Gesturing Toward Reality: David Foster Wallace and Philosophy

Author(s): Robert K. Bolger

Culture & Ideas

Asked in 2006 about the philosophical nature of his fiction, the late American writer David Foster Wallace replied, "If some people read my fiction and see it as fundamentally about philosophical ideas, what it probably means is that these are pieces where the characters are not as alive and interesting as I meant them to be." Gesturing Toward Reality looks into this quality of Wallace's work-when the writer dons the philosopher's cap-and sees something else. With essays offering a careful perusal of Wallace's extensive and heavily annotated self-help library, re-considerations of Wittgenstein's influence on his fiction, and serious explorations into the moral and spiritual landscape where Wallace lived and wrote, this collection offers a perspective on Wallace that even he was not always ready to see. Since so much has been said in specifically literary circles about Wallace's philosophical acumen, it seems natural to have those with an interest in both philosophy and Wallace's writing address how these two areas come together.


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An accessible introduction to the many intersections between the work of David Foster Wallace and the world of philosophical inquiry.

Robert K. Bolger (Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University, USA) is the author of Kneeling at the Altar of Science: The Mistaken Path of Contemporary Religious Scientism. Scott Korb teaches writing at New York University, the New School, and in Pacific University's MFA program (all USA). His books include The Faith Between Us, Life in Year One, and Light without Fire.

Acknowledgements Notes on Contributors Introduction Scott Korb Chapter One. How We Ought To Do Things With Words Alexis Burgess Chapter Two. The Subsurface Unity of All Things, Or David Foster Wallace's Free Will Leland de la Durantaye Chapter Three. A Less 'Bullshitty' Way To Live: The Pragmatic Spirituality of David Foster Wallace Robert K. Bolger Chapter Four. This is Water and Religious Self-Deception Kevin Timpe Chapter Five. Inside David Foster Wallace's Head: Attention, Loneliness, Suicide and the Other Side of Boredom Andrew Bennett Chapter Six. The Lobster Considered Robert C. Jones Chapter Seven. The Terrible Master: David Foster Wallace and the Suffering of Consciousness (with Guest Arthur Schopenhauer) Blakey Vermeule Chapter Eight. Philosophy, Self-Help and the Death of David Wallace Maria Bustillos Chapter Nine. Untrendy Problems: The Pale King's Philosophical Inspirations Jon Baskin Chapter Ten. The Formative Philosophical Influences of David Foster Wallace With Special Reference to The Broom of the System Tom Tracey Chapter Eleven. Beyond Philosophy: David Foster Wallace and the Dangers of Theorizing Randy Ramal Chapter Twelve. Good Faith and Sincerity: Sartrean Virtues of Self-Becoming in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest Allard den Dulk Chapter Thirteen. Theories of Everything and More: Infinity Is Not The End Ryan David Mullins Chapter Fourteen. Does Language Fail Us? Wallace's Struggle with Solipsism Patrick Horn Index

General Fields

  • : 9781441162656
  • : Continuum Publishing Corporation
  • : Continuum Publishing Corporation
  • : August 2014
  • : 216mm X 140mm X 23mm
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 296
  • : Paperback
  • : Robert K. Bolger