Cartesian Sonata, published in 1998, brought together four interrelated novellas that explore good and evil, action and thought, redemption and possession, starting with “The Clairvoyant,” first published as a short story in 1964. Thematic similarities and direct references to past (and future) works are present in Cartesian Sonata, but here Gass is most focused on the correlation between the physical and immaterial.

As with The Tunnel, another book that spanned around three decades from conception to publication, the William Gass Papers contain early, correscted typescripts from the 1960s and refined printouts from the 1990s.