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The Divided Selves of David Foster Wallace

Sloane, P; (2014) The Divided Selves of David Foster Wallace. Tropos , 1 (1) pp. 67-73. 10.14324/111.2057-2212.011. Green open access

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This paper attempts to provide a new reading of the works of David Foster Wallace. Wallace, as a writer and as a person, is susceptible to readings which focus on mind and mental states, and whilst this is appropriate and effective, it also leads to what I propose is Wallace’s main interest being overlooked. That interest can be summed up by the question: what is it like to have, and to be, a body that both is and is not us? Persons have bodies, and bodies are, in a very real way, agents; they are composites of drives and response mechanisms, and these may not always be in accord with our thoughts about ourselves. This paper demonstrates the presence of extraordinary bodies in Wallace’s works, and argues that Wallace considered the body to be a useful means of investigating the metaphysical aspects of ‘being’. The paper explores this via a brief overview of Wallace’s early works, before moving on to a reading of Hal from Infinite Jest (1996), and David Cusk from The Pale King (2011).

Type: Article
Title: The Divided Selves of David Foster Wallace
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.14324/111.2057-2212.011
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/111.2057-2212.011
Language: English
Additional information: © Sloane, P; (2014). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, The Pale King, The Body, Embodiment
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1420208
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