Pg. 257 of David Markson’s copy of The Complete Greek Drama: Volume Two by Various (Ed. Whitney J. Oates & Eugene O’Neill, Jr.):
     On which Markson placed a check next to and underlined a stage direction in Euripides’ The Bacchae:     “(who during the rest of this scene, with a few exceptions, simply speaks the thoughts that Dionysus puts into him, losing power over his own mind)”
     In addition to some other underlining of lines by Dionysus and Pentheus.
—
     Speaking of Dionysus putting thoughts into one’s head and losing power over one’s own mind…
     “The myth that Dionysus invented wine.      On Mount Nysa.      In Libya.”     Wrote Markson on pg. 163 of Vanishing Point.

     Pg. 257 of David Markson’s copy of The Complete Greek Drama: Volume Two by Various (Ed. Whitney J. Oates & Eugene O’Neill, Jr.):

     On which Markson placed a check next to and underlined a stage direction in Euripides’ The Bacchae:
     “(who during the rest of this scene, with a few exceptions, simply speaks the thoughts that Dionysus puts into him, losing power over his own mind)”

     In addition to some other underlining of lines by Dionysus and Pentheus.

     Speaking of Dionysus putting thoughts into one’s head and losing power over one’s own mind…

     “The myth that Dionysus invented wine.
     On Mount Nysa.
     In Libya.”
     Wrote Markson on pg. 163 of Vanishing Point.

     Pg. 55 of David Markson’s copy of A Homemade World: The American Modernist Writers by Hugh Kenner:
     On which Markson placed a line in the margin next to part of a quote from poet Wallace Stevens on his contemporary William Carlos Williams:     “I have not read Paterson. I have the greatest respect for him, although there is the contrast difficulty that he is more interested in the way of saying things than in what he has to say. The fact remains that we are always fundamentally interested in what a writer has to say. When we are sure of that, we pay attention to the way in which he says it, not often before.”
     And then Markson puts a squiggle to the sentence that Kenner writes in response to Stevens’ reading of Williams:     “This is one of the most extraordinary misunderstandings in literary history.”
—
     So what does Markson think of “one of the most extraordinary misunderstandings in literary history”?
     Where would Markson stand in a Stevens v. Williams deathmatch?
     Well, though we should be careful not to completely conflate the “Novelist” persona in The Last Novel with Markson himself, there are obvious points of similarity between character and author, and the Novelist might offer a point of entry into the novelist’s (Markson’s) thoughts on Wallace Stevens:     The Novelist in The Last Novel (and perhaps Markson himself) thought this of Stevens:     “Wondering if there can be any other ranking twentieth-century American poet whose body of work contains even half the percentage of pure drivel as Wallace Stevens’.” (Pg. 109)
     And yet, Markson’s thoughts on William Carlos Williams also seem to be less than enthusiastic—and we don’t have to use the filter of one of his characters to discover his thoughts here:     On another page in this Hugh Kenner book, once owned by David Markson, Markson wrote in the margin his thoughts on William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore:     “Not if your poetry is not very good—which theirs isn’t.”
     “Tell me honestly, Cal. Am I as good a poet as Shelley?     Asked William Carlos Williams, not long before his death, of Robert Lowell.”     An anecdote found on pg. 178 of The Last Novel.
     Makes me imagine my own scene of WCW on his deathbed:     “Tell me honestly, Dave. Am I as good a poet as Stevens?     Asked William Carlos Williams, not long before his death, of David Markson.”     What would Markson have said?
—
     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. 55 of David Markson’s copy of A Homemade World: The American Modernist Writers by Hugh Kenner:

     On which Markson placed a line in the margin next to part of a quote from poet Wallace Stevens on his contemporary William Carlos Williams:
     “I have not read Paterson. I have the greatest respect for him, although there is the contrast difficulty that he is more interested in the way of saying things than in what he has to say. The fact remains that we are always fundamentally interested in what a writer has to say. When we are sure of that, we pay attention to the way in which he says it, not often before.”

     And then Markson puts a squiggle to the sentence that Kenner writes in response to Stevens’ reading of Williams:
     “This is one of the most extraordinary misunderstandings in literary history.”

