A postcard David Markson sent to me.
     On which Markson wrote:     “Tyler, lad—                                                            18 March ‘10     My God, you left out Willie Mays!     Hey, again, thank you for the kind words, the kind offers, etc. Brief as this will be, I do appreciate all of same.     And I guess I do get by without help—even with, would you believe, a busted wrist at the moment! (I do not advise it, at age 82!)     Let me just wish you all the best of luck with your work. And, truly, sincerest thanks again.                                                                                     Yours—Dave M.”
—
     Tonight, in celebration of being back writing Reading Markson Reading again, I decided to share with all my fellow readers (of Markson reading), my most prized Markson possession.     It is not one of my many books once owned by Markson, with or without marginalia.     Not his copy of Don DeLillo’s Mao II with “bullshit” written in Markson’s own handwriting in the margins on seemingly every other page.     Not his copy of James Joyce’s Exiles which, though lacking in marginalia, is still one of my favorites since it is my second favorite author’s personal copy of a book written by my favorite author (even if it is my favorite author’s least interesting work).     Not his copy of Conrad Aiken’s Ushant which has not only Markson’s own signature of ownership in it, but also an inscription from Conrad Aiken to Markson’s wife.     Not his copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake, nor his copy of Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, nor his copy of Jorge Luis Borges’ Selected Poems, nor his copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Crack-Up, nor his copy of Dante’s Inferno, nor his copy of Homer’s Iliad.     No. My most prized possession is a small little postcard he sent me in response to a letter I sent him.
     I wrote him two letters, actually.     And I received two notecards in response.     Both within just days of my having sent the letters. 
     The above scan is only the second of the two responses.
     One letter I handed to him when he made an appearance at the Strand upon the publication of The Last Novel in 2007. The other I sent just a few months before he died in 2010.     This is the response I got on March 18th, 2010.     He died less than three months later on June 4th, 2010.
     In the letter I sent him that prompted this response, I had created a short Marksonian list of monumental events that took place in New York City.      Less monumental, actually, and more just peculiar.     One such event I included, I remember, was when the Baronness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven punched William Carlos Williams in the face in 1921 for rejecting her advances.     That is what Markson refers to when he says I “left out Willie Mays!”
     I had not included “the catch”—the infamous catch, one of the most memorable defensive plays in all of baseball history, which took place during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians at the Polo Grounds in New York City.     A “‘great’ catch” which Markson, in his review of Shay Oag’s book In the Presence of Death, wrote was followed by “back-slapping exultation.”     My God, you left out Willie Mays!
     The rest of the note refers mostly to me offering to help him with anything if he needed it, to which he replied that he does “get by without help.”
     And then there’s the mention of his busted wrist.     Dingus gestured vaguely with a hand that Hoke now saw to be bandaged, or rather it was the wrist.
     He was a sweet man to respond, and sweeter to have done so twice. And I appreciate, and will treasure, the fact that he wished me “the best of luck” with my writing.     I had told him of the novel I’d been working on, but neither of us could know the other writing project that would announce itself to me only a few months later—after having found, stacked in miles and miles of books at the Strand, some of Markson’s own personal library. Neither of us could have known I’d be reading Markson reading, and blogging about it, such a short time after receiving this notecard.     Quite sad.
     When I read the books of his I now own, and read what he wrote in many of their margins, I feel as though he’s reading with me, as though we’re discussing whatever book it is, as though he’s talking to me.     But here, in this postcard, he IS actually talking to me. He’s literally addressing me:     “Tyler, lad—”
     And that makes this my most prized Markson possession.
     (Someday I’ll share the other postcard he sent me a few years earlier—my other most prized Markson possession.)

     A postcard David Markson sent to me.

     On which Markson wrote:
     “Tyler, lad—                                                            18 March ‘10
     My God, you left out Willie Mays!
     Hey, again, thank you for the kind words, the kind offers, etc. Brief as this will be, I do appreciate all of same.
     And I guess I do get by without help—even with, would you believe, a busted wrist at the moment! (I do not advise it, at age 82!)
     Let me just wish you all the best of luck with your work. And, truly, sincerest thanks again.
                                                                                     Yours—Dave M.”

     Tonight, in celebration of being back writing Reading Markson Reading again, I decided to share with all my fellow readers (of Markson reading), my most prized Markson possession.
     It is not one of my many books once owned by Markson, with or without marginalia.
     Not his copy of Don DeLillo’s Mao II with “bullshit” written in Markson’s own handwriting in the margins on seemingly every other page.
     Not his copy of James Joyce’s Exiles which, though lacking in marginalia, is still one of my favorites since it is my second favorite author’s personal copy of a book written by my favorite author (even if it is my favorite author’s least interesting work).
     Not his copy of Conrad Aiken’s Ushant which has not only Markson’s own signature of ownership in it, but also an inscription from Conrad Aiken to Markson’s wife.
     Not his copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake, nor his copy of Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, nor his copy of Jorge Luis Borges’ Selected Poems, nor his copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Crack-Up, nor his copy of Dante’s Inferno, nor his copy of Homer’s Iliad.
     No. My most prized possession is a small little postcard he sent me in response to a letter I sent him.

     I wrote him two letters, actually.
     And I received two notecards in response.
     Both within just days of my having sent the letters. 

     The above scan is only the second of the two responses.

