Saturday, November 13, 2004

First person to accost Harold Bloom and say "Boo!" wins

In what is surely a sign of something (cue ominous strings), at the annual BWI warehouse sale this morning (mob scene, but all hardcovers $2, everything else $1) I snagged a copy of Bloom's Modern Critical Views: William Gaddis. It features an introduction by Harold Bloom and essays by Joseph Salemi, Susan Streble Klemtner, Miriam Fuchs, Jonathan Raban and several others. The opening paragraph (and change) of Bloom's introduction is priceless and I post it here for your edification:

My one personal memory of William Gaddis goes back to a meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, sometime in the later 1990's. We had been introduced perhaps a year before, and he approached me, expressing gratification that I had included The Recognitions in a canonical catalog published in 1994. Not knowing him, yet apprehending that his grave and courteous manner did not seem ironic, I stammered that I had admired the novel since 1955, when it was first published, and had reread it several times since, always with a sense of gratitude. Gaddis graciously nodded his head, and walked away. Returning to New Haven that night, I rather weirdly found a copy of the Penguin paperback of The Recognitions in my briefcase, where I had not placed it.

This oddity (and I still do not know how the book got there) reflects for me the uncanniness of The Recognitions, where the inexplicable is marvelously omnipresent, in an almost Dickensian way.
Spooky, huh? Or did Gaddis "punk" Bloom?

In any event, it seems we really are reading the preferred edition.


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