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The title, I assume, is after the Hamlet quote, "Alas, poor Yoriek! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest." So, my question is: How much of a prior knowledge do I need to have of Hamlet to read this? Is it the sort of thing where I have to read Hamlet before I read Infinite Jest or I'd miss a large chunk of significance, or could I just read a synopsis of the play and get by?

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Adam Holeman Absolutely no prior knowledge of Hamlet is necessary to read Infinite Jest.
Candice In that case, you'll have to read The Brothers Karamazov, Kafka's short stories, Lost in the Funhouse, and many other works apart from Hamlet (and watch Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Eraserhead, The Elephant Man) which have many meta-textual references to this.

Just dig in and enjoy !
Jim Manis I find it difficult to imagine anyone having graduated from high school not having read Hamlet, but 37 years of college teaching has taught me that my assumption is foolish.

Tristram Shandy, on the other hand, is a different story.
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