     So what does Markson think of “one of the most extraordinary misunderstandings in literary history”?

     Where would Markson stand in a Stevens v. Williams deathmatch?

     Well, though we should be careful not to completely conflate the “Novelist” persona in The Last Novel with Markson himself, there are obvious points of similarity between character and author, and the Novelist might offer a point of entry into the novelist’s (Markson’s) thoughts on Wallace Stevens:
     The Novelist in The Last Novel (and perhaps Markson himself) thought this of Stevens:
     “Wondering if there can be any other ranking twentieth-century American poet whose body of work contains even half the percentage of pure drivel as Wallace Stevens’.” (Pg. 109)

     And yet, Markson’s thoughts on William Carlos Williams also seem to be less than enthusiastic—and we don’t have to use the filter of one of his characters to discover his thoughts here:
     On another page in this Hugh Kenner book, once owned by David Markson, Markson wrote in the margin his thoughts on William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore:
     “Not if your poetry is not very good—which theirs isn’t.”

     “Tell me honestly, Cal. Am I as good a poet as Shelley?
     Asked William Carlos Williams, not long before his death, of Robert Lowell.”
     An anecdote found on pg. 178 of The Last Novel.

     Makes me imagine my own scene of WCW on his deathbed:
     “Tell me honestly, Dave. Am I as good a poet as Stevens?
     Asked William Carlos Williams, not long before his death, of David Markson.”
     What would Markson have said?

     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. 259 of David Markson’s copy of Pasternak: A Biography by Ronald Hingley:
     On which David Markson placed two lines and a check in the margin next to the following paragraph re: how compared to other Russian writers Pasternak didn’t have it so rough:     “Akhmatova was to carry her resentment of Pasternak beyond the grave. Shortly after his death she exploded with indignation on hearing one of his admirers describe him as a martyr to persecution. This was stuff and nonsense, she told Chukovskaya. Far from being a sacrificial victim, Boris Leonidovich had been extraordinarily lucky. His temperament had ensured that he always enjoyed himself in any circumstances whatever. Almost all his writings achieved publication in the Soviet Union or abroad, and the rest had been eagerly passed from hand to hand in manuscript. Pasternak had always had money; Akhmatova had long been desperately poor. Neither of Pasternak’s sons had ever been arrested; Akhmatova’s son had served long terms in labour camps. One had only to compare Pasternak’s fate with Mandelstam’s and Tsvetayeva’s to see how fortunate he had been. And Chukovskaya could not help reflecting that Pasternak’s sufferings over the Nobel Prize affair had been a mere ‘butterflies’ duel’ in comparison with the persecution of Akhmatova and of Zoshchenko from 1946 onwards.”
—-
     The “Nobel Prize affair” mentioned in the marked paragraph is in reference to Pasternak receiving the prize in 1958, and his subsequent threatening by the Soviet government to the point that he was forced to renounce the prize.
     As Markson puts it in Vanishing Point on pg. 87:     “A reactionary bourgeois award, Pravda called Pasternak’s Nobel Prize.     Which he was forced to decline.”
     And yet, Ahkmatova is right.     Sure, Pasternak didn’t necessarily have it easy—no one would say having to renounce one of the most prestigious awards in the world is easy—but compared to most other Russian writers of the time period, it’s tough to see him as “a martyr to persecution.”
     “The myriad Anna Akhmatova poems, written over decades, which she or friends were forced to immediately memorize.     Because under Soviet rule she was afraid to put them on paper.”     Markson explains on pg. 152 of Vanishing Point.
     On pg. 26 of the same book:     “The fact that Isaac Babel was executed in a Moscow prison cellar.     The strong possibility that the manuscript of a novel confiscated at his arrest still exists in Stalin-era files.”
     Also in Vanishing Point, on pg. 60, Markson makes mention of “the first time Osip Mandelstam was arrested by Soviet authorities.”     The operative word, of course, being first.
     “Osip Mandelstam once wrote a poem criticizing Stalin.     And died in a Gulag.”     Markson quite succinctly put it in This Is Not A Novel on pg. 28.
     Also in that book, on pg. 55:     “In his mid-twenties, Joseph Brodsky was sentenced to five years shoveling manure at the White Sea for what the Soviet Union saw as social parasitism.”
     And on pg. 85 of same:     “Meyerhold was executed by the Soviets.”
     Pg. 10 of This Is Not A Novel also questions the death of Gorky:     “Maxim Gorky died of tuberculosis.     Or was he ordered murdered by Stalin?”
     “Imperialist bourgeois and decadent counterrevolutionary tendencies.     Both Shostakovich and Prokofiev were accused of at one time or another by Soviet authorities.”     Markson writes in The Last Novel, on pg. 19.
     “Through much of her life, Marina Tsvetayeva was forced to endure practically a beggar’s existence. And with her nearest relatives repeatedly imprisoned.     Akhmatova fared little better, confronted by the same family jailings, often subsisting for long periods on little more than black bread.”     Wrote Markson on pg. 53 of Reader’s Block.
    A few pages before that, on 51, a mention of Mandelstam in the Soviet camps:    “Convinced he was being poisoned, Osip Mandelstam may have sometimes stolen food from other inmates in his Soviet prison camp. And been beaten for it. At the end he survived on scraps from a garbage heap.”
     “D. S. Mirsky died in Siberia in one of Stalin’s purges.”     Markson wrote in Reader’s Block on pg. 59.
     On pg. 91 of the same book:     “Irina Ratushinskaya. At twenty-eight, as late as in 1982, sentenced to seven years in the strictest of Russian prison camps.     For writing verse deemed unsuitable to the state.”
     A few pages later on 105:     “Hayim Lenski died of starvation in a Soviet labor camp. Sent there for having written poems in Hebrew.”
     Further on in Reader’s Block on pg. 151:     “Isaac Babel disappeared in one of Stalin’s purges. Nothing whatsoever is known about his death.     Conversely, orders allegedly given by Stalin in regard to Pasternak: Don’t touch the cloud-dweller.”
     “Cloud-dweller.”      Possibly a reference to Pasternak’s poetry collection Twin in the Clouds.     In addition, obviously, to the “head in the clouds” lyrical romantic poet implication.
     The cloud-dweller “a martyr to persecution”?
     I think I’d go with Ahkmatova on this one:     Stuff and nonsense.

