William Gaddis

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William Gaddis

Author profile


born
in New York, New York, The United States
December 29, 1922

died
December 17, 1998

gender
male

website

genre


About this author

William Gaddis was the author of four very complex novels (he completed an as-yet-unpublished fifth book, a non-fictional study of the player piano, called Agape Agape, before he passed away) and an artist inclined to avoid the trappings of celebrity. Gaddis was born in New York December 29, 1922. He went on to Harvard, but was asked to leave the college in his senior year (the circumstances of the situation are mysterious, and await the unfortunate biographer). He worked for The New Yorker for a spell in the 1950s, and absorbed experiences at the bohemian parties and happenings, to be later used as material in The Recognitions. Travel provided further resources of experience in Mexico, in Costa Rica, in Spain and Africa and, perhaps strang ...more


Average rating: 4.08 · 6,869 ratings · 754 reviews · 9 distinct works · Similar authors
The Recognitions
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4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 2,542 ratings — published 1955 — 19 editions
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JR
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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 1,453 ratings — published 1975 — 20 editions
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A Frolic of His Own
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 857 ratings — published 1994 — 11 editions
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Carpenter's Gothic
3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 859 ratings — published 1985 — 9 editions
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Agapē Agape
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 666 ratings — published 2002 — 19 editions
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The Rush for Second Place: ...
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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66 avg rating — 123 ratings — published 2002 — 5 editions
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The Letters of William Gaddis
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4.42 of 5 stars 4.42 avg rating — 38 ratings — published 2013 — 3 editions
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Untitled
0.0 of 5 stars 0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings
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The Paris Review Interviews...
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4.37 of 5 stars 4.37 avg rating — 332 ratings — published 2006 — 6 editions
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More books by William Gaddis…
“Justice? -- You get justice in the next world. In this one you have the law.”
William Gaddis, A Frolic of His Own

“How ... how fragile situations are. But not tenuous. Delicate, but not flimsy, not indulgent. Delicate, that's why they keep breaking, they must break and you must get the pieces together and show it before it breaks again, or put them aside for a moment when something else breaks and turn to that, and all this keeps going on. That's why most writing now, if you read it they go on one two three four and tell you what happened like newspaper accounts, no adjectives, no long sentences, no tricks they pretend, and they finally believe that they really believe that the way they saw it is the way it is ... it never takes your breath away, telling you things you already know, laying everything out flat, as though the terms and the time, and the nature and the movement of everything were secrets of the same magnitude. They write for people who read with the surface of their minds, people with reading habits that make the smallest demands on them, people brought up reading for facts, who know what's going to come next and want to know what's coming next, and get angry at surprises. Clarity's essential, and detail, no fake mysticism, the facts are bad enough. But we're embarrassed for people who tell too much, and tell it without surprise. How does he know what happened? unless it's one unshaven man alone in a boat, changing I to he, and how often do you get a man alone in a boat, in all this ... all this ... Listen, there are so many delicate fixtures, moving toward you, you'll see. Like a man going into a dark room, holding his hands down guarding his parts for fear of a table corner, and ... Why, all this around us is for people who can keep their balance only in the light, where they move as though nothing were fragile, nothing tempered by possibility, and all of a sudden bang! something breaks. Then you have to stop and put the pieces together again. But you never can put them back together quite the same way. You stop when you can and expose things, and leave them within reach, and others come on by themselves, and they break, and even then you may put the pieces aside just out of reach until you can bring them back and show them, put together slightly different, maybe a little more enduring, until you've broken it and picked up the pieces enough times, and you have the whole thing in all its dimensions. But the discipline, the detail, it's just ... sometimes the accumulation is too much to bear.”
William Gaddis, The Recognitions

“I know you, I know you. You're the only serious person in the room, aren't you, the only one who understands, and you can prove it by the fact that you've never finished a single thing in your life. You're the only well-educated person, because you never went to college, and you resent education, you resent social ease, you resent good manners, you resent success, you resent any kind of success, you resent God, you resent Christ, you resent thousand-dollar bills, you resent Christmas, by God, you resent happiness, you resent happiness itself, because none of that's real. What is real, then? Nothing's real to you that isn't part of your own past, real life, a swamp of failures, of social, sexual, financial, personal...spiritual failure. Real life. You poor bastard. You don't know what real life is, you've never been near it. All you have is a thousand intellectualized ideas about life. But life? Have you ever measured yourself against anything but your own lousy past? Have you ever faced anything outside yourself? Life! You poor bastard.”
William Gaddis, The Recognitions

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