     One letter I handed to him when he made an appearance at the Strand upon the publication of The Last Novel in 2007. The other I sent just a few months before he died in 2010.
     This is the response I got on March 18th, 2010.
     He died less than three months later on June 4th, 2010.

     In the letter I sent him that prompted this response, I had created a short Marksonian list of monumental events that took place in New York City.
     Less monumental, actually, and more just peculiar.
     One such event I included, I remember, was when the Baronness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven punched William Carlos Williams in the face in 1921 for rejecting her advances.
     That is what Markson refers to when he says I “left out Willie Mays!”

     I had not included “the catch”—the infamous catch, one of the most memorable defensive plays in all of baseball history, which took place during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians at the Polo Grounds in New York City.
     A “‘great’ catch” which Markson, in his review of Shay Oag’s book In the Presence of Death, wrote was followed by “back-slapping exultation.”
     My God, you left out Willie Mays!

     The rest of the note refers mostly to me offering to help him with anything if he needed it, to which he replied that he does “get by without help.”

     And then there’s the mention of his busted wrist.
     Dingus gestured vaguely with a hand that Hoke now saw to be bandaged, or rather it was the wrist.

     He was a sweet man to respond, and sweeter to have done so twice. And I appreciate, and will treasure, the fact that he wished me “the best of luck” with my writing.
     I had told him of the novel I’d been working on, but neither of us could know the other writing project that would announce itself to me only a few months later—after having found, stacked in miles and miles of books at the Strand, some of Markson’s own personal library. Neither of us could have known I’d be reading Markson reading, and blogging about it, such a short time after receiving this notecard.
     Quite sad.

     When I read the books of his I now own, and read what he wrote in many of their margins, I feel as though he’s reading with me, as though we’re discussing whatever book it is, as though he’s talking to me.
     But here, in this postcard, he IS actually talking to me. He’s literally addressing me:
     “Tyler, lad—”

     And that makes this my most prized Markson possession.

     (Someday I’ll share the other postcard he sent me a few years earlier—my other most prized Markson possession.)

     The first page of David Markson’s copy of Turner by John Rothstein and Martin Butlin:
     On which Markson placed his name as an inscription, in addition to the place and year presumably in which the book was purchased:     “London 1967”
—-
     Wow, I’ve been gone for much longer than anticipated. In the meantime there’s been a crosscountry roadtrip, a break-up, a mugging, and lots and lots of work. I’ve been busy. I’m exhausted.
     But it is time for me to begin again. Exhaustion is no excuse…
     “David Markson’s novels always begin with exhaustion. Why write at all? The weather’s too hot; the narrator is tired, disillusioned, and down-hearted. Any effort being inane, any pursuit downright absurd, in particular the pursuit of meaning, how is one to live one’s life, how may one presume there might still be something worth writing about?”     Wrote Françoise Palleau-Papin on pg. 3 of her Markson study This Is Not A Tragedy.
I find myself in the same predicament.
     So I begin with exhaustion.
     And with a scan from an art book on Turner.
     And a lovely quote re: Turner from the beginning of Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress:     “I have always admired Turner as well, however. In fact his own paintings of water may well have been a part of what led to my decision.     Once, Turner had himself lashed to the mast of a ship for several hours, during a furious storm, so that he could later paint the storm.     Obviously, it was not the storm itself that Turner intended to paint. What he intended to paint was a representation of the storm.     One’s language is frequently imprecise in that manner, I have discovered.     Actually, the story of Turner being lashed to the mast reminds me of something, even though I cannot remember what it reminds me of.”     (Wittgenstein’s Mistress, pg. 12)

     The first page of David Markson’s copy of Turner by John Rothstein and Martin Butlin:

     On which Markson placed his name as an inscription, in addition to the place and year presumably in which the book was purchased:
     “London 1967”

—-

     Wow, I’ve been gone for much longer than anticipated. In the meantime there’s been a crosscountry roadtrip, a break-up, a mugging, and lots and lots of work. I’ve been busy. I’m exhausted.

     But it is time for me to begin again. Exhaustion is no excuse…

     “David Markson’s novels always begin with exhaustion. Why write at all? The weather’s too hot; the narrator is tired, disillusioned, and down-hearted. Any effort being inane, any pursuit downright absurd, in particular the pursuit of meaning, how is one to live one’s life, how may one presume there might still be something worth writing about?”
     Wrote Françoise Palleau-Papin on pg. 3 of her Markson study This Is Not A Tragedy.

I find myself in the same predicament.

     So I begin with exhaustion.

     And with a scan from an art book on Turner.

     And a lovely quote re: Turner from the beginning of Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress:
     “I have always admired Turner as well, however. In fact his own paintings of water may well have been a part of what led to my decision.
     Once, Turner had himself lashed to the mast of a ship for several hours, during a furious storm, so that he could later paint the storm.
     Obviously, it was not the storm itself that Turner intended to paint. What he intended to paint was a representation of the storm.
     One’s language is frequently imprecise in that manner, I have discovered.
     Actually, the story of Turner being lashed to the mast reminds me of something, even though I cannot remember what it reminds me of.”
     (Wittgenstein’s Mistress, pg. 12)