     Pg. 259 of David Markson’s copy of Pasternak: A Biography by Ronald Hingley:

     On which David Markson placed two lines and a check in the margin next to the following paragraph re: how compared to other Russian writers Pasternak didn’t have it so rough:
     “Akhmatova was to carry her resentment of Pasternak beyond the grave. Shortly after his death she exploded with indignation on hearing one of his admirers describe him as a martyr to persecution. This was stuff and nonsense, she told Chukovskaya. Far from being a sacrificial victim, Boris Leonidovich had been extraordinarily lucky. His temperament had ensured that he always enjoyed himself in any circumstances whatever. Almost all his writings achieved publication in the Soviet Union or abroad, and the rest had been eagerly passed from hand to hand in manuscript. Pasternak had always had money; Akhmatova had long been desperately poor. Neither of Pasternak’s sons had ever been arrested; Akhmatova’s son had served long terms in labour camps. One had only to compare Pasternak’s fate with Mandelstam’s and Tsvetayeva’s to see how fortunate he had been. And Chukovskaya could not help reflecting that Pasternak’s sufferings over the Nobel Prize affair had been a mere ‘butterflies’ duel’ in comparison with the persecution of Akhmatova and of Zoshchenko from 1946 onwards.”

—-

     The “Nobel Prize affair” mentioned in the marked paragraph is in reference to Pasternak receiving the prize in 1958, and his subsequent threatening by the Soviet government to the point that he was forced to renounce the prize.

     As Markson puts it in Vanishing Point on pg. 87:
     “A reactionary bourgeois award, Pravda called Pasternak’s Nobel Prize.
     Which he was forced to decline.”

     And yet, Ahkmatova is right.
     Sure, Pasternak didn’t necessarily have it easy—no one would say having to renounce one of the most prestigious awards in the world is easy—but compared to most other Russian writers of the time period, it’s tough to see him as “a martyr to persecution.”

     “The myriad Anna Akhmatova poems, written over decades, which she or friends were forced to immediately memorize.
     Because under Soviet rule she was afraid to put them on paper.”
     Markson explains on pg. 152 of Vanishing Point.

