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A vision of his own : the mind and art of William Gaddis

Author: Peter Wolfe
Publisher: Madison, [N.J.] : Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, ©1997.
Edition/Format:   Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
As Peter Wolfe's insightful new study explains, William Gaddis has brought vigor to the classical tradition that Yeats, Joyce, and T. S. Eliot were reshaping before him. Directing this tradition to American themes, Gaddis recoils from the belief that Yankee optimism is built on abundance.
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Genre/Form: Criticism, interpretation, etc
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Wolfe, Peter, 1933-
Vision of his own.
Madison, [N.J.] : Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, c1997
(OCoLC)605502730
Named Person: William Gaddis; William Gaddis; William Gaddis; William Gaddis
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Peter Wolfe
ISBN: 0838636942 9780838636947
OCLC Number: 34545035
Description: 312 p. ; 24 cm.
Responsibility: Peter Wolfe.

Abstract:

As Peter Wolfe's insightful new study explains, William Gaddis has brought vigor to the classical tradition that Yeats, Joyce, and T. S. Eliot were reshaping before him. Directing this tradition to American themes, Gaddis recoils from the belief that Yankee optimism is built on abundance.

Convinced that truth can best be revealed by juxtaposition, reflection, or distortion, he illuminates his protest against the modern abundance fetish by means of indirect lighting. His favorite idiom is irony, one that rests on limited expectations. But his country doesn't suffer from scarcity, and the narrative mode he favors is the long (or mega) novel. In this regard, Gaddis calls forth Walt Whitman. Gaddis is large, embraces multitudes, and is unafraid of self-contradiction. Thus he favors a narrative texture that's thick and heavy with a good deal of spillover. He resists imposing clean, consecutive discourse upon a reality consisting largely of a scumbling of depths, mirror images, and puzzling alternatives.

His practice of splintering traditional storytelling modes forces us to seek merit and value along the margins. Also, by keeping the chronology of his books vague, he transmits the pressure his people feel living amid guidelines and controls that can't be seen or felt, let alone made sense of. What remains, through it all, is the richness of his moral imagination. His explorations of identity and survival stir unerring insights into the depths of human behavior.

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