Pg. 344 of David Markson’s copy of The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature by Gilbert Highet:
     On which Markson placed a line in the margin next to a paragraph on Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that starts with the sentence:     “One of the greatest intellectual and artistic achievements of the baroque age was a study of the conflict between the Roman empire and the forces that destroyed it.”
—
     Edward Gibbon’s great intellectual and artistic achievement The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire—no surprise—makes a handful of appearances in Markson’s Notecard Quartet…
     “Lo, there is just appeared a truly classic work.     Wrote Horace Walpole—within one day of the publication of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.”     Markson wrote on pg. 40 of The Last Novel.
     Another mention of Walpole in relation to Decline and Fall happened in the previous novel in the tetralogy, Vanishing Point, on pg. 61:     “Horace Walpole’s cautious suggestion to Gibbon that certain lesser technical portions of the Decline and Fall might be boring.     After which Gibbon never spoke to him again.”
     Also from Vanishing Point (on pg. 176):     “Given pause by the coincidence of the Declaration of Independence having been signed in the same year as the publication of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”
     And lastly:     “Sailing the circumference of Lake Geneva, Byron and Shelley took time to pay homage at the house in Lausanne where Gibbon had written a great deal of The Decline and Fall.”     From pg. 120 of Markson’s This Is Not A Novel.

     Pg. 344 of David Markson’s copy of The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature by Gilbert Highet:

     On which Markson placed a line in the margin next to a paragraph on Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that starts with the sentence:
     “One of the greatest intellectual and artistic achievements of the baroque age was a study of the conflict between the Roman empire and the forces that destroyed it.”

     Edward Gibbon’s great intellectual and artistic achievement The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire—no surprise—makes a handful of appearances in Markson’s Notecard Quartet

     “Lo, there is just appeared a truly classic work.
     Wrote Horace Walpole—within one day of the publication of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.”
     Markson wrote on pg. 40 of The Last Novel.

     Another mention of Walpole in relation to Decline and Fall happened in the previous novel in the tetralogy, Vanishing Point, on pg. 61:
     “Horace Walpole’s cautious suggestion to Gibbon that certain lesser technical portions of the Decline and Fall might be boring.
     After which Gibbon never spoke to him again.”

     Also from Vanishing Point (on pg. 176):
     “Given pause by the coincidence of the Declaration of Independence having been signed in the same year as the publication of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

     And lastly:
     “Sailing the circumference of Lake Geneva, Byron and Shelley took time to pay homage at the house in Lausanne where Gibbon had written a great deal of The Decline and Fall.”
     From pg. 120 of Markson’s This Is Not A Novel.

     Pg. 594 of David Markson’s copy of Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia:
     On which Paglia quotes W. H. Auden as saying:     “It is not an accident that many homosexuals should show a special preference for sailors, for the sailor on shore is symbolically the innocent god from the sea who is not bound by the law of the land and can therefore do anything without guilt.”     To which Markson replies:     “Oh, Jesus. Plus that he’s probably horny….plus that he’s used to homosexuality in a womanless world at sea.”
—-
     In a womanless world at sea…
     “Just an old queen, Auden spoke of himself as.”     According to Markson’s novel The Last Novel. On pg. 177.
     “It is not an accident that many homosexuals should show a special preference for sailors, for the sailor on shore is symbolically the innocent god from the sea who is not bound by the law of the land and can therefore do anything without guilt.”
     Speaking of the water v. the land:     Old saying: One never steps into the same river twice.
     Which Markson reports was converted into:     “One never steps twice into the same Auden.     Said Randall Jarrell.”     On pg. 177 of The Last Novel.
     One ever step twice into the same sailor?
     Can therefore do anything without guilt.

     Pg. 594 of David Markson’s copy of Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia:

     On which Paglia quotes W. H. Auden as saying:
     “It is not an accident that many homosexuals should show a special preference for sailors, for the sailor on shore is symbolically the innocent god from the sea who is not bound by the law of the land and can therefore do anything without guilt.”
     To which Markson replies:
     “Oh, Jesus. Plus that he’s probably horny….plus that he’s used to homosexuality in a womanless world at sea.”

—-

     In a womanless world at sea…

     “Just an old queen, Auden spoke of himself as.”
     According to Markson’s novel The Last Novel. On pg. 177.

     “It is not an accident that many homosexuals should show a special preference for sailors, for the sailor on shore is symbolically the innocent god from the sea who is not bound by the law of the land and can therefore do anything without guilt.”