     On pg. 26 of the same book:
     “The fact that Isaac Babel was executed in a Moscow prison cellar.
     The strong possibility that the manuscript of a novel confiscated at his arrest still exists in Stalin-era files.”

     Also in Vanishing Point, on pg. 60, Markson makes mention of “the first time Osip Mandelstam was arrested by Soviet authorities.”
     The operative word, of course, being first.

     “Osip Mandelstam once wrote a poem criticizing Stalin.
     And died in a Gulag.”
     Markson quite succinctly put it in This Is Not A Novel on pg. 28.

     Also in that book, on pg. 55:
     “In his mid-twenties, Joseph Brodsky was sentenced to five years shoveling manure at the White Sea for what the Soviet Union saw as social parasitism.”

     And on pg. 85 of same:
     “Meyerhold was executed by the Soviets.”

     Pg. 10 of This Is Not A Novel also questions the death of Gorky:
     “Maxim Gorky died of tuberculosis.
     Or was he ordered murdered by Stalin?”

     “Imperialist bourgeois and decadent counterrevolutionary tendencies.
     Both Shostakovich and Prokofiev were accused of at one time or another by Soviet authorities.”
     Markson writes in The Last Novel, on pg. 19.

     “Through much of her life, Marina Tsvetayeva was forced to endure practically a beggar’s existence. And with her nearest relatives repeatedly imprisoned.
     Akhmatova fared little better, confronted by the same family jailings, often subsisting for long periods on little more than black bread.”
     Wrote Markson on pg. 53 of Reader’s Block.

    A few pages before that, on 51, a mention of Mandelstam in the Soviet camps:
    “Convinced he was being poisoned, Osip Mandelstam may have sometimes stolen food from other inmates in his Soviet prison camp. And been beaten for it. At the end he survived on scraps from a garbage heap.”

     “D. S. Mirsky died in Siberia in one of Stalin’s purges.”
     Markson wrote in Reader’s Block on pg. 59.

     On pg. 91 of the same book:
     “Irina Ratushinskaya. At twenty-eight, as late as in 1982, sentenced to seven years in the strictest of Russian prison camps.
     For writing verse deemed unsuitable to the state.”

     A few pages later on 105:
     “Hayim Lenski died of starvation in a Soviet labor camp. Sent there for having written poems in Hebrew.”

     Further on in Reader’s Block on pg. 151:
     “Isaac Babel disappeared in one of Stalin’s purges. Nothing whatsoever is known about his death.
     Conversely, orders allegedly given by Stalin in regard to Pasternak: Don’t touch the cloud-dweller.”

     “Cloud-dweller.”
     Possibly a reference to Pasternak’s poetry collection Twin in the Clouds.
     In addition, obviously, to the “head in the clouds” lyrical romantic poet implication.

     The cloud-dweller “a martyr to persecution”?

     I think I’d go with Ahkmatova on this one:
     Stuff and nonsense.

     Pg. 252 of David Markson’s copy of Eating of the Gods by Jan Kott:
     On which Markson has placed a line in the margin next to a paragraph about Electra.
—
     “Electra is a king’s daughter, deprived of all the privileges of her birth and station.”     So the paragraph that Markson marked in the margins in the above scan begins…
     Electra…
     Markson lists her in his list of archetypal women that constitutes chapter 23 of part 2 of Springer’s Progress.
     In Wittgenstein’s Mistress, Markson has Kate say:     “Poor Electra. To wish to murder one’s own mother.” (Pg. 25)
     “Electra has been placed in an enforced situation, having to make the fundamental choice between total acceptance and total refusal; acceptance of her fate, or refusal to accept it; acceptance of a world in which her mother has murdered her father, or rejection of that world with all the consequences of such a decision.”     From the above scan.
     Electra.
     Poor Electra. To wish to murder one’s own mother.
     On pgs. 197-198 of Wittgenstein’s Mistress:     “Daddy murdered our sister to raise wind for his silly ships, being what any person in her right mind must surely imagine that Electra and Orestes would have thought.     Mommy murdered our daddy, being all that they think in the play instead.     Moreover in this case there are plays by Aeschylus and Sophocles as well, even before Euripides.     Nonetheless one is still categorically forced to believe that Electra and Orestes would have never felt that way in the least.     In fact what I have more than once suspected is that the whole story about the two of them taking their own revenge on Clytemnestra was another lie altogether. More than likely all three of them together would have felt nothing except good riddance.     Or certainly once the bathroom had been cleaned up.     And then lived happily ever after, even.”
     “Electra, in blue jeans.     Which is not from a Yannis Ritsos poem.”     - Markson, Vanishing Point, pg. 71.
     “As a matter of fact what I would now be perfectly willing to wager is not only that Clytemnestra and Electra and Orestes lived happily together ever after, but that Cassandra eventually even came to be thought of as one of the family herself.     Moreover I can even further imagine all four of them happily traipsing off now and again to visit Helen, once all of this had been settled.”     - Markson, Wittgenstein’s Mistress, pgs. 198-199.

