20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Our lives as forgeries,
This review is from: The Recognitions (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
I read Gaddis's masterpiece about 5 years ago. Like any formidable task, I had to persist to finish it. But The Recognitions has influenced me as much as the Holy Bible.
The book is difficult. It entwines a variety of themes, characters, and vignettes. But the pervasive theme is forgery. With great entertainment, Gaddis suggests that most lives are forgeries, as are most works of art and texts -- in one sense or another. Recognitions, whereby one tastes a sense of something real, occur rarely in a lifetime , if at all. (For me, reading this book was a recognition.)
Gaddis's favorite and most resonant metaphor is the church, in particular the Roman Catholic church. Many of his characters are named for the saints, who, along with bishops of all sects, wore and wear gowns, while hiding a thousand yards of material up their sleeves. No only do their gowns, or robes (feminine by custom) deceive us politically,socially, and economically -- not to mention religiously, they are sexually alluring, suggesting easy entre' both homosexually and heterosexually. The former is better disguised in the book -- as befits its theme, but it makes the greater imprint (especially since homosexuality is still proscribed by the Church as unnatural and spiritually and physically injurious)...
Gaddis is after more than our personal forgeries and those of our art, he is out to "expose" the most sacred of our cows: our beliefs and our faith.