     The inside front cover and first page of David Markson’s copy of Les Philosophes: The Philosophers of the Enlightenment and Modern Democracy by Various (Ed. Norman L. Torrey):
     On which Markson placed his name as an inscription.
—-
     I apologize for falling off the map for the last couple days. For 200 and something days in a row I consistently posted a scan of Markson marginalia. And not just posted a scan but also thoroughly discussed its association with the life of the writer and the books he wrote. This will continue as soon as I return from the roadtrip to California that I have just embarked upon. I will be gone for exactly one month. When I return, expect more Reading Markson Reading posts.
     This site is far from over.
     Until then how about we just Read Markson?
     And we’ll get back to Reading Markson READING in a month…
     If this is your first time finding the site, I apologize for being away right at the time you’ve discovered my Markson blog—but feel free to peruse the more than 200 scans I’ve posted so far.
     Also, remember, any of you out there who were able to get Markson-owned books from the Strand, please send me full-page scans of them and I will post them here. Thanks.
     Anyways, hopefully I will be welcomed back with open arms upon my return by my fellow Readers (of Markson Reading), and I don’t fall victim to the same fate of Marco Polo:     “The credible folktale that Marco Polo and his father and uncle, disreputable and queerly dressed, were not recognized and almost denied entry to the Venice family home on their return from the East.” (Vanishing Point, pg. 35).
     See you back here at the end of June?
     Same bat time, same bat channel?

     The inside front cover and first page of David Markson’s copy of Les Philosophes: The Philosophers of the Enlightenment and Modern Democracy by Various (Ed. Norman L. Torrey):

     On which Markson placed his name as an inscription.

—-

     I apologize for falling off the map for the last couple days. For 200 and something days in a row I consistently posted a scan of Markson marginalia. And not just posted a scan but also thoroughly discussed its association with the life of the writer and the books he wrote. This will continue as soon as I return from the roadtrip to California that I have just embarked upon. I will be gone for exactly one month. When I return, expect more Reading Markson Reading posts.

     This site is far from over.

     Until then how about we just Read Markson?

     And we’ll get back to Reading Markson READING in a month…

     If this is your first time finding the site, I apologize for being away right at the time you’ve discovered my Markson blog—but feel free to peruse the more than 200 scans I’ve posted so far.

     Also, remember, any of you out there who were able to get Markson-owned books from the Strand, please send me full-page scans of them and I will post them here. Thanks.

     Anyways, hopefully I will be welcomed back with open arms upon my return by my fellow Readers (of Markson Reading), and I don’t fall victim to the same fate of Marco Polo:
     “The credible folktale that Marco Polo and his father and uncle, disreputable and queerly dressed, were not recognized and almost denied entry to the Venice family home on their return from the East.” (Vanishing Point, pg. 35).

     See you back here at the end of June?

     Same bat time, same bat channel?

     The Dedication to The Waste Land in David Markson’s copy of Poems by T. S. Eliot:
     On which Markson has made a number of notes…
     He placed a line in the margin and wrote that the quote:     “NAM Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi in ampulla  pendere, et cum illi pueri dicerent: Σίβυλλα τί θέλεις; respondebat  illa: ἀποθανεῖν θέλω.”     Is from:     “Petronius.”
     He underlined:     “ἀποθανεῖν θέλω”     And translated it as:     “(I WISH TO DIE)”
     He underlined:     “Il miglior fabbro”     And translated it as:      “(That greater magician)”
     He then created his own table of contents in the lower right corner, naming the five parts of The Waste Land:     “I. THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD     II. A GAME OF CHESS     III. THE FIRE SERMON     IV. DEATH BY WATER     V. WHAT THE THUNDER SAID”
—-
     Markson saw the four novels that make up the Notecard Quartet, his tetralogy, as somewhat similar, if still inferior, to Eliot’s The Waste Land.
     Markson claims This Is Not A Novel could be seen as:     “An ersatz prose alternative to The Waste Land, if Writer so suggests.”     - This Is Not A Novel, pg. 101.
     Likewise, his friend and literary compatriot, Ann Beattie, wrote of Reader’s Block:     “Finally, a prose sequel to Eliot’s The Waste Land.”
     Like Eliot’s The Waste Land, the novels in Markson’s Notecard Quartet warrant the kind of close reading, study and marginalia that Markson placed in his copy of Eliot’s master poem (as showcased in the above scan).
     One wonders if Fannin, the detective in Markson’s Epitaph for a Tramp, did as close a reading of The Waste Land as Markson did…
     “I sat around for a couple of hours, disciplining myself by not opening the next bottle until I could manage it without defacing the tax stamp, and trying to make sense of something called The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot which was the only book in the joint.”     - Epitaph for a Tramp, pg. 13 (of the collected Epitaph for a Tramp & Epitaph for a Dead Beat).
     “In such a misanthropic context, what better book to read than T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land, given Fannin’s bittersweet humor?”     A question asked by Françoise Palleau-Papin in her Markson study This Is Not A Tragedy.     A question seconded by yours truly.
—-
     David Markson’s copy of Poems by T. S. Eliot is owned by Ethan Nosowsky. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © Ethan Nosowsky.

     The Dedication to The Waste Land in David Markson’s copy of Poems by T. S. Eliot:

     On which Markson has made a number of notes…

     He placed a line in the margin and wrote that the quote:
     “NAM Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi in ampulla pendere, et cum illi pueri dicerent: Σίβυλλα τί θέλεις; respondebat illa: ἀποθανεῖν θέλω.”
     Is from:
     “Petronius.”

