William Gaddis: A Frolic of His Own

(436 words)
  • Peter Dempsey (University of Sunderland)

In a similar fashion to J R, Gaddis's last novel published in his lifetime, A Frolic of His Own (1994) announces its theme with its first word, but then develops it in the rest of its first line: “Justice? – you get justice in the next world, in this world, you have the law”. The novel follows a series of litigations through the courts and it is the discrepancy between the ideal of justice and the reality of the law that is Gaddis's subject. For Gaddis, the theory of justice is a beautiful, ordered system we have constructed to ward off or minimise the chaos and contingency of existence. The practice of law however, is for him “a carnival of disorder”, a self-sustaining system of legalese and a conspiracy against …

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Dempsey, Peter. "A Frolic of His Own". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 December 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=7126, accessed 26 September 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. Postmodernist American Fiction