     Speaking of the water v. the land:
     Old saying: One never steps into the same river twice.

     Which Markson reports was converted into:
     “One never steps twice into the same Auden.
     Said Randall Jarrell.”
     On pg. 177 of The Last Novel.

     One ever step twice into the same sailor?

     Can therefore do anything without guilt.

     Pg. 159 of David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater:
     On which Markson placed a check mark next to the following information about Rainer Maria Rilke’s New Poems:     “The second volume of the New Poems would be dedicated ‘A mon grand ami Auguste Rodin.’”
—
     The friendship of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin.
     Mentioned only once together in Markson’s Notecard Quartet, though separately they both make many appearances throughout those four novels.
     Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin.     Together.     On pg. 183 of The Last Novel:     “One must go on working. And one must have patience.     Rodin told Rilke.”
     A mon grand ami Auguste Rodin.
     = To my great friend Auguste Rodin.
—
     David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater is owned by John Harrison. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © John Harrison.

     Pg. 159 of David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater:

     On which Markson placed a check mark next to the following information about Rainer Maria Rilke’s New Poems:
     “The second volume of the New Poems would be dedicated ‘A mon grand ami Auguste Rodin.’”

     The friendship of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin.

     Mentioned only once together in Markson’s Notecard Quartet, though separately they both make many appearances throughout those four novels.

     Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin.
     Together.
     On pg. 183 of The Last Novel:
     “One must go on working. And one must have patience.
     Rodin told Rilke.”

     A mon grand ami Auguste Rodin.

     = To my great friend Auguste Rodin.

     David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater is owned by John Harrison. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © John Harrison.

     Pg. 42 of David Markson’s copy of A Homemade World: The American Modernist Writers by Hugh Kenner:
     On which Markson placed lines in the margin next to the following:     “And into Gatsby, the North Dakota parvenu with mysterious sources of wealth, went much that was pertinent to a Minnesota parvenu who had found he could write himself out of debt at will ($1,500 per story: $1,500 shreds sliced from his talent)—a knack denied to James Joyce and Joseph Conrad. Into Gatsby went much of his awe at his own Midas touch, and his knowledge of the complex bond that secured Zelda Sayre to him with hoops of gold, and guilt for his squandering of talent and material, squandering he was powerless to arrest because he was also powerless to manage money. ‘I don’t know anyone,’ he wrote Max Perkins, ‘who has used up so much personal experience as I have at 27’; used up, he also said, on ‘trashy imaginings’; but the new books (Gatsby), he said in the same letter, would not be like that.”
—
     Oh, Fitzgerald squandering his talent on his “trashy imaginings.”
     “I had been only a mediocre caretaker of most of the things left in my hands, even of my talent, Scott Fitzgerald said.”     From Markson’s Reader’s Block, pg. 179.
     But Gatsby “would not be like that.”     Fitzgerald assured Max Perkins.
     The Great Gatsby received positive reviews and was somewhat of a commercial success upon its release.
     And yet, it never had the kind of commercial success his novels This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned received.
     Gatsby and Fitzgerald were both pretty much forgotten by the time of his death.
     “F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a sequence of heart attacks.     His most recent royalty statement showed seven copies of The Great Gatsby sold during the preceding six months.”     So says Markson in This Is Not A Novel, on pg. 114.
     And on pg. 37 of Vanishing Point, Markson explained:     “Not long after Scott Fitzgerald’s death, Scribner’s let The Great Gatsby go out of print.     And then rejected the collection called The Crack-Up.”
     Maybe Fitzgerald was “only a mediocre caretaker” of his talent, squandering plenty of it on “trashy imaginings,” but he was right:     Gatsby “would not be like that.”
     Even if there were times when the book wasn’t appreciated, when it didn’t sell much, and when it went out of print, The Great Gatsby is now often cited as one of the greatest American novel of all time, if not THE greatest American novel.
     Too often great artists aren’t appreciated til long after their deaths.     A point Markson makes throughout his oeuvre.
     Sadly, Fitzgerald didn’t get to see the rise of his literary import in the last half of the 20th century, and died thinking of himself as somewhat of a failure, but still, it’s a happy ending for a “mediocre caretaker.”
     He has been vindicated.
—
     David Markson’s copy of A Homemade World: The American Modernist Writers by Hugh Kenner is owned by John Harrison. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © John Harrison.

