The Recognitions
The Recognitions

GADDIS, William. The Recognitions.

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GADDIS, William The Recognitions. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1955.

8vo., original black publisher's cloth, embossed with 'Ouroboros' emblem to upper board, spine lettered in gilt; original dust jacket designed by Halverson; pp. [vi], 3-956; upper quarter of cloth a little discoloured, especially around the spine; a little shaky in the binding, with some professional reinforcement to the upper hinge; some small stains to outer edge, but a very good copy nonetheless, the jacket retaining much of its brightness, with only light toning to the folds and a couple of small nicks to spine.
First edition, as stated, of the author's first novel. Inscribed by the author to the title page: "to Myles/ with best regards/ William Gaddis/ B[?]/ April 1986." In later issue dust jacket which has the Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. address as 757 Third Avenue to the lower flap.
A tale about forgery, The Recognitions was Gaddis' debut novel, which he worked on for seven years as a parody of Goethe's Faust. It follows the story of a young man inspired to become a painter by The Seven Deadly Sins, Hieronymous Bosch's noted painting, but after harsh criticism, making a Faustian deal with an art collector to forge a series of paintings based on 15th-century Flemish and Dutch masters.
Gaddis wrote of this complex work: "it's not reader-friendly. Though I think it is, and I think the reader gets satisfaction out of participating in, collaborating, if you will, with the writer, so that it ends up being between the reader and the page. ... Why did we invent the printing press? Why do we, why are we literate? Because the pleasure of being all alone, with a book, is one of the greatest pleasures."