     He underlined:
     “ἀποθανεῖν θέλω”
     And translated it as:
     “(I WISH TO DIE)”

     He underlined:
     “Il miglior fabbro”
     And translated it as:
     “(That greater magician)”

     He then created his own table of contents in the lower right corner, naming the five parts of The Waste Land:
     “I. THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD
     II. A GAME OF CHESS
     III. THE FIRE SERMON
     IV. DEATH BY WATER
     V. WHAT THE THUNDER SAID”

—-

     Markson saw the four novels that make up the Notecard Quartet, his tetralogy, as somewhat similar, if still inferior, to Eliot’s The Waste Land.

     Markson claims This Is Not A Novel could be seen as:
     “An ersatz prose alternative to The Waste Land, if Writer so suggests.”
     - This Is Not A Novel, pg. 101.

     Likewise, his friend and literary compatriot, Ann Beattie, wrote of Reader’s Block:
     “Finally, a prose sequel to Eliot’s The Waste Land.”

     Like Eliot’s The Waste Land, the novels in Markson’s Notecard Quartet warrant the kind of close reading, study and marginalia that Markson placed in his copy of Eliot’s master poem (as showcased in the above scan).

     One wonders if Fannin, the detective in Markson’s Epitaph for a Tramp, did as close a reading of The Waste Land as Markson did…

     “I sat around for a couple of hours, disciplining myself by not opening the next bottle until I could manage it without defacing the tax stamp, and trying to make sense of something called The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot which was the only book in the joint.”
     - Epitaph for a Tramp, pg. 13 (of the collected Epitaph for a Tramp & Epitaph for a Dead Beat).

     “In such a misanthropic context, what better book to read than T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land, given Fannin’s bittersweet humor?”
     A question asked by Françoise Palleau-Papin in her Markson study This Is Not A Tragedy.
     A question seconded by yours truly.

—-

     David Markson’s copy of Poems by T. S. Eliot is owned by Ethan Nosowsky. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © Ethan Nosowsky.

     Pg. 237 of David Markson’s copy of Postmodern Sublime: Technology and American Writing from Mailer to Cyberpunk by Joseph Tabbi:
      On  which Markson placed a check in the margins of the book’s Works Cited next to mention of an essay on his own writing, namely:     “Wallace, David Foster. ‘The Empty Plenum: David Markson’s Wittgenstein’sMistress.’ Review of Contemporary Fiction 10 (Summer 1990):217-39.”
—-
     David Foster Wallace, a great novelist in his own right, wrote the essay “The Empty Plenum: David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress" exploring that masterpiece of Markson’s that he had called "pretty much the high point of experimental fiction in this country" in a different article for Salon.
     The entire text of David Foster Wallace’s “The Empty Plenum” can be read here.
     But here is the opening bit of the essay which I thought I’d share for any of you Readers (of Markson Reading) out there who have never had the pleasure of coming across it:     “Certain novels not only cry out for critical interpretations but actuallytry to direct them. This is probably analogous to a piece of music that both demands and defines the listener’s movements, say like a waltz. Frequently, too, those novels that direct their own critical reading concern themselves thematically with what we might consider highbrow or intellectual issues—stuff proper to art, engineering, antique lit., philosophy, etc. These novels carve out for themselves an interstice between flat-out fiction and a sort of weird cerebral roman à clef. When they fail, as my own first long thing did, they’re pretty dreadful. But when they succeed, as I claim David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress does, they serve the vital & vanishing function of reminding us of fiction’s limitless possibilities for reach & grasp, for making heads throb heartlike, & for sanctifying the marriages of cerebration & emotion, abstraction & lived life, transcendent truth-seeking & daily schlepping, marriages that in our happy epoch of technical occlusion & entertainment-marketing seem increasing consummatable only in the imagination. Books I tend to associate with this INTERPRET-ME phenomenon include stuff like Candide, Witold Gombrowicz’s Cosmos, Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, Sartre’s Nausea, Camus’s Stranger. These five are works of genius of a particular kind: they shout their genius. Markson, in Wittgenstein’s Mistress, tends rather to whisper, but his w.o.g.’s no less successful; nor—particularly given the rabid anti-intellectualism of the contemporary fiction scene—seems it any less important. It’s become an important book to me, anyway. I’d never heard of this guy Markson, before, in ‘88. And have, still, read nothing else by him. I ordered the book mostly because of its eponymous title; I like to fancy myself a fan of the work of its namesake. Clearly the book was/is in some way ‘about’ Wittgenstein, given the title. This is one of the ways an INTERPRET-ME fiction clues the critical reader in on what the book’s to be seen as on a tertiary level ‘about’: the title: Ulysses' title, its structure as Odyssean/Telemachean map (succeeds); R. Goldstein's The Mind-Body Problem (really terrible); Cortázar’s Hopscotch (succeeds exactly to the extent one ignores the invitation to hop around in it); Burroughs’s Queer & Junkie (fail successfully (?)).”

     Pg. 237 of David Markson’s copy of Postmodern Sublime: Technology and American Writing from Mailer to Cyberpunk by Joseph Tabbi:

      On which Markson placed a check in the margins of the book’s Works Cited next to mention of an essay on his own writing, namely:
     “Wallace, David Foster. ‘The Empty Plenum: David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s
Mistress.’ Review of Contemporary Fiction 10 (Summer 1990):217-39.”

—-

     David Foster Wallace, a great novelist in his own right, wrote the essay “The Empty Plenum: David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress" exploring that masterpiece of Markson’s that he had called "pretty much the high point of experimental fiction in this country" in a different article for Salon.

