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Understanding David Foster Wallace (Understanding Contemporary American Literature) Hardcover – December 12, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


“A valuable introduction to Wallace and his first four books. Boswell provides enlightening interpretations of much of the fiction, especially in his use of Wittgenstein in reading The Broom of the System and Lacan and Kierkegaard in reading Infinite Jest.”—Review of Contemporary Fiction --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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A detailed approach to the fiction of a pioneer in modernism’s third wave --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Understanding Contemporary American Literature
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press (December 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570035172
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570035173
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,693,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marshall Boswell is the author of the story collection, "Trouble with Girls" (Algonquin Books, 2003) and the novel "Alternative Atlanta" (Delacorte Press, 2005). Both books are currently available in paperback. His new novel is called "The Opinion Leader" and should be forthcoming soon.

In addition, Marshall has published two book-length scholarly monographs, " John Updike's Rabbit Tetralogy: Mastered Irony in Motion" (University of Missouri Press, 2001) and "Understanding David Foster Wallace" (University of South Carolina Press, 2004). He is also the co-editor of Volume IV of "The Encylcopedia of American Literature: 1946 to the Present" (Facts on File, 2008).

Marshall grew up in the Mid-South and received his B.A. from Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA. He holds an M.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and a Ph.D. from Emory University in Atlanta. Since 1996 he as taught American Literature and Fiction Writing at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, where he is an Associate Professor. He is married and the father of three sons. His old band, Enormous Richard, once opened up for Alex Chilton and Uncle Tupelo. In fact, his band is "thanked" in the liner notes of Uncle Tupelo's first album, though he's pretty sure Jeff Tweedy couldn't pick him out in a police line-up. Incidentally, Marshall's never actually been in a police line-up.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Steven Moore on January 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though priced for flush university libraries rather than for skint individuals, this is an intelligent critique of DFW's work to date. Following an introduction, there are separate chapters on each of the 4 fiction books (the essays are discussed only in passing), illuminating the philosophical and aesthetic concerns of each book in a clear style with minimal academic jargon. Even longtime Wallace fans will find the book enlightening, and first-time readers couldn't hope for a better introduction to one of the most important American writers of our time. Highly recommended.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Koretsky on February 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
I just recently read "The Broom of the System", and found Boswell's book to be a very clear and cogent description of Wallace's style and meaning. He very understandably explicates the metafictional foundations and philosophical background of Wallace's approach to literature, and he made alot of sense to me, grounding the work in the modernist and postmodernist literary traditions. I am about to read the chapter on "Infinite Jest", which I read a few years back, and I'm sure it will be very insightful. I learned a great deal from Boswell, not only about Wallace, but about reading, writing literature, and thinking in general. Thanks!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Howard on January 1, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While reading this book, I had dreams that I was trying to teach high school kids the difference between Modernism and Post Modernism, but I kept getting interrupted by various administrators and other teachers. Then, class was over before I'd had a chance to explain anything. Hmm.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lynne B. Davis on July 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
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