     Pg. 252 of David Markson’s copy of Eating of the Gods by Jan Kott:

     On which Markson has placed a line in the margin next to a paragraph about Electra.

     “Electra is a king’s daughter, deprived of all the privileges of her birth and station.”
     So the paragraph that Markson marked in the margins in the above scan begins…

     Electra…

     Markson lists her in his list of archetypal women that constitutes chapter 23 of part 2 of Springer’s Progress.

     In Wittgenstein’s Mistress, Markson has Kate say:
     “Poor Electra. To wish to murder one’s own mother.” (Pg. 25)

     “Electra has been placed in an enforced situation, having to make the fundamental choice between total acceptance and total refusal; acceptance of her fate, or refusal to accept it; acceptance of a world in which her mother has murdered her father, or rejection of that world with all the consequences of such a decision.”
     From the above scan.

     Electra.

     Poor Electra. To wish to murder one’s own mother.

     On pgs. 197-198 of Wittgenstein’s Mistress:
     “Daddy murdered our sister to raise wind for his silly ships, being what any person in her right mind must surely imagine that Electra and Orestes would have thought.
     Mommy murdered our daddy, being all that they think in the play instead.
     Moreover in this case there are plays by Aeschylus and Sophocles as well, even before Euripides.
     Nonetheless one is still categorically forced to believe that Electra and Orestes would have never felt that way in the least.
     In fact what I have more than once suspected is that the whole story about the two of them taking their own revenge on Clytemnestra was another lie altogether. More than likely all three of them together would have felt nothing except good riddance.
     Or certainly once the bathroom had been cleaned up.
     And then lived happily ever after, even.”

     “Electra, in blue jeans.
     Which is not from a Yannis Ritsos poem.”
     - Markson, Vanishing Point, pg. 71.

     “As a matter of fact what I would now be perfectly willing to wager is not only that Clytemnestra and Electra and Orestes lived happily together ever after, but that Cassandra eventually even came to be thought of as one of the family herself.
     Moreover I can even further imagine all four of them happily traipsing off now and again to visit Helen, once all of this had been settled.”
     - Markson, Wittgenstein’s Mistress, pgs. 198-199.

     Pg. 131 of David Markson’s copy of I, Michelangelo, Sculptor by Michelangelo:
     On which Markson wrote in the margins next to a mention in a letter of “Sebastiano”:     “(Sebastian del Piombo)”
—
     Sebastian del Piombo is mentioned in one of Markson’s books—also, no surprise, in relation to Michelangelo.
     On pg. 80 of Vanishing Point:     “Pope Leo X, to Sebastiano del Piombo, as to why he was holding off on commissions for Michelangelo:     There is absolutely no getting on with the man.”
     From pg. 192 of Wittgenstein’s Mistress:     “Certainly I would have found it more than agreeable to shake Michelangelo’s hand, no matter how the pope or Louis Pasteur might have felt about this.     In fact I would have been excited just to see the hand that had taken away superfluous material in the way that Michelangelo had taken it away.     Actually, I would have been pleased to tell Michelangelo how fond I am of his sentence that I once underlined, too.     Perhaps I have not mentioned having once underlined a sentence by Michelangelo.     I once underlined a sentence by Michelangelo.     This was a sentence that Michelangelo once wrote in a letter, when he had lived almost seventy-five years.     You will say that I am old and mad, was what Michelangelo wrote, but I answer that there is no better way of being sane and free from anxiety than by being mad.     On my honor, Michelangelo once wrote that.     As a matter of fact I am next to positive I would have liked Michelangelo.”
     There is absolutely no getting on with the man.