     The entire text of David Foster Wallace’s “The Empty Plenum” can be read here.

     But here is the opening bit of the essay which I thought I’d share for any of you Readers (of Markson Reading) out there who have never had the pleasure of coming across it:
     “Certain novels not only cry out for critical interpretations but actually
try to direct them. This is probably analogous to a piece of music that both demands and defines the listener’s movements, say like a waltz. Frequently, too, those novels that direct their own critical reading concern themselves thematically with what we might consider highbrow or intellectual issues—stuff proper to art, engineering, antique lit., philosophy, etc. These novels carve out for themselves an interstice between flat-out fiction and a sort of weird cerebral roman à clef. When they fail, as my own first long thing did, they’re pretty dreadful. But when they succeed, as I claim David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress does, they serve the vital & vanishing function of reminding us of fiction’s limitless possibilities for reach & grasp, for making heads throb heartlike, & for sanctifying the marriages of cerebration & emotion, abstraction & lived life, transcendent truth-seeking & daily schlepping, marriages that in our happy epoch of technical occlusion & entertainment-marketing seem increasing consummatable only in the imagination. Books I tend to associate with this INTERPRET-ME phenomenon include stuff like Candide, Witold Gombrowicz’s Cosmos, Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, Sartre’s Nausea, Camus’s Stranger. These five are works of genius of a particular kind: they shout their genius. Markson, in Wittgenstein’s Mistress, tends rather to whisper, but his w.o.g.’s no less successful; nor—particularly given the rabid anti-intellectualism of the contemporary fiction scene—seems it any less important. It’s become an important book to me, anyway. I’d never heard of this guy Markson, before, in ‘88. And have, still, read nothing else by him. I ordered the book mostly because of its eponymous title; I like to fancy myself a fan of the work of its namesake. Clearly the book was/is in some way ‘about’ Wittgenstein, given the title. This is one of the ways an INTERPRET-ME fiction clues the critical reader in on what the book’s to be seen as on a tertiary level ‘about’: the title: Ulysses' title, its structure as Odyssean/Telemachean map (succeeds); R. Goldstein's The Mind-Body Problem (really terrible); Cortázar’s Hopscotch (succeeds exactly to the extent one ignores the invitation to hop around in it); Burroughs’s Queer & Junkie (fail successfully (?)).”

     Pgs. xliv & xlv of Raymond Weaver’s Introduction in David Markson’s copy of Shorter Novels of Herman Melville by Herman Melville:
     On which Markson has underlined the passage where Weaver describes Melville’s retirement from literature:     “He challenged the world with his genius, and the world defeated him by ignoring the challenge and starving him. He stopped writing because he had failed and because he had no choice but to accept the world’s terms: there is no mystery here. This was not insanity, but common sense.”
—-
     One constant theme in both Markson’s tetralogy—The Notecard Quartet, as I call it—and in my discussions here on Reading Markson Reading is that of society’s tendency to undervalue its greatest geniuses (especially in the arts).
     There aren’t many writers more underappreciated than Melville during his lifetime that have in the subsequent years grown into titans in the literary canon.
     Moby Dick is now almost unanimously seen as one of the few “GREAT AMERICAN NOVELS.”
     But during Melville’s lifetime…
     “So much trash belonging to the worst school of Bedlam literature.     The London Anthenaeum called Moby Dick.”     Wrote Markson in Vanishing Point on pg. 156.
     He challenged the world with his genius, and the world defeated him by ignoring the challenge and starving him.
     “At one juncture during his years as a customs inspector on the New York docks, Melville was forced to take a cut in salary—from $4.00 to $3.60 per day.”     Wrote Markson in The Last Novel on pg. 153.
     “Melville’s lifetime earnings from his fiction— from more than  forty-five years— would appear to barely exceed ten thousand dollars.”     Wrote Markson in This Is Not A Novel on pg. 164.
     “No man has a right to set himself up as a lecturer at $50 per night who cannot for one minute take his eyes from his manuscript.     Said a Rockford, Illinois, newspaper about Melville.”     Wrote Markson in Vanishing Point on pg. 60.
     “Fifteen years after Moby Dick, Melville had to pay to publish Clarel. With borrowed money.”      Wrote Markson in Reader’s Block on pg. 120.
     “No one expressed interest in publishing Billy Budd until thirty-three years after Melville’s [death].”     Wrote Markson in The Last Novel on pg. 22.
     He stopped writing because he had failed and because he had no choice but to accept the world’s terms.
     This was not insanity, but common sense.
—-
     David Markson’s copy of Shorter Novels of Herman Melville by Herman Melville is owned by Ethan Nosowsky. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © Ethan Nosowsky.

     Pgs. xliv & xlv of Raymond Weaver’s Introduction in David Markson’s copy of Shorter Novels of Herman Melville by Herman Melville:

     On which Markson has underlined the passage where Weaver describes Melville’s retirement from literature:
     “He challenged the world with his genius, and the world defeated him by ignoring the challenge and starving him. He stopped writing because he had failed and because he had no choice but to accept the world’s terms: there is no mystery here. This was not insanity, but common sense.”

—-

     One constant theme in both Markson’s tetralogy—The Notecard Quartet, as I call it—and in my discussions here on Reading Markson Reading is that of society’s tendency to undervalue its greatest geniuses (especially in the arts).

     There aren’t many writers more underappreciated than Melville during his lifetime that have in the subsequent years grown into titans in the literary canon.

