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Wallace’s postmodern context

The other essential piece of context for understanding Wallace is postmodernism. Postmodernism means many things but there are two main aspects of it to grasp to understand Wallace. First, Wallace …

‘Consider the Lobster’ text

Consider the Lobster, by David Foster Wallace Gourmet Magazine, Originally Published August 2004 http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/2000s/2004/08/consider_the_lobster For 56 years, the Maine Lobster Festival has been drawing crowds with the promise of sun, …

Hal and Hamlet

Hal and Hamlet: literary intertextuality The parallels between the novel and Hamlet are numerous (for example Poor Yorick is the name of Hal’s father’s film company; Hal has a dead …

Irony and the self

Irony and the Self: philosophical intertextuality Kierkegaard described the irony he was interested in as a ‘qualification of subjectivity’ (in contrast to, say, verbal games or dramatic irony). Irony in …

Kierkegaard and irony

Kierkegaard on irony Kierkegaard finds in Socrates two types of irony corresponding to two types of dialectic. The first type of irony is a stimulus to thought, corresponding to dialectic …

Hal excerpt

Hal is here lying down in the tennis academy TV room. Stice is another student at the tennis academy. ‘Himself’ is Hal’s father. It now lately sometimes seemed like a …

Some thoughts on the recovery extract

What are the connections to freedom raised in the previous extract? Freedom here involves placing your trust in the viability of following rules, which are proven to work contrary to …

Don Gately reflects on recovery

In this extract, the narrator explores the process of rehabilitation from addiction through the eyes of Don Gately, one of the novel‘s primary characters. Don Gately is a former thief …

Next steps

If you have enjoyed Wallace and want to explore further, here are our suggestions for the best places to start. If you want to read Wallace’s own work, his magnum …

Marathe and Steeply discuss freedom

Marathe and Steeply extract In this extract, Marathe, a member of a Québecois separatist group, the A.F.R. (who are wheelchair assassins), converses with an American FBI agent, Hugh Steeply (who …

Four comments on ‘Octet’

Genre ‘Octet’ has no defined genre. At the start of ‘Pop Quiz 9’ Wallace says he intends it to be a ‘cycle’ of ‘belletristic pieces’ (that is, an artistic piece …

Discussion questions on ‘This is Water’

In the next step, you’ll read the commencement address Wallace gave at Kenyon College in 2005. Think about the following questions as you read ‘This is Water’. How does Foster …

Octet

[NB The original story has long footnotes that cover multiple pages but this is confusing to read in a single scrolling article. We have therefore italicised the footnotes to make …

Watch the introduction to Week 6

When considering the place of the author in contemporary society, we could posit a spectrum between metafiction on the one hand, with its self-reflexivity and playfulness and the consequent impossibility …