Brightly Lighted and Empty

The long bare corridor was brightly lighted and empty, until a young man with a thin face, a slightly crooked nose, and a weary expression which embraced his whole appearance, passed them. —There, there's the guy who was working on this, he's one of the writers. Hey, Willie… But the weary figure went on. He was carrying two books, one titled, The Destruction of the Philosophers, the other, The Destruction of the Destruction. He rounded a corner away from them muttering, —Christ. Christ, Christ, Christ, Christ, Christ.

William Gaddis, The Recognitions, Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1955, p. 734.

Willie, a figure glimpsed on the fringes througout the novel, is widely interpreted to directly represent Gaddis himself. This is the last appearance he makes. The corridor is in a television studio, and the project referred to is a television series called The Lives of the Saints. The books he is carrying are English translations of Tahāfut al-Falāsifa (تهافت الفلاسفة) by Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Ghazālī (ابو حامد محمد ابن محمد الغزالی) and Tahāfut al-Tahāfut (تهافت التهافت) by Abū 'l-Walīd Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Rushd (أبو الوليد محمد بن احمد بن رشد), more frequently translated as The Incoherence of the Philosophers and The Incoherence of the Incoherence respectively.


Christopher J. Knight, William Gaddis, and Tom Smith, "The New York State Writers Institute Tapes: William Gaddis", in Contemporary Literature, Vol. 42, No. 4, Winter 2001, pp. 667–693.

CM: Gaddis never graduated. Apparently, there was some incident, and he had to leave school. de K: The story I heard was that he was at the Hygiene Department, being measured or weighed or examined or something. And he was either smashed, or very, very angry about something. Anyway, he jumped out of a second-story window onto the street. And he was, I think, cashiered from the college for that reason. He was very, very depressed and angry, I think, at the time. He didn't like being in college in the middle of the war.

"Ormonde de Kay talks about William Gaddis in an interview with Charles Monaghan", The Gaddis Annotations, 24 December 1993.

Andrometer Benjamin Apthorp Gould, Investigations in the Military and Anthropological Statistics of American Soldiers, Published for the US Sanitary Commission by Hurd and Houghton, New York, 1869, p. 235.