William Gaddis

William Thomas Gaddis ( born December 29, 1922 in New York City; † December 16, 1998 in East Hampton, NY ) was an American writer.


Gaddis is one of the most important American writers of the 20th century. His success but appeared only late. After high school graduation he began in 1941 a study of literature at Harvard University, but he had to leave because of bad behavior after four years. He worked for the New Yorker magazine and later as a documentary filmmaker for the U.S. Army.

In 1955 he published his first, more than a thousand -page novel, The Recognitions (Eng. The falsification of the world). As a source of inspiration for him was the art forger Han van Meegeren. The Recognitions was panned by critics and largely spurned by the audience, but developed around the novel a small religious community.

Only in 1975 he published his second novel, JR, in which an eleven year old boy builds a multibillion dollar financial empire. The villain, played by Larry Hagman in the TV series Dallas was named after him. For JR Gaddis received a 1976 first National Book Award; a second was awarded to him for his fourth novel, A Frolic of his own, who the American judicial system for object 1994.

Rather a longer essay - - Postum the " novel" are Agapé Agape in 2002 and published an anthology with other texts.

Honors and Awards


  • The Recognitions. Harcourt Brace, New York 1955 German: The falsification of the world. Zweitausendeins, Frankfurt am Main 1998
  • German: JR. Zweitausendeins, Frankfurt am Main 1996, new edition: Translated by Markus Ingendaay; German publishing house, Munich 2010 ISBN 978-3-421-04491-4
  • German: The Redeemer. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1988
  • German: Last instance. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1996
  • German: The mechanical piano. Goldmann, Munich 2003
  • Special edition in one volume: Agapé Agape and Other Writings. Atlantic, London 2004


  • Last minute panic. First broadcast: Germany Radio, March 13, 1999