Understanding David Foster Wallace

Marshall Boswell

208 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 1570035172


Language: English

Publish: 1041408000000


In Understanding David Foster Wallace, Marshall Boswell examines the four major works of fiction Wallace has published thus the novels The Broom of the System and Infinite Jest and the story collections Girl with Curious Hair and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. In his readings of these works, Boswell affirms that Wallace, though still young, compels our attention not only for the singular excellence of his work but, perhaps more important, for his groundbreaking effort to chart a fruitful and affirmative new direction for the literary novel at a time of bleak prospects. In addition to providing self-contained readings of each text, Boswell places Wallace within a trajectory of literary innovation that begins with James Joyce and continues through Wallace’s most important postmodern forebears, John Barth and Thomas Pynchon. Although Wallace is sometimes labeled a postmodern writer, Boswell argues that he should be regarded as the nervous leader of some still unnamed–and perhaps unnameable–third wave of modernism. Boswell contends that in charting an innovative course for literary practice, Wallace does not seek merely to overturn postmodernism, nor simply to return to modernism. Instead he moves resolutely forward as his writing hoists the baggage of modernism and postmodernism heavily, but respectfully, on its back.

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