Celebrates and illuminates the legacy of one of America's most innovative and consequential 20th century novelists.
In 2002, following the posthumous publication of William Gaddis's collected nonfiction and his final novel and Jonathan Franzen's lengthy attack on him in The New Yorker, a number of partisan articles appeared in support of Gaddis's legacy. In a review in The London Review of Books, critic Hal Foster suggested a reason for disparate responses to Gaddis's reputation: Gaddis's unique hybridity, his ability to "write in the gap between two dispensations, --between science and literature, theory and narrative, and --different orders of linguistic imagination.--
Gaddis (1922-1998) is often cited as the link between literary modernism and postmodernism in the United States. His novels--The Recognitions, JR, Carpenter's Gothic, and A Frolic of His Own--are notable in the ways that they often restrict themselves to the language and communication systems of the worlds he portrays. Issues of corporate finance, the American legal system, economics, simulation and authenticity, bureaucracy, transportation, and mass communication permeate his narratives in subject, setting, and method. The essays address subjects as diverse as cybernetics theory, the law, media theory, race and class, music, and the perils and benefits of globalization. The collection also contains a memoir by Gaddis's son, an unpublished interview with Gaddis from just after the publication of JR, and an essay on the Gaddis archive, newly opened at Washington University in St. Louis.
The editors acknowledge that we live in an age of heightened global awareness. But as these essays testify, few American writers have illuminated as poignantly or incisively just how much the systemic forces of capitalism and mass communication have impacted individual lives and identity--imparting global dimensions to private pursuits and desires--than William Gaddis.
Contributors: Normal0falsefalsefalseEN-USX-NONEX-NONEMicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Crystal Alberts, Klaus Benesch, Nicholas Brown, Stephen Burn, Jeff Bursey, Anne Furlong, Tom LeClair, Joseph McElroy, Steven Moore, Stephen Schryer, Rone Shavers, Nicholas Spencer, Joseph Tabbi, Michael Wutz, Anja Zeidler
"Gaddis (1922-98) was a thoughtful and difficult author, and his early novels, The Recognitions (1955) and J R (1975), remain important to a small but influential group of writers and critics. Gaddis's concerns are complex and difficult to summarize. Among many strands, his depiction of the tense relation between the notions of authenticity and of forgery and faking may be the most prominent. Several essays in this volume, above all Nicholas Spencer's, will add to appreciation of J R, a long, rich, innovative exploration of what came to be known as 'postmodernist' stylistic devices and themes. Gaddis's Carpenter's Gothic (1985), a shorter and in some ways deceptively accessible novel, is also helpfully discussed in several essays (Nicholas Brown's should be assigned to those studying the novel). The other essays all illuminate some aspect of Gaddis's oeuvre. Of particular value are Tom LeClair's hitherto unpublished 1980 interview with the notoriously reticent Gaddis and pieces by Tabbi, Klaus Benesch, and Steven Moore. This is the best work on Gaddis since Steven Moore's William Gaddis (1989). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty."
Paper Empire gathers a fine set of essays on a multi-award winning yet still under-appreciated novelist. . . . Tabbi and Shavers have given us a broad range of essays by American and European scholars, some of them fresh, compelling voices among critics of contemporary fiction and Gaddis's work." --Steven Weisenburger, author of Modern Medea: A Family Story of Slavery and Child-Murder from the Old South
"Paper Empire fills the gap in the scholarly literature on Gaddis. I know of no other monograph or collection of essays that addresses in such a focused way the contexts, especially the systematic contexts, of Gaddis's writing." --Brian McHale, author of The Obligation Toward the Difficult Whole: Postmodernist Long Poems