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The Legacy of David Foster Wallace

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  235 ratings  ·  22 reviews
 Considered by many to be the greatest writer of his generation, David Foster Wallace was at the height of his creative powers when he committed suicide in 2008. In a sweeping portrait of Wallace’s writing and thought and as a measure of his importance in literary history, The Legacy of David Foster Wallace gathers cutting-edge, field-defining scholarship by critics alongs ...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published April 15th 2012 by University Of Iowa Press
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This is, by far, the best book on DFW published so far.

Included are essays on DFW's relationship to and place in American literature's history, on the history and context of Infinite Jest, an absolutely wonderful explication of DFW's role as a 'postironist' (this one stands out as representative of the book's overall quality; it is concise and to-the-point and almost never academically bullshitty, but still critically strong and intelligent). Further essays include one on "the afterlife of rece
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-5-stars
A brilliant addendum to the works of DFW.

I especially appreciated the various personal stories, multiple insights and analyses of IJ, and flow charts in the submission by Ed Finn.

The Oxford comma on 226 is quite valuable.

I wonder what Wallace would say in regards to comparing metacognition to the subconscious through a literary format.
Jonna Higgins-Freese
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting collection of scholarly essays on Wallace, which were helpful to me in understanding his writing better. However, I sometimes felt they were forced, and I came away with a new impression that Wallace's project/goals had been a bit forced and overtly masculine, in a strange way. One of the most interesting essays was "Infinite Summer: Reading, Empathy, and the Social Network," in which Kathleen Fitzpatrick discusses the ways in which Wallace was interested in helping peopl ...more
Devin Wallace
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
A rather detailed and insightful overview of the life and work of David Foster Wallace, no doubt a genius who left the Earth far too early, although not early enough to prevent scholars from looking over the work. While the academic language may be off-putting to some, the longer pieces are broken up by a few pages of remembrances from his memorial service in October of 2008, by people like Don DeLillo and Jonathan Franzen.

Wallace is analyzed from all angles in three parts: History, in which Wa
E. C. Koch
Dec 19, 2014 rated it liked it
This wasn't as illuminating and insightful as I hoped it'd be, but inasmuch as this is a collection of scholarly articles with (very) short breaks (mostly the comments made by author friends at DFW's funeral service) I guess I should have seen this coming. There were a few interesting chapters/sections (an entire article dedicated to just footnotes is the sort or minutiae I get off to) but on the whole these articles were written in exactly the same academese that DFW said was the hallmark of th ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Bob by: Margaret Bjoring
Shelves: criticism
The editor's purpose was to get people to read more David Foster Wallace, and it worked for me. Personally interesting were Molly Schwartzburg's account of cataloging and using the DFW papers at UT's Ransom Center and Josh Roiland's survey of his journalistic pieces. ...more
Taylor Church
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not being one that usually reads prolix exegeses, I do enjoy some critical thinking as much as the next bear. And naturally, I'm going to read anything that concerns my favorite writer of words of all-time. And though some sections felt overly academic, almost as if to impress Wallace, the subject of the material, I still found it insightful and beautiful in many instances. The book is separated in different sections concerning history, aesthetics, and other scholarly delineators that expand the ...more
This book is simply unfortunate; DFW deserves better scholars. Virtually all of the articles read like particularly tedious grad student term papers ... the essay on DFW and Nietzsche's concept of oblivion was soul-crushingly terrible, so clearly a case of overreaching; similarly for the "literary" analysis of DFW's journalism. The DFW-isms in the editorial introduction are just cringe-worthy, and my general feeling while reading the book was "how did a bunch of DFW fanboy grad students in their ...more
Tom Quinn
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Y'know, just because DFW used footnotes doesn't mean everybody writing in homage to him should.