     Pg. 42 of David Markson’s copy of A Homemade World: The American Modernist Writers by Hugh Kenner:

     On which Markson placed lines in the margin next to the following:
     “And into Gatsby, the North Dakota parvenu with mysterious sources of wealth, went much that was pertinent to a Minnesota parvenu who had found he could write himself out of debt at will ($1,500 per story: $1,500 shreds sliced from his talent)—a knack denied to James Joyce and Joseph Conrad. Into Gatsby went much of his awe at his own Midas touch, and his knowledge of the complex bond that secured Zelda Sayre to him with hoops of gold, and guilt for his squandering of talent and material, squandering he was powerless to arrest because he was also powerless to manage money. ‘I don’t know anyone,’ he wrote Max Perkins, ‘who has used up so much personal experience as I have at 27’; used up, he also said, on ‘trashy imaginings’; but the new books (Gatsby), he said in the same letter, would not be like that.”

     Oh, Fitzgerald squandering his talent on his “trashy imaginings.”

     “I had been only a mediocre caretaker of most of the things left in my hands, even of my talent, Scott Fitzgerald said.”
     From Markson’s Reader’s Block, pg. 179.

     But Gatsby “would not be like that.”
     Fitzgerald assured Max Perkins.

     The Great Gatsby received positive reviews and was somewhat of a commercial success upon its release.

     And yet, it never had the kind of commercial success his novels This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned received.

     Gatsby and Fitzgerald were both pretty much forgotten by the time of his death.

     “F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a sequence of heart attacks.
     His most recent royalty statement showed seven copies of The Great Gatsby sold during the preceding six months.”
     So says Markson in This Is Not A Novel, on pg. 114.

     And on pg. 37 of Vanishing Point, Markson explained:
     “Not long after Scott Fitzgerald’s death, Scribner’s let The Great Gatsby go out of print.
     And then rejected the collection called The Crack-Up.”

     Maybe Fitzgerald was “only a mediocre caretaker” of his talent, squandering plenty of it on “trashy imaginings,” but he was right:
     Gatsby “would not be like that.”

     Even if there were times when the book wasn’t appreciated, when it didn’t sell much, and when it went out of print, The Great Gatsby is now often cited as one of the greatest American novel of all time, if not THE greatest American novel.

     Too often great artists aren’t appreciated til long after their deaths.
     A point Markson makes throughout his oeuvre.

     Sadly, Fitzgerald didn’t get to see the rise of his literary import in the last half of the 20th century, and died thinking of himself as somewhat of a failure, but still, it’s a happy ending for a “mediocre caretaker.”

     He has been vindicated.

     David Markson’s copy of A Homemade World: The American Modernist Writers by Hugh Kenner is owned by John Harrison. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © John Harrison.

     Pg. 260 of David Markson’s copy of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein:
     On which Markson placed a line and an arrow, above which he wrote:     “HEMINGWAY:     10 pages.”
—
     “Gertrude Stein and me are just like brothers.      Says Hemingway in a letter.”      Found on pg. 110 of Markson’s Vanishing Point.
     Obviously the above scan shows the page which begins the section of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas where Stein discusses her “brother” Ernest Hemingway.
     On pg. 136 of This Is Not A Novel, Markson relays one of the things Stein says of Hemingway in this section of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas:     “A pansy with hair on his chest, Zelda Fitzgerald called Hemingway.     Ninety percent Rotarian, supplied Gertrude Stein.”
     The full quote from The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas reads:     “They sat and talked a long time. Finally I heard her say, Hemingway, after all you are ninety percent Rotarian. Can’t you, he said, make it eighty percent. No, said she regretfully, I can’t. After all, as she always says, he did, and I may say, he does have moments of disinterestedness.”
     Brothers.

     Pg. 260 of David Markson’s copy of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein:

     On which Markson placed a line and an arrow, above which he wrote:
     “HEMINGWAY:
     10 pages.”

     “Gertrude Stein and me are just like brothers.
     Says Hemingway in a letter.”
     Found on pg. 110 of Markson’s Vanishing Point.

     Obviously the above scan shows the page which begins the section of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas where Stein discusses her “brother” Ernest Hemingway.

     On pg. 136 of This Is Not A Novel, Markson relays one of the things Stein says of Hemingway in this section of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas:
     “A pansy with hair on his chest, Zelda Fitzgerald called Hemingway.
     Ninety percent Rotarian, supplied Gertrude Stein.”

     The full quote from The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas reads:
     “They sat and talked a long time. Finally I heard her say, Hemingway, after all you are ninety percent Rotarian. Can’t you, he said, make it eighty percent. No, said she regretfully, I can’t. After all, as she always says, he did, and I may say, he does have moments of disinterestedness.”

