Reading Scared

June 21, 2007

This remark from The Modern Word rather perfectly captures my feelings about reading The Recognitions — I am still reeling:

The Recognitions makes one so terrifyingly uncertain about the “unique” or “authentic” nature of experience and art that upon finishing it one cannot be sure one read a novel, as either term may be suspect.



  1. Gee, Ted, your book choices are awe-inspiring to me. I am not sure I could tackle this one, or anything Gaddis. Maybe there’s a way to work my way up? Anyone you’d recommend as a “Junior Gaddis?”

    By the way, what do you think of the Nabokov lectures on DQ? I was quite taken with his elaborate accounting of DQ’s victories and losses.

  2. what a great blog! – my first visit. I found you through Imani. And that quote is very close to my heart, not just from a metaphysical point of view, but from a neuroscientific one as well. I’ll be curious to hear your reaction to Franny & Zooey.
    Have you ever had a go at Richard Powers’ The Goldbug Variations? With my brief glance at your stuff, I think you might really appreciate it!

  3. Thanks to both!

    To LK, the only thing I can think of as a “Junior Gaddis” is Gaddis’ shortest, most accessible novel, Carpenter’s Gothic. But I must hesitate, for I have not read Carpenter’s Gothic, or anything else by Gaddis; I’m just basing this on the myriad multitude of secondary sources on Gaddis I’ve been reading in an attempt to get my mind around it all.

    I’m stuck a bit on Nabokov’s lectures. I’ve been meaning to post on Tilting at Windmills for weeks now, but have been having trouble posting on my own damn blog…

    To Ted: nice to meet you! I hope no-one starts confusing us, since we seem to be posting in the same circles 🙂

    I’m fanatic about Franny and Zooey, as you’ll read soon (hopefully). I have not read The Gold Bug Variations, but it has been hovering — buzzing, even — around outskirts of my radar for a while now. I think I should investigate further to see whether I should have a go. Do you have any suggestions on where I could go to do this, apart from the usual?

  4. can’t wait to read your reactions to Franny and Zooey (and it’s companion book – Raise High the Roofbeams Carpenter & Seymour). For a while I read them both yearly. As for Goldbug… I don’t know of any good stuff on it, although there are a few good interviews w/ Powers about his writing on line. But I’d say… take the plunge!
    Yes, I’ve already confused us! I saw a comment posted with my name on someone’s blog recently and thought ‘hey, that’s not me!’

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