• “Then Out of the Rubble”: The Apocalypse in David Foster Wallace’s Early Fiction

    Bradley J. Fest, Bradley J. Fest (see profile)
    CLCS 20th- and 21st-Century, LLC 20th- and 21st-Century American
    Wallace, David Foster, Postmodernism, Postmodernism (Literature), Fiction, Irony in literature, Apocalypse in literature
    Item Type:
    Broom of the System, Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way
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    Excerpt from first paragraph: In the emerging field of David Foster Wallace studies, nothing has been more widely cited in terms of understanding Wallace’s literary project than two texts that appeared in the 1993 issue of The Review of Contemporary Fiction. “E Unibus Pluram: Television and US Fiction” and a lengthy interview with Larry McCaffery have been significant landmarks for critics of his work in much the same way that T. S. Eliot’s “Tradition and the Individual Talent” or Henry James’s “The Art of Fiction” were for critics of those writers. Following Wallace’s argument in “E Unibus Pluram,” that the “postmodern irony” of such writers like Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo had infected United States culture at all levels, and especially the medium of television, much of the conversation regarding his fiction has revolved around irony and his sense of being a latecomer in relation to his postmodern forebears. Criticism approaching his work through the lens of “E Unibus Pluram” has been so prevalent that, one might be permitted to suggest, a “standard” reading of his fiction has emerged. Much of this criticism has been quite impressive, and the recent groundswell of work being done on Wallace since his untimely death in 2008 is in the process of forging new paths for understanding his contribution to American letters.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    9 months ago


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