     Moby Dick is now almost unanimously seen as one of the few “GREAT AMERICAN NOVELS.”

     But during Melville’s lifetime…

     “So much trash belonging to the worst school of Bedlam literature.
     The London Anthenaeum called Moby Dick.”
     Wrote Markson in Vanishing Point on pg. 156.

     He challenged the world with his genius, and the world defeated him by ignoring the challenge and starving him.

     “At one juncture during his years as a customs inspector on the New York docks, Melville was forced to take a cut in salary—from $4.00 to $3.60 per day.”
     Wrote Markson in The Last Novel on pg. 153.

     “Melville’s lifetime earnings from his fiction— from more than forty-five years— would appear to barely exceed ten thousand dollars.”
     Wrote Markson in This Is Not A Novel on pg. 164.

     “No man has a right to set himself up as a lecturer at $50 per night who cannot for one minute take his eyes from his manuscript.
     Said a Rockford, Illinois, newspaper about Melville.”
     Wrote Markson in Vanishing Point on pg. 60.

     “Fifteen years after Moby Dick, Melville had to pay to publish Clarel. With borrowed money.”
      Wrote Markson in Reader’s Block on pg. 120.

     “No one expressed interest in publishing Billy Budd until thirty-three years after Melville’s [death].”
     Wrote Markson in The Last Novel on pg. 22.

     He stopped writing because he had failed and because he had no choice but to accept the world’s terms.

     This was not insanity, but common sense.

—-

     David Markson’s copy of Shorter Novels of Herman Melville by Herman Melville is owned by Ethan Nosowsky. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © Ethan Nosowsky.

     Pg. 65 of David Markson’s copy of Mao II by Don DeLillo:
     On which Markson placed a line next to the words:     “I think there’s an intensity that makes certain subjects a little dangerous. And we don’t have the camera between us. This changes everything, doesn’t it? Scott said six-thirty.”
      He then responded to that passage by writing in the margins:     “Again the spurious mysticism.”
—-
     Judging from the comments in the margins, Markson seems to find DeLillo’s whole book to be spurious.
     In fact, bullshit.
     As I’ve mentioned here many-a-times, he placed the word "Bullshit" in the margins of Mao II rather frequently.
     Though I do not own his copy of DeLillo’s White Noise, Readers (of Markson Reading) familiar with the whole Markson Treasure Hunt also know that similar comments were written in Markson’s copy of that book as well.     Many of which can be found here: in the London Review of Books article by Alex Abramovich and in that article’s comments.
     Markson’s DeLillo’s White Noise being, as the Abramovich article clearly shows, the book that began the whole Markson Treasure Hunt.
     Some of his DeLillo comments in that White Noise…
     “I’ve finally solved this book—it’s sci-fi!”     (Which was originally reported as “Oh I get it, it’s a sci-fi novel!” in the Abramovich article—hence the article’s title—but is corrected in the comments by the owner of the book Annecy Liddell.)     (And which can be seen here.)
     “Oh god the pomposity, the portentousness—the bullshit!”     (Which can be seen here.)
     “Too cute.”     (Which can be seen here.)
     “This book may have set the all-time record for boredom. At 1/3 of the length, it might have worked.”     (Which can be seen here.)
     “D’ya ever fuck ‘er?”     (Which can be seen here.)
     “Are we supposed to believe this?”     (Which can be seen here.)
     “If this were not my first Delillo, I probably would have quit 100 pages ago. Surely now.”     (Which can be seen here.)
     “Oh, wow! Big deal.”      (Which can be seen here.)
     “This ‘ordinariness’ is just that—ordinary, i.e., a bore. Presumably it is meant as satire. Except,  dammit, satire should be amusing!”     (Which can be seen here.)
     “Boring boring boring.”     (Which can be seen here.)
     “Once we get the point, it’s boring.”     (Which can be seen here.)
     “I’ll say. Too bad you don’t convey them to us!”     (Which can be seen here.)
     “Oh God.”     (Twice on one page.)     (Which can be seen here.)
     “Gawd. This is awful.”     (Which can be seen here.)
     “We got the point of this stuff a long time ago. A long time ago. It’s now BORING! And has been.”     (Which can be seen here.)

     Pg. 65 of David Markson’s copy of Mao II by Don DeLillo:

     On which Markson placed a line next to the words:
     “I think there’s an intensity that makes certain subjects a little dangerous. And we don’t have the camera between us. This changes everything, doesn’t it? Scott said six-thirty.”

      He then responded to that passage by writing in the margins:
     “Again the spurious mysticism.”

—-

     Judging from the comments in the margins, Markson seems to find DeLillo’s whole book to be spurious.

     In fact, bullshit.

     As I’ve mentioned here many-a-times, he placed the word "Bullshit" in the margins of Mao II rather frequently.

     Though I do not own his copy of DeLillo’s White Noise, Readers (of Markson Reading) familiar with the whole Markson Treasure Hunt also know that similar comments were written in Markson’s copy of that book as well.
     Many of which can be found here: in the London Review of Books article by Alex Abramovich and in that article’s comments.

     Markson’s DeLillo’s White Noise being, as the Abramovich article clearly shows, the book that began the whole Markson Treasure Hunt.

