A postmodern masterpiece about fraud and forgery by one of the most venerated novelists of the last century.
The Recognitions is a sweeping depiction of a world in which everything that anyone recognizes as beautiful or true or good emerges as anything but: our world. The book is a masquerade, moving from New England to New York to Madrid, from the art world to the underworld, but it centers on the story of Wyatt Gwyon, son of a New England pastor, who forsakes religion to devote himself to painting, only to despair of his inspiration. In expiation, he will paint nothing but flawless copies of his revered old masters--copies, however, that find their way into the hands of a sinister financial wizard by the name of Recktall Brown, who of course sells them as the real thing. Gwyon's story is only one of many that fill the pages of a novel that is as monstrously populated as paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. Throughout, Gaddis's characters preen and scheme and party and toil, pursuing salvation through the debasement of desire.
Dismissed uncomprehendingly by the critics on publication in 1955 and ignored by the literary world for decades after, The Recognitions has gone on to establish itself as one of the great American novels, immensely ambitious and entirely unique, a book of freakish strangeness and outrageous comedy that is also profoundly serious and sad.