In David Foster Wallace’s fiction, long-standing philosophical debates – does language describe the world accurately? can I explain myself to others? what are the values and dangers of self-consciousness? how can I lead a meaningful life? – play a central role. In fact the need to explore these debates as representing urgent problems of contemporary human existence is what motivated Wallace’s ‘occupational switch’ from philosophy to literature.
This volume presents new essays by prominent and promising Wallace scholars that show that Wallace’s work originates in-between philosophy and literature. Its philosophical dimension is not a mere supplement or decoration, a finishing touch to perfect his literary writing; nor is it the other way around: a pre-established truth the literary serves to illustrate. Rather in Wallace the two discursive modes are always already intertwined in a never-ending process of cross-fertilization. This approach constitutes an investigative perspective that allows for a variety of theories and methods to shed light on the constitutive in-betweenness of Wallace’s oeuvre – instead of imposing a preconceived methodology or a theoretical context that univocally homogenizes each single reading. The essays included offer a plurality of interpretations of Wallace’s engagement with philosophy and literature.
Organized in three parts – ‘General perspectives’, ‘Consciousness, self, and others’, and ‘Embodiment, gender, and sexuality’ – this volume breaks new ground: it shows that Wallace’s texts, characters, story-worlds, linguistic and formal choices, plots and concepts are all to be read ‘between’ philosophy and literature, and thus provides a highly valuable contribution to the field of Wallace studies.
focus on the problem of influence; rather, the focal point will be the content of the alliance and how it illuminates certain aspects of Wallace's thought in relation to the cultural discourse of our time. We already know something of the connection between The Culture of Narcissism and Wallace. We have at the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) Wallace's annotated copy of Lasch's book, to which Hering briefly refers in David Foster Wallace: Fiction and Form ( 2016 ). And we have Holland's ‘The Art's Heart's Purpose’ ( 2013 ), which demonstrates ‘a
)producing the swoon as ironic cliché. If, as I suggested in the introduction to this work, swooning can be thought of as paradigmatically literary phenomenon, is this online invocation of *swoon* paradigmatic of something changing – of a new, ironic way to verb in the world of online action? The irony of the online *swoon*, puts me in mind of David Foster Wallace's critique in ‘ E Unibus Pluram ’ 7 of the ironic literary mode he saw in the work of many of his contemporaries. Foster Wallace, in an excoriating description of what he
One of his recent stories ends in the finality of this half sentence: Not another word. But there is always another word. There is always another reader to regenerate these words. Don DeLillo ‘Informal Remarks from the David Foster Wallace Memorial Service in New York on 23 October 2008’ You think that because you understand ‘one’ that you must understand ‘two
, which will teach us at last to understand our own. Ludwig Wittgenstein , Culture and Value This is what I see. Can you see it too? Toril Moi , ‘The Adventure of Reading’ This collection aims to show that David Foster Wallace's work originates from and functions in the space
One of the most recurrent topics in David Foster Wallace's oeuvre is pornography. This issue emerges again and again in both his fiction and non-fiction writings. 1 Pornography is also mentioned by Wallace in several personal notebooks and drafts kept at the Harry Ransom Center (HRC); these archival documents include notes, projects, and ideas for essays, novels, and stories. Finally Wallace lingered extensively on this topic in the interviews with Schecter (1989), Lipsky (1996), and Borrelli
communication staged throughout the novel – most importantly that of its principal ghost-auteur, JOI. David Foster Wallace, like Hal, ‘transcends the mechanics’ (12). Although he is not a body to which the reader can refer, the author is nevertheless ‘in here’ – yet, like Hal in the opening sequence, unable to respond directly to his interrogator, the reader. Wallace, in the opening of the novel, can only communicate with the reader through Hal. Hal and Wallace alike must therefore ‘trust Uncle Charles’ (17) – and the name of Hal's uncle, who speaks for him during the scene
This chapter offers a comparative reading of David Foster Wallace's short story ‘The Depressed Person’ (1998/ 1999 ) and Fyodor Dostoevsky's novella Notes from Underground (1864) partly based on materials from the Wallace archive. Wallace expressed his admiration of Dostoevsky at length in his 1996 review of Joseph Frank's biography of the Russian novelist ( 2005 ). From this review we can identify two main aspects of Dostoevsky's work that Wallace admired and took as inspiration for his own: namely, Dostoevsky's cultural critique and his
Adam , C. and P. Tannery . eds. ( 1897–1913 ). Oeuvres de Descartes . Paris : Cerf . Boswell , M. ( 2013 ). ‘ “The Constant Monologue Inside Your Head”: Oblivion and the Nightmare of Consciousness ’, 151–70 . In Stephen J. Burn and Marshall Boswell , eds, A Companion to David Foster Wallace Studies. New York NY
It might seem an understatement to say that David Foster Wallace's work has ‘something to do with love’ (McCaffery, 2012 : 50). In his interview with McCaffery in 1993 Wallace placed love at the centre of his aesthetic mission, claiming that true art is about ‘having the discipline to talk out of the part of yourself that can love instead of the part that just wants to be loved’ (148). In Wallace's writing and his political and social philosophy, love is irrevocably bound up with the problem of communication, with, as Clare Hayes-Brady argues