     Some of his DeLillo comments in that White Noise

     “I’ve finally solved this book—it’s sci-fi!”
     (Which was originally reported as “Oh I get it, it’s a sci-fi novel!” in the Abramovich article—hence the article’s title—but is corrected in the comments by the owner of the book Annecy Liddell.)
     (And which can be seen here.)

     “Oh god the pomposity, the portentousness—the bullshit!”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “Too cute.”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “This book may have set the all-time record for boredom. At 1/3 of the length, it might have worked.”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “D’ya ever fuck ‘er?”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “Are we supposed to believe this?”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “If this were not my first Delillo, I probably would have quit 100 pages ago. Surely now.”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “Oh, wow! Big deal.”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “This ‘ordinariness’ is just that—ordinary, i.e., a bore. Presumably it is meant as satire. Except, dammit, satire should be amusing!”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “Boring boring boring.”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “Once we get the point, it’s boring.”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “I’ll say. Too bad you don’t convey them to us!”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “Oh God.”
     (Twice on one page.)
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “Gawd. This is awful.”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     “We got the point of this stuff a long time ago. A long time ago. It’s now BORING! And has been.”
     (Which can be seen here.)

     The second page of the Foreword of David Markson’s copy of Dostoevsky: Works and Days by Avrahm Yarmolinsky:
     On which Markson put a check next to Yarmolinsky writing:     “The author is greatly indebted to his wife, Babette Deutsch, for generous help in the preparation of this book.”
—-
     Avrahm Yarmolinsky may be “greatly indebted to his wife,” but you know who else was?     David Markson.
     Dedicating Going Down:     “To Elaine, my wife, and to the memory of Malcolm Lowry.”
     David and Elaine Markson separated in 1982.
     Markson didn’t release what is widely seen as his masterpiece—Wittgenstein’s Mistress—until 1988. Even though he supposedly finished it sometime around 1983.
     “Although Elaine and David had separated by then, Elaine continued to represent her former husband’s work.”     Wrote Joanna Scott in her article "A Passionate Reader: On David Markson" in The Nation.
     His late-life success he undeniably owes, at least in small part, to his literary agent:     His ex-wife Elaine Markson, from the Markson Thoma Literary Agency.
     The author is greatly indebted to his wife.

     The second page of the Foreword of David Markson’s copy of Dostoevsky: Works and Days by Avrahm Yarmolinsky:

     On which Markson put a check next to Yarmolinsky writing:
     “The author is greatly indebted to his wife, Babette Deutsch, for generous help in the preparation of this book.”

—-

     Avrahm Yarmolinsky may be “greatly indebted to his wife,” but you know who else was?
     David Markson.

     Dedicating Going Down:
     “To Elaine, my wife, and to the memory of Malcolm Lowry.”

     David and Elaine Markson separated in 1982.

     Markson didn’t release what is widely seen as his masterpiece—Wittgenstein’s Mistress—until 1988. Even though he supposedly finished it sometime around 1983.

     “Although Elaine and David had separated by then, Elaine continued to represent her former husband’s work.”
     Wrote Joanna Scott in her article "A Passionate Reader: On David Markson" in The Nation.

     His late-life success he undeniably owes, at least in small part, to his literary agent:
     His ex-wife Elaine Markson, from the Markson Thoma Literary Agency.

     The author is greatly indebted to his wife.

     The table of contents of David Markson’s copy of A History of Latin Literature by Moses Hadas:
     On which Markson wrote next to the chapter on “SATIRE”:     “—Juvenal, Martial”
—-
     Speaking of Latin satire, let us glance at something Françoise Palleau-Papin wrote about Markson’s one novel that is no longer in print: Miss Doll, Go Home:     “Markson chose the killer for a literary mouthpiece because, ironically enough, the man who eventually murders all his accomplices is a free spirit like no other. His iconoclastic love for literature as well as people turns into hatred and destruction taken with the same pleasure, both love and hate being the proverbial two sides of the coin. The gangster’s favorite reading gives the key to the composition of the crime novel, which is akin to Latin satire, etymologically ‘a satire in the modern sense of the word, but also in the original Latin sense of a medley, a composite genre that mixes prose, verse, tragedy and comedy into a delightful motley of tones and genres.’ That satire takes delight in the grotesque mixing of tones, in incongruous borrowings and a well-crafted off-hand manner. In the Satyricon, Eumolpus, a serious-minded character, defines the work of a poet in such terms: ‘not can a mind, unless unricht with learning, be deliver’d of a birth of poetry.’ (p. 190). Miss Doll is so ‘enriched with learning’ that the delivery is a hilarious mixture of genres.”      From Pg. 36 of This Is Not A Tragedy by Françoise Palleau-Papin.
     All Markson’s novels in some sense a satire?
     Lanx satura.
     “An assemblage.” - Reader’s Block, pg. 140.
     “Bricolage." - Reader’s Block, pg. 141.
     Lanx satura.
     As in: “A full dish of various kinds of fruits.”
     “A hilarious mixture of genres.”

