Sunday, April 10, 2011

Infinite Study

David Foster Wallace's unfinished, posthumous novel The Pale King has just been published. The web is awash in articles about the new book, about Wallace himself, and about the legacy of the writer who, since taking his own life in 2008, has been almost universally acclaimed as one of the most important American writers of the last two generations.

The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin acquired DFW's archives, including manuscripts, notebooks, and many books from his personal library, all of which is available to scholars and enthusiasts. Coinciding with the release of The Pale King, the Ransom Center presents material associated with the writing of the book, accessed here.

One of the plethora of articles that have emerged since Wallace's death  is "Inside David Foster Wallace's Self-Help Library" by Maria Bustillos. When I came upon this piece, my first reaction was 'Gad, this whole DFW scholarship thing sure got excessive and pointless in a hurry.' And then I read the article. It's fascinating and anything but trite or pointless and offers what the best of these sorts of articles can, a unique and considered insight into the life and thinking of an artist hailed, admired, and read by many, many people, any number of whom themselves are serious working artists. The Bustillos article is first rate literary journalism.

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