WILLIAM THOMAS GADDIS, JR. (December 29, 1922 – December 16, 1998) was an American novelist. The first and longest of his five novels, _ The Recognitions _, was named one of TIME magazine\'s 100 best novels from 1923 to 2005 and two others, _ J R _ and _ A Frolic of His Own _, won the annual U.S. National Book Award for Fiction . A collection of his essays was published posthumously as _ The Rush for Second Place _ (2002). _The Letters of William Gaddis_ was published by Dalkey Archive Press in February 2013.
Gaddis is widely considered one of the first and most important American postmodern writers .
* 1 Biography * 2 Legacy and influence * 3 Awards and honors
* 4 Works
* 4.1 Fiction * 4.2 Non-fiction
* 5 See also * 6 References * 7 External links
Gaddis was born in
New York City
His first novel, _The Recognitions_, appeared in 1955. A lengthy, complex, and allusive work, it had to wait to find its audience. Newspaper reviewers considered it overly intellectual, overwritten, and perhaps on the principle of _omne ignotum per obscaenum_ ("all that is unknown appears obscene"), filthy. (The book was defended by Jack Green in a series of broadsheets blasting the critics; the series was collected later under the title _ Fire the Bastards! _) Shortly after the publication of _The Recognitions_, Gaddis married his first wife, Patricia Black, who would give birth to two children: Sarah (who has written a novel, _Swallow Hard_, inspired by her relationship with her father) and Matthew.
Gaddis then turned to public relations work and the making of
documentary films to support himself and his family. In this role he
Eastman Kodak ,
_Carpenter\'s Gothic _ (1985) offered a shorter and more accessible picture of Gaddis's sardonic worldview. Instead of struggling against misanthropy (as in _The Recognitions_) or reluctantly giving ground to it (as in _J R_), _Carpenter's Gothic_ wallows in it. The continual litigation that was a theme in that book becomes the central theme and plot device in _ A Frolic of His Own _ (1994)—which earned him his second National Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction —where it seems that everyone is suing someone. There are even two Japanese cars called the Isuyu and the Sosumi.
Gaddis died at home in East Hampton, New York , of prostate cancer on December 16, 1998, but not before creating his final work, _Agapē Agape _ (the first word of the title is the Greek _agapē _, meaning divine, unconditional love), which was published in 2002, a novella in the form of the last words of a character similar but not identical to his creator. _ The Rush for Second Place _, published at the same time, collected most of Gaddis's previously published nonfiction.
LEGACY AND INFLUENCE
Among fans of post-modern fiction, Gaddis is often acknowledged as
being one of the greatest of American post-war novelists. A critic who
early on appreciated his work and recognized its value is Steven Moore
: in 1982 he published _A Reader's Guide to William Gaddis's "The
Recognitions"_ and in 1989 a monograph on Gaddis in the Twayne series.
Gaddis's influence is vast (although frequently subterranean): for
example, postmodern authors such as
Characters in fiction based on Gaddis include "Harry Lees" in
Chandler Brossard 's 1952 novel _Who Walk in Darkness_, "Harold Sand"
Jack Kerouac 's autobiographical 1958 novella _
The Subterraneans _
and possibly "Bill Gray" in
His life and work are the subject of a comprehensive website, The Gaddis Annotations, which has been noted in at least one academic journal as a superior example of scholarship using new media resources. Gaddis's papers are collected at Washington University in St. Louis . The first book-length biography, Joseph Tabbi's _Nobody Grew but the Business: On the Life and Work of William Gaddis,_ was published by Northwestern University Press in May 2015.
AWARDS AND HONORS
Beside the awards for particular works, Gaddis has received three other awards and honors:
* The MacArthur Foundation ’s "Genius Award" (1982); * Election to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1989); * The Lannan Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement (1993).
* _ The Rush for Second Place _ (collection, published 2002)
* ^ Alberts, Crystal (August 11, 2005). "William Gaddis,
1922–1998. American author". Washington University Libraries,
* ^ "National Book Awards – 1976". National Book Foundation . Retrieved March 28, 2012. (With essay by Chad Post from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.) * ^ "National Book Awards – 1994". National Book Foundation . Retrieved March 28, 2012. (With essay by Harold Augenbraum from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.) * ^ _A_ _B_ "Who\'s Writing Whose Writing? Gaddis, Green, Pynchon, and Tinasky". * ^ "Mr. Difficult: William Gadd