The Legacy of David Foster Wallace

The Legacy of David Foster Wallace

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by Samuel Cohen
     
 

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 Considered by many to be the greatest writer of his generation, David Foster Wallace was at the height of his creative powers when he committed suicide in 2008. In a sweeping portrait of Wallace’s writing and thought and as a measure of his importance in literary history, The Legacy of David Foster Wallace gathers cutting-edge, field-defining

Overview

 Considered by many to be the greatest writer of his generation, David Foster Wallace was at the height of his creative powers when he committed suicide in 2008. In a sweeping portrait of Wallace’s writing and thought and as a measure of his importance in literary history, The Legacy of David Foster Wallace gathers cutting-edge, field-defining scholarship by critics alongside remembrances by many of his writer friends, who include some of the world’s most influential authors.

In this elegant volume, literary critics scrutinize the existing Wallace scholarship and at the same time pioneer new ways of understanding Wallace’s fiction and journalism. In critical essays exploring a variety of topics—including Wallace’s relationship to American literary history, his place in literary journalism, his complicated relationship to his postmodernist predecessors, the formal difficulties of his 1996 magnum opus Infinite Jest, his environmental imagination, and the “social life” of his fiction and nonfiction—contributors plumb sources as diverse as Amazon.com reader recommendations, professional book reviews, the 2009 Infinite Summer project, and the David Foster Wallace archive at the University of Texas’s Harry Ransom Center. The creative writers—including Don DeLillo, Jonathan Franzen, George Saunders, Rick Moody, Dave Eggers, and David Lipsky, and Wallace’s Little, Brown editor, Michael Pietsch—reflect on the person behind the volumes of fiction and nonfiction created during the author’s too-short life. All of the essays, critical and creative alike, are written in an accessible style that does not presume any background in Wallace criticism. Whether the reader is an expert in all things David Foster Wallace, a casual fan of his fiction and nonfiction, or completely new to Wallace, The Legacy of David Foster Wallace will reveal the power and innovation that defined his contribution to literary life and to self-understanding. This illuminating volume is destined to shape our understanding of Wallace, his writing, and his place in history.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The Legacy of David Foster Wallace is a necessary book—it will find a place in virtually every university and college library across the land. Surely it will be among the first critical works consulted by any scholar or student venturing into the work of Wallace and will interest the more ordinary, if unusually ambitious, reader as well.”—Mark McGurl, author, The Program Era

“This is a collection whose character is faithful to the spirit of Wallace's work: considerate, intelligent, funny, even self-deprecating—an excellent addition to both the fan’s and the critic’s library.”—Lydia Millet, Pulitzer Prize finalist for Love in Infant Monkeys

Kirkus Reviews
A potpourri of a literary collection--from exegeses to eulogies--all in memory and honor of Wallace (1962–2008). Cohen (English/Univ. of Missouri; After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s, 2009) and Konstantinou (English/Princeton Univ.; Pop Apocalypse: A Possible Satire, 2009) collect scholarly essays about Wallace's work, interviews with Wallace and others, tributes delivered at Wallace's memorial service by friends and fellow writers and an essay from a literary curator about the Wallace collection at the University of Texas. Their decision to alternate scholarly pieces with personal ones was risky and causes a serious problem for the scholars. When an earnest essay dense with critical jargon ("an attempt at a Hegelian sublation of metafiction into metafiction critical of its own impulses") appears after a moving piece by Rick Moody, the scholarly piece suffers. Over and over again, scholars weigh in and are followed by Don DeLillo, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Franzen (whose tribute will bring tears to the eyes of nearly all readers) and others. Ending the volume with an essay about cataloging Wallace's papers seems an odd choice in such a collection. The editors have fleet literary athletes ready to run the anchor lap, and instead choose someone who writes about categorizing types of track shoes. This is not to disparage that essay--it's of real interest--but why at the end? The eyes of general readers will glaze reading the lit-crit, blaze (and redden) reading the writers' eulogies.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781609381042
Publisher:
University of Iowa Press
Publication date:
04/15/2012
Series:
New American Canon
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
244
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Samuel Cohen is an associate professor and the director of graduate studies in the University of Missouri’s Department of English. He is author of the Choice Outstanding Academic selection After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s (Iowa, 2009) and author of two textbooks, 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology and Literature: The Human Experience (with Richard Abcarian and Marvin Klotz). He is currently at work on a book project, What Comes Next: Recent American Fiction and the Question of Canon Formation. Lee Konstantinou is an ACLS New Faculty Fellow in the English Department at Princeton University. He has published a novel, Pop Apocalypse: A Possible Satire, and he is completing a literary history of irony after World War II. His writing has appeared in the Believer, boundary 2, io9, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

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The Legacy of David Foster Wallace 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I great blend of remembrances and interpretations of Wallace's life in letters. Many essays focus on Infinite Jest.