     The table of contents of David Markson’s copy of A History of Latin Literature by Moses Hadas:

     On which Markson wrote next to the chapter on “SATIRE”:
     “—Juvenal, Martial”

—-

     Speaking of Latin satire, let us glance at something Françoise Palleau-Papin wrote about Markson’s one novel that is no longer in print: Miss Doll, Go Home:
     “Markson chose the killer for a literary mouthpiece because, ironically enough, the man who eventually murders all his accomplices is a free spirit like no other. His iconoclastic love for literature as well as people turns into hatred and destruction taken with the same pleasure, both love and hate being the proverbial two sides of the coin. The gangster’s favorite reading gives the key to the composition of the crime novel, which is akin to Latin satire, etymologically ‘a satire in the modern sense of the word, but also in the original Latin sense of a medley, a composite genre that mixes prose, verse, tragedy and comedy into a delightful motley of tones and genres.’ That satire takes delight in the grotesque mixing of tones, in incongruous borrowings and a well-crafted off-hand manner. In the Satyricon, Eumolpus, a serious-minded character, defines the work of a poet in such terms: ‘not can a mind, unless unricht with learning, be deliver’d of a birth of poetry.’ (p. 190). Miss Doll is so ‘enriched with learning’ that the delivery is a hilarious mixture of genres.”
     From Pg. 36 of This Is Not A Tragedy by Françoise Palleau-Papin.

     All Markson’s novels in some sense a satire?

     Lanx satura.

     “An assemblage.” - Reader’s Block, pg. 140.

     “Bricolage." - Reader’s Block, pg. 141.

     Lanx satura.

     As in: “A full dish of various kinds of fruits.”

     “A hilarious mixture of genres.”

     The first page of David Markson’s copy of The Spirit of Tragedy by Herbert J. Muller:
     On which Markson placed as an inscription:     “Markson     NYC - 1981”
—-
     This is my third post of Markson inscriptions from 1981.     Not sure why I’m on a kick of posting his inscriptions.     I have plenty of actual marginalia left.     And why am I focusing on 1981?     Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason.     And sometimes rhyme and reason only become clear long after the fact.
     Nonetheless, here is the first page of Herbert Muller’s The Spirit of Tragedy.
     Tragedy is an important concept in Markson’s oeuvre.
     Hence the title of the only book length study of Markson—at least the only one thus far:     This Is Not A Tragedy by Françoise Palleau-Papin.
     As she explains:     “Markson does not wish to repeat Greek tragedy, which no longer suits our times. There is no chorus anymore, no coryphaeus leading it, no community implied in the misfortunes of a family torn by power and strife. The rule of everyone for his own has made secession irrevocable, and society has disintegrated. Today, we could only reread the Greek tragedies repeatedly, the way Karl Marx used to, according to Vanishing Point: ‘Karl Marx reread the Oresteia once every year.’ (VP, p. 73) Did the theorist of class struggle reread the Oresteia to immerse himself in a world that stayed coherent in spite of its being torn apart? His own world had lost the stability of the Ancient Greek cosmos. Ours could only claim such coherence under the yoke of totalitarian fanaticism. Precisely, what is most frightening in tragedy, from its ancient origin in a goat sacrifice, is that it reveals a community’s desire to sacrifice the other, the scapegoat.” (Pg. xxxi of the Intro).
     “Goat song.”     Wrote Markson in Reader’s Block, pg. 30.
     “And goatsong, Fern? Don’t you remember the derivation?”     Wrote Markson in Going Down, pg. 190.
     “But the very word tragedy means ‘goat song,’ and as we have  seen, he has several times given us the goat as well—so it is perhaps  also of interest here that the chief objects of sacrifice at the rites  of Dionysus were oxen and goats.”     Wrote Markson in Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano: Myth Symbol Meaning, pg. 160.
     Scapegoatsong?

     The first page of David Markson’s copy of The Spirit of Tragedy by Herbert J. Muller:

     On which Markson placed as an inscription:
     “Markson
     NYC - 1981

—-

     This is my third post of Markson inscriptions from 1981.
     Not sure why I’m on a kick of posting his inscriptions.
     I have plenty of actual marginalia left.
     And why am I focusing on 1981?
     Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason.
     And sometimes rhyme and reason only become clear long after the fact.

     Nonetheless, here is the first page of Herbert Muller’s The Spirit of Tragedy.

     Tragedy is an important concept in Markson’s oeuvre.

     Hence the title of the only book length study of Markson—at least the only one thus far:
     This Is Not A Tragedy by Françoise Palleau-Papin.

     As she explains:
     “Markson does not wish to repeat Greek tragedy, which no longer suits our times. There is no chorus anymore, no coryphaeus leading it, no community implied in the misfortunes of a family torn by power and strife. The rule of everyone for his own has made secession irrevocable, and society has disintegrated. Today, we could only reread the Greek tragedies repeatedly, the way Karl Marx used to, according to Vanishing Point: ‘Karl Marx reread the Oresteia once every year.’ (VP, p. 73) Did the theorist of class struggle reread the Oresteia to immerse himself in a world that stayed coherent in spite of its being torn apart? His own world had lost the stability of the Ancient Greek cosmos. Ours could only claim such coherence under the yoke of totalitarian fanaticism. Precisely, what is most frightening in tragedy, from its ancient origin in a goat sacrifice, is that it reveals a community’s desire to sacrifice the other, the scapegoat.” (Pg. xxxi of the Intro).

     “Goat song.”
     Wrote Markson in Reader’s Block, pg. 30.

     “And goatsong, Fern? Don’t you remember the derivation?”
     Wrote Markson in Going Down, pg. 190.

     “But the very word tragedy means ‘goat song,’ and as we have seen, he has several times given us the goat as well—so it is perhaps also of interest here that the chief objects of sacrifice at the rites of Dionysus were oxen and goats.”
     Wrote Markson in Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano: Myth Symbol Meaning, pg. 160.

     Scapegoatsong?