The Letters of William Gaddis

Paul Griffiths reviews the volume in the TLS
William Gaddis

“Another damned thick, square book.” It is easy to imagine William Gaddis responding thus to the publication of his letters, quoting, as he regularly did in connection with his novels, a remark thrown at Edward Gibbon by a royal duke of the time. One can also guess that such a comment would not in this case have been a cover, as surely it was with his fictional works, for pride in achievement. Gaddis worked for seven years on his first novel, the thousand-page page-turner The Recognitions, which appeared in 1955, when he was thirty-two, and another two decades passed before he published his second, JR, a narrative almost as long, and unbroken. A believer in the “P. E.” (Protestant Ethic), he knew very well what these books represented in terms of hours at the typewriter, and what they required, too, not only of imagination and stamina but also of rage. [Read More]

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