     Pg. 131 of David Markson’s copy of I, Michelangelo, Sculptor by Michelangelo:

     On which Markson wrote in the margins next to a mention in a letter of “Sebastiano”:
     “(Sebastian del Piombo)”

     Sebastian del Piombo is mentioned in one of Markson’s books—also, no surprise, in relation to Michelangelo.

     On pg. 80 of Vanishing Point:
     “Pope Leo X, to Sebastiano del Piombo, as to why he was holding off on commissions for Michelangelo:
     There is absolutely no getting on with the man.”

     From pg. 192 of Wittgenstein’s Mistress:
     “Certainly I would have found it more than agreeable to shake Michelangelo’s hand, no matter how the pope or Louis Pasteur might have felt about this.
     In fact I would have been excited just to see the hand that had taken away superfluous material in the way that Michelangelo had taken it away.
     Actually, I would have been pleased to tell Michelangelo how fond I am of his sentence that I once underlined, too.
     Perhaps I have not mentioned having once underlined a sentence by Michelangelo.
     I once underlined a sentence by Michelangelo.
     This was a sentence that Michelangelo once wrote in a letter, when he had lived almost seventy-five years.
     You will say that I am old and mad, was what Michelangelo wrote, but I answer that there is no better way of being sane and free from anxiety than by being mad.
     On my honor, Michelangelo once wrote that.
     As a matter of fact I am next to positive I would have liked Michelangelo.”

     There is absolutely no getting on with the man.

     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. 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. 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.


     Pg. 106 of David Markson’s copy of A Homemade World: The American Modernist Writers by Hugh Kenner:
     On which Kenner claims re: Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams:     “She and a frantically busy physician who kept a typewriter screwed to a hinged leaf of his consulting-room desk, to be banged up into typing position between patients: not ‘poets,’ not professionals of the word, save for their passion: they were the inventors of an American poetry. The fact is instructive.”     Next to which Markson places some lines and replies:     “Not if your poetry is not very good—which theirs isn’t.”
—
     Surprisingly, even though they are both mentioned in his last four novels often enough, Markson was apparently not very fond of the poetry of two of the biggest Modernist poets:      Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams.
     When Markson criticizes authors in the margins, such as in this instance, or the constant barrage in the margins of his DeLillo novels, I think of something he said in his KCRW interview about what most of the little “intellectual odds-and-ends” are in his tetralogy:     “Most frequently it’s despairs and defeats, or sometimes even rotten reviews, and sometimes even from their peers (who should be kinder).”
     “Not if your poetry is not very good—which theirs isn’t.”
     Should Markson have been kinder in the margins of his books?
     Eh, I prefer knowing his honest opinion…
—
     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. 106 of David Markson’s copy of A Homemade World: The American Modernist Writers by Hugh Kenner:

     On which Kenner claims re: Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams:
     “She and a frantically busy physician who kept a typewriter screwed to a hinged leaf of his consulting-room desk, to be banged up into typing position between patients: not ‘poets,’ not professionals of the word, save for their passion: they were the inventors of an American poetry. The fact is instructive.”
     Next to which Markson places some lines and replies:
     “Not if your poetry is not very good—which theirs isn’t.”

     Surprisingly, even though they are both mentioned in his last four novels often enough, Markson was apparently not very fond of the poetry of two of the biggest Modernist poets:
     Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams.

     When Markson criticizes authors in the margins, such as in this instance, or the constant barrage in the margins of his DeLillo novels, I think of something he said in his KCRW interview about what most of the little “intellectual odds-and-ends” are in his tetralogy:
     “Most frequently it’s despairs and defeats, or sometimes even rotten reviews, and sometimes even from their peers (who should be kinder).”

     “Not if your poetry is not very good—which theirs isn’t.”

     Should Markson have been kinder in the margins of his books?

     Eh, I prefer knowing his honest opinion…

     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.