     Brothers.

     Pg. 254 of David Markson’s copy of Forces in Modern British Literature: 1885-1946 by William York Tindall:
     On which Markson placed the text of the entire page in a bracket and wrote:     “See Edmund Wilson = Axel’s Castle.”
—
     Axel’s Castle: A Study in the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930 is a book of literary criticism by Edmund Wilson. First published in 1931, it is a survey of Symbolism from the last 30 years of the 19th century and the first 30 years of the 20th century. It dealt with poets and novelists as varied as Arthur Rimbaud, Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, W. B. Yeats, Paul Valéry, T. S. Eliot, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein.
     Edmund Wilson, like many a literary critic, was known as a voracious reader.
     My favorite of his mentions in Markson’s Notecard Quartet comes towards the end of the final book of the tetralogy and deals with this inexhaustible appetite for reading of Wilson’s:
     “The report that to keep him from sitting with a book for sixteen hours a day. Edmund Wilson’s parents bought him a baseball uniform. Which he happily put on—and sat in with a book for sixteen hours a day.”      - The Last Novel, pg. 168.

     Pg. 254 of David Markson’s copy of Forces in Modern British Literature: 1885-1946 by William York Tindall:

     On which Markson placed the text of the entire page in a bracket and wrote:
     “See Edmund Wilson = Axel’s Castle.”

     Axel’s Castle: A Study in the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930 is a book of literary criticism by Edmund Wilson. First published in 1931, it is a survey of Symbolism from the last 30 years of the 19th century and the first 30 years of the 20th century. It dealt with poets and novelists as varied as Arthur Rimbaud, Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, W. B. Yeats, Paul Valéry, T. S. Eliot, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein.

     Edmund Wilson, like many a literary critic, was known as a voracious reader.

     My favorite of his mentions in Markson’s Notecard Quartet comes towards the end of the final book of the tetralogy and deals with this inexhaustible appetite for reading of Wilson’s:

     “The report that to keep him from sitting with a book for sixteen hours a day. Edmund Wilson’s parents bought him a baseball uniform. Which he happily put on—and sat in with a book for sixteen hours a day.”
      - The Last Novel, pg. 168.

     Pg. 286 of David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater:
     On which Markson placed a check next to the following re: Rilke:     “Kessler in his diary judged him, shrewdly, as an aesthete who was ready for any adventure of the spirit or of form, but who lacked the simultaneous capacity for adventures of brutal reality which others like Dante, Shakespeare, or Byron had shown in such times of upheaval.”
—
     Kessler in his diary judged him, shrewdly, as an aesthete…etc. etc.
     “For whatever aesthete’s reasons, Rilke could not be troubled to attend his own daughter’s wedding.”     - Markson, Reader’s Block, pg. 162.
—
     David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater is owned by John Harrison. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © John Harrison.

     Pg. 286 of David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater:

     On which Markson placed a check next to the following re: Rilke:
     “Kessler in his diary judged him, shrewdly, as an aesthete who was ready for any adventure of the spirit or of form, but who lacked the simultaneous capacity for adventures of brutal reality which others like Dante, Shakespeare, or Byron had shown in such times of upheaval.”

     Kessler in his diary judged him, shrewdly, as an aesthete…etc. etc.

     “For whatever aesthete’s reasons, Rilke could not be troubled to attend his own daughter’s wedding.”
     - Markson, Reader’s Block, pg. 162.

     David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater is owned by John Harrison. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © John Harrison.

     The first page of David Markson’s copy of Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics by Mikhail Bakhtin:
     On which Markson wrote as an inscription:     “Markson NYC ‘82”
—
     Though Bakhtin’s Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics is not mentioned in Markson’s tetralogy, Bakhtin’s problems with his leg are:
     “Mikhail Bakhtin lost a leg to bone disease.”     - Reader’s Block, pg. 147.
     “Frida Kahlo’s amputated leg.     Mikhail Bakhtin’s.”     - The Last Novel, pg. 127.

     The first page of David Markson’s copy of Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics by Mikhail Bakhtin:

     On which Markson wrote as an inscription:
     “Markson NYC ‘82”

     Though Bakhtin’s Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics is not mentioned in Markson’s tetralogy, Bakhtin’s problems with his leg are:

     “Mikhail Bakhtin lost a leg to bone disease.”
     - Reader’s Block, pg. 147.