3 stars out of 5. A good reflection on what Wallace's works, at their best, mean to readers.
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Such a great book, a big insight in DFW life and writing. I hope to read everything he has written even if so far I didn't accomplish this mission, but still he is absolutely one of my favorite writers of all the times, and in this book I even got the reason why he is so universally loved and appreciated even if he's not easy at all. Memorials by Franzen and De Lillo, introduction to the 10th edition of Infinite Jest by Eggers, all stuff I wouldn't have read here in Italy....
Alex Daniel
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it
NOTE TO FUTURE SELF: Maybe you'll want to pick this one up again later? After mainlining 4-5 books straight from DFW, you're a bit overloaded with Wallace's style and subject matter. With that said, THE LEGACY OF DAVID FOSTER WALLACE is pretty engaging, as far as "academic" writing goes. In fact, Samuel Cohen et al seem to borrow Wallace's style for their own writing, which is pretty neat considering this type of material (i.e., academic writing) is usually pretty dry, bland, and stuffy. The for ...more
Deyth Banger
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2016
The book for the curious people is well made, like "What happen in the background?"... or "What happen backstage?" or many other questions like this in this book will be answered. Here is hidden the truth about one promise, about one author who died from self-doubt and depression. But who knows is he real or fake?
This book gives chance to explore interesting stuff and get questions and answers. I still want to know what happen wih that character why he decided to suicide. A lot of people have do
Andrew Bertaina
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a much better analysis of his writing than the earlier work, "Consider David Foster Wallace." The essays in here are chosen well, and sprinkled with remembrances from some of his friends, Saunders, DeLillo, Moody, Franzen from his memorial service, which serve a nice function of breaking up the text. The essays largely concern "Infinite Jest" as is appropriate given its status as the most interesting piece of uniquely American fiction written since Gravity's Rainbow. They range from read ...more
Oct 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Actually the content is maybe nearer a 4 but the more academic essays included kinda dry things up. I can empathize with the academics too though: writing papers on Wallace that rely on endnotes is an unfair task to begin with.

That said, I sincerely support the dedication to canonizing Wallace. The formal submissions all had something interesting to contribute and the writers' reminiscences of Wallace were uniformly moving. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone other than serious DFW fans but I'm
Nov 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the first literary criticism I've ever read outside a school assignment. I enjoyed most of it quite a bit, but feel somewhat abashed at joining the ranks of the "fans" of someone so uncomfortable with being a celebrity. Foster's writing style is such that you end up feeling like you know him even more so than with most authors, so it was very interesting to read about him and his work from so many who actually did. Even more than after reading IJ, I am left with a deep sadness about what ...more
Placing eulogy & interview with literary criticism to cover many things David Foster Wallace. Though probably not essential for even the most devoted & voracious DFW fans (most of the arguments in the crit. lit. articles are obvious enough, assume you know your Dave & his concerns), the collection is good reading. Notables: Josh Roiland's "Getting Away From It All", Lee Konstantinou's "No Bull", & Kathleen Fitzpatrick's "Infinite Summer". Included eulogies by Saunders, DeLillo, Franzen & Moody a ...more
Ian Cattanach
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Overall a good collection of essays. Really shed some light for me on David, and some of the struggles he went through in his life. Some sections you should straight skip, and scanning others is recommended. Nothing that crazy in here, but a bunch of deep themes I missed really got some light shed on them in this book.
Patricia L.
Mar 20, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a book that you might read if you were taking a course in English Literature. It is not the David Foster Wallace's essence that I delight in. Sure I love the way he uses footnotes but it does not celebrate, it comments from a distant perspective. Perhaps this is what objectivity is all about, but it is not what DFW's legacy is. ...more
Heidi Noonan
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Bearing in mind that I'm +10 years past my last reading of literary criticism I nonetheless found this collection mostly interesting and not super tedious. I even looked forward to reading it most nights! ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Anecdotes and interviews are worth the price of admission. Scholarly works remind me why I was glad to be done with scholarly writing after finishing my MA.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
there are some excellent contributions here, most notably Lee Konstantinou's chapter. ...more
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: co-edited
Yes, I co-edited and contributed to the book, but it's actually pretty good. ...more
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