Joe Gould's Secret History

The Diary of a Legendary Village Bohemian Surfaces at NYU

The notebooks taper off in the spring of 1947. Six months later, his subsidy dried up. To this day, the identity of his patron remains a mystery. cummings, who occasionally spoke of Gould in his letters to Ezra Pound, cryptically noted in 1948 that "I've been seeing a lot of Joe G lately & wondered why;parait que his erstwhile refugee-backess decided she'd put her dollars on the foreign poor,pour changer perhaps:or maybe Gould got fresh?"

Joe wandered the streets until 1952, when he was committed to Pilgrim State Hospital. His death and subsequent funeral were memorably reported in the Voice on August 28, 1957.

According to writer Dan Balaban, none of Gould's well-heeled friends attended—no Mitchell, cummings, or William Saroyan. But representatives from NBC, CBS, and the print media mobbed the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Church. The mourners were a cross section of neighborhood characters (Princess Wa-Wachaw, Gould's cousin Lawrence Woodman) and, if you can imagine, the Lions Club of Greater Greenwich Village. The good burghers among the Lions even dreamed up a grandiloquent touch worthy of the deceased. They announced the establishment of a Joseph Ferdinand Gould Scholarship Fund to NYU, with an initial bequest of $100 (no trace of the fund exists today). Why they didn't just spring for a headstone is anyone's guess; today, some 40 years later, the grave at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, Westchester County, remains unmarked. His surviving literary corpus provides no epitaph either.

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