William Gaddis (December 29, 1922 - December 16, 1998)
Born: 29th December, 1922
Died: 16th December, 1998
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Novelist
Region: New York City, New York, East Hampton
Notable works: "Agape Agape", "JR", "The Recognitions"

William Gaddis Facts


William Gaddis, in full William Thomas Gaddis, (born Dec. 29, 1922, New York, N.Y., U.S.--died Dec. 16, 1998, East Hampton, N.Y.), American novelist of complex, satiric works who is considered one of the best of the post-World War II Modernist writers.

After incomplete studies at Harvard University (1941-45), Gaddis worked as a fact-checker for The New Yorker magazine for two years and then traveled widely in Central America and Europe, holding a variety of jobs. He first gained note as an author with the publication of his controversial novel The Recognitions (1955). This book, rich in language and imagery, began as a parody of Faust but developed into a multileveled examination of spiritual bankruptcy that alternately was considered a brilliant masterpiece and incomprehensibly excessive. It became an underground classic, but, discouraged by the harsh critical reception of his book, Gaddis worked as a freelance writer for various corporations and published nothing for 20 years. His second novel, JR (1975), uses long stretches of cacophonous dialogue to depict what its author viewed as the greed, hypocrisy, and banality of the world of American business. Gaddis's third novel, Carpenter's Gothic (1985), is even more pessimistic in its depiction of moral chaos in modern America. The law, lawyers, and especially the litigiousness rampant in contemporary American society are examined in A Frolic of His Own (1994). Gaddis's last work of fiction, Agape Agape, a rambling first-person narrative of a dying man obsessed with the history of the player piano, was published posthumously in 2002, as was the collection The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings.

Gaddis's fiction shows the influence of the writings of James Joyce and in turn influenced the work of Thomas Pynchon; it contains long dialogues and monologues connected by a minimal plotline and structured with scant punctuation. His books belong to a style of literature characterized by the absence of distinctive incidents and by the pervasive use of black humour in dealing with a chaotic mass of associations. They create a radical way of viewing the world by which the reader can reassess his own situation.

Top 9 William Gaddis quotes

There is nothing more distressing or tiresome than a writer standing in front of an audience and reading his work.
How some of the writers I come across get through their books without dying of boredom is beyond me.
He was the only person caught in the collapse, and afterward, most of his work was recovered too, and it is still spoken of, when it is noted, with high regard, though seldom played.
What is it they want from the man that they didn't get from the work? What do they expect? What is there left when he's done with his work, what's any artist but the dregs of his work, the human shambles that follows it around?
Justice? You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law.
Power doesn't corrupt people, people corrupt power.
I see the player piano as the grandfather of the computer, the ancestor of the entire nightmare we live in, the birth of the binary world where there is no option other than yes or no and where there is no refuge.
I see
We're comic. We're all comics. We live in a comic time. And the worse it gets the more comic we are.
Stupidity is the deliberate cultivation of ignorance.

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