16:58, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. An admirer kicking and screaming is still an admirer. Who goes to the trouble of writing criticism of something he truly disdains (yes, of course, "Critics with a capital C" do, but if that is what Franzen is then there is a better reason for pulling him)? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:09, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't think Franzen belongs on here at all. He has written extensively (as noted) concerning his disdain for "Mr. Difficult" as he called Gaddis. He is not an admirer. He has written that he once admired Gaddis, but no longer. Probably most troubling about including Franzen -- he is clearly NOT influenced by Gaddis. Franzen writes strict realism - Gaddis couldn't be further from it. Saying Franzen was influenced by Gaddis is like saying Vladmir Nabokov was influenced by Jane Austen because he once mentioned her during a lecture. Eesome (talk) 20:43, 13 June 2013 (UTC)eesome

Talk about people who haven't read the Anxiety of Influence. The Corrections is heavily indebted to the R's. Chip Lambert is a slightly more likeable version of Otto Pivner, boards a plane to a failed state like Otto, repeatedly rewrites a (bad) play like Otto (Gaddis, incidentally, did the same thing, though he eventually stitched it into Frolic). Mr. Difficult admits as much. Franzen is famous for having Oedipal relationships with male writers (read his carping and invidious "eulogy" of Wallace, whom he definitely admired, to see). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:33, 13 June 2016 (UTC)


The Recognitions[edit]


Carpenter's Gothic[edit]

A Frolic of His Own[edit]

It's inaccurate that the main narrative in A Frolic of His Own is a satire of the litigation around Richard Serra's Tilted Arc. There is a subsidiary plot concerning a sculptor named Szyrk who is the creator of a series of public sculptures called Cyclone 7 that is likely inspired by the controversies around Tilted Arc, but the main plot concerns a history professor named Oscar Crease who is suing the producers of a civil war film entitled The Blood in the Red White and Blue for plagiarizing his play Once at Antietam. Some have suggested Gaddis' inspiration for the main plot was the Buchwald v. Paramount case. I don't know if this has been confirmed by his children or if there is evidence in the collection of Gaddis' papers at Washington University in St. Louis to support this.

Legacy and Influence[edit]

Why is this in here at all?

Jonathan Franzen, who in an essay in The New Yorker called Gaddis "an old literary hero of mine", dubbed him 'Mr. Difficult', stating that "by a comfortable margin, the most difficult book I ever voluntarily read in its entirety was Gaddis' nine-hundred-and-fifty-six-page first novel, The Recognitions."[9] Franzen continued: "In the four decades following the publication of The Recognitions, Gaddis's work grew angrier and angrier. It's a signature paradox of literary postmodernism: the writer whose least angry work was written first."

For one, it omits Franzen's entire thesis of the essay. Secondly, it seems to have nothing to do with influence - calling someone a literary hero does not mean you were influenced by them, nor does saying it was the most difficult book. Finally, the entire final sentence, i.e. "Franzen continued..." makes a value judgment that has nothing to do with an article about Gaddis. It is Franzen's opinion of Gaddis' work, which Franzen has admitted he could not read. How does this provide readers with information about Gaddis in an objective manner? Eesome (talk) 21:00, 13 June 2013 (UTC)eesome

Yeah he's kind of a tard. don't know why he won teh book award heheheheh. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:04, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Is there a way to come to a consensus on this and thus alter it? I think mentioning Franzen's essay is of note, and there are certainly other authors who have stated or been mentioned as having been influenced by Gaddis; however, having Franzen dominate this section seems subjective and off topic. Eesome (talk) 18:16, 9 July 2014 (UTC)Eesome

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