Archive for August 23rd, 2011

August 23, 2011

David Foster Wallace

dfw by andrew barr

David Foster Wallace (1962 – 2008) was an American author of novels, essays, and short stories, and a professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He was widely known for his 1996 novel ‘Infinite Jest.’ In 1997, Wallace received a MacArthur Fellowship. He was born in Ithaca, New York. His father teaches philosophy at the University of Illinois and his mother teaches English at a community college in Champaign. In fourth grade, he moved to Urbana, Illinois. As an adolescent, he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player.

He attended his father’s alma mater, Amherst College, and majored in English and philosophy, with a focus on modal logic and mathematics. His philosophy senior thesis on modal logic, titled ‘Richard Taylor’s ‘Fatalism’ and the Semantics of Physical Modality’ was awarded the Gail Kennedy Memorial Prize by Amherst. His other senior thesis, in English, would later become his first novel, ‘The Broom of the System,’ which centers on an emotionally challenged, 24-year-old telephone switchboard operator who has issues about whether or not she’s real.

read more »

August 23, 2011

Infinite Jest


Infinite Jest is a 1996 novel by David Foster Wallace that presents a dystopian vision of North America in the near future. The intricate narrative treats elements as diverse as junior tennis, substance abuse and recovery programs, depression, child abuse, family relationships, advertising and popular entertainment, film theory, and Quebec separatism. The novel includes copious endnotes which explain or expound upon points in the story.

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Wallace characterized their use as a method of disrupting the linearity of the text while maintaining some sense of narrative cohesion. The novel’s title is from ‘Hamlet,’ who holds the skull of the court jester, Yorick, and says ‘Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is!’

read more »