     “Frida Kahlo’s amputated leg.
     Mikhail Bakhtin’s.”
     - The Last Novel, pg. 127.

     Pg. 364 of David Markson’s copy of Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia:
     On which Markson responded with the words:     “That’s pretty damned irrelevant.”     To the paragraph:     “Byron, the Romantic exile, did England a favor. Energy and beauty together are burning, godlike, destructive. Byron created the youth-cult that would sweep Elvis Presley to uncomfortable fame. In our affluent commercial culture, this man of beauty was able to ignore politics and build his empire elsewhere. A ritual function of contemporary popular culture: to parallel and purify government. The modern charismatic personality has access to movies, television, and music, with their enormous reach. Mass media act as a barrier protecting politics, which would otherwise be unbalanced by the entrance of men of epochal narcissistic glamour. Today’s Byronic man of beauty is a Presley who dominates the imagination, not a Buckingham who disorders a state.”
—
    The “irrelevance” of the Elvis Presley mention aside, here are a couple things about “Byron, the Romantic exile” that Markson thought to put in Reader’s Block:
     “Byron went into permanent exile from England in late April of 1816, near Passover. One of the last London friends he saw was the composer Isaac Nathan.     Who brought him a farewell gift of matzos.” (Pg. 83)
     “Byron was only thirty-six when he died, yet had already grown overweight and flaccid, with thinning hair and abominable teeth.     Nonetheless every second town in Greece would name a public square after him.” (Pg. 42)

     Pg. 364 of David Markson’s copy of Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia:

     On which Markson responded with the words:
     “That’s pretty damned irrelevant.”
     To the paragraph:
     “Byron, the Romantic exile, did England a favor. Energy and beauty together are burning, godlike, destructive. Byron created the youth-cult that would sweep Elvis Presley to uncomfortable fame. In our affluent commercial culture, this man of beauty was able to ignore politics and build his empire elsewhere. A ritual function of contemporary popular culture: to parallel and purify government. The modern charismatic personality has access to movies, television, and music, with their enormous reach. Mass media act as a barrier protecting politics, which would otherwise be unbalanced by the entrance of men of epochal narcissistic glamour. Today’s Byronic man of beauty is a Presley who dominates the imagination, not a Buckingham who disorders a state.”

    The “irrelevance” of the Elvis Presley mention aside, here are a couple things about “Byron, the Romantic exile” that Markson thought to put in Reader’s Block:

     “Byron went into permanent exile from England in late April of 1816, near Passover. One of the last London friends he saw was the composer Isaac Nathan.
     Who brought him a farewell gift of matzos.” (Pg. 83)

     “Byron was only thirty-six when he died, yet had already grown overweight and flaccid, with thinning hair and abominable teeth.
     Nonetheless every second town in Greece would name a public square after him.” (Pg. 42)

     Pg. 101 of David Markson’s copy of The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature by Gilbert Highet:
     On which Markson drew a line in the margin and underlined the following sentence:     “The first literary translation from one language into another was made about 250 B.C., when the half-Greek half-Roman poet Livius Andronicus turned Homer’s Odyssey into Latin for use as a textbook of Greek poetry and legend.”
—
     This little factoid (with one major alteration) can be found on pg. 74 of Markson’s Reader’s Block:     “The first translation of major length for purely literary purposes was a Latin Iliad, ca. 250 B.C., by Livius Andronicus.”
     Notice Markson wrote the Iliad was the first translated work, not the Odyssey.
     Surprisingly, Markson got this wrong. Just a little bit of online research seconds Highet’s assertion that it was indeed the Odyssey that was the first translated work.
     A rare Markson mistake.

     Pg. 101 of David Markson’s copy of The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature by Gilbert Highet:

     On which Markson drew a line in the margin and underlined the following sentence:
     “The first literary translation from one language into another was made about 250 B.C., when the half-Greek half-Roman poet Livius Andronicus turned Homer’s Odyssey into Latin for use as a textbook of Greek poetry and legend.”

     This little factoid (with one major alteration) can be found on pg. 74 of Markson’s Reader’s Block:
     “The first translation of major length for purely literary purposes was a Latin Iliad, ca. 250 B.C., by Livius Andronicus.”

     Notice Markson wrote the Iliad was the first translated work, not the Odyssey.

     Surprisingly, Markson got this wrong. Just a little bit of online research seconds Highet’s assertion that it was indeed the Odyssey that was the first translated work.

     A rare Markson mistake.