Download PDF by Marshall Boswell, Stephen J. Burn: A Companion to David Foster Wallace Studies

By Marshall Boswell, Stephen J. Burn

Feedback of the paintings of David Foster Wallace has tended to be atomistic, concentrating on a unmarried point of person works. A spouse to the paintings of David Foster Wallace is designed as a qualified examine of all of Wallace's inventive paintings. With essays written through either most sensible students within the box and fascinating beginners, the quantity is anchored by way of a suite of essays that offer certain readings of every of his significant works of fiction, together with 3 novels and 3 tale collections. Interwoven via those half-dozen single-text reviews are thematic-based essays that handle greater segments of Wallace's success through an eclectic variety of serious environments, together with arithmetic, the spatial flip in modern feedback, gender thought, the legacy of yankee Pragmatism, and the emergent box of post-postmodern literary reports.

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Additional resources for A Companion to David Foster Wallace Studies

Sample text

What Wallace does with figurative ALMOST A NOVEL 19 language in The Broom of the System and throughout his writing—in effect, bending and breaking the rules implicit in the construction of figures of speech—further suggests how he views language itself as both limit and opportunity. In the passage above, recalling that the reader is asked to imagine the scene of her great-grandmother’s demise along with Lenore, the simile of “lying flat as a wet Saltine on some highway with a tire track in her forehead and her walker now a sort of large trivet” is a figurative mash-up that takes the generic “squashed flat as a pancake,” exchanges it for a real-world commodity recognizable to contemporary readers (a wet “Saltine” cracker), and tentatively conflates it with an entirely dissociated old-fashioned object usually placed beneath a hot serving dish to protect the table upon which it sits from the heat (“a sort of large trivet”).

Bakhtin’s understanding of the workings of language centered on the concept of voice. More specifically, thinking about voice enabled him to distinguish between a “monologic” understanding of language, which, he said, pretended that the context of an exchange of words was unimportant, as if each utterance was “the word of no one in particular” (“Discourse” 276), and what he called a “dialogic” account. To think of language as “dialogic” is to recognize two factors: first, that there is no neutral point of view—“all words,” Bakhtin said, “have the ‘taste’ of a profession, a genre, a tendency, a party, a particular work, a particular person, a generation, an age group, the day and hour” (“Discourse” 293)—and second, that the “expression of an utterance” is always a response, expressing “the speaker’s attitude toward others’ utterances” (“The Problem” 92), toward “someone else’s speech ” (Problems 185).

In the language of his fiction, Wallace is most concerned with bringing the reader in on what might be termed the “inconclusivity” of language in its tendency to always “imagine” that there is more than it can possibly reference. What might have been skepticism or despair in the face of the recognized limits of language, caught up in its own self-recognitions regarding linguistic agency and performative capacities, becomes in Wallace’s hands a narrative invitation to the reader to join “him” (that is, the narrator of the novel, or its many narrators) in engaging with an empathetic and (always) incomplete project of inculcating personality in the language of fiction.

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