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David Foster Wallace

In David Foster Wallace: Fiction and Form, David Hering analyses the structures of David Foster Wallace's fiction, from his debut The Broom of the System to his final unfinished novel The Pale King. Incorporating extensive analysis of Wallace's drafts, notes and letters, and taking account of the rapidly expanding field of Wallace scholarship, this book argues that the form of Wallace's fiction is always inextricably bound up within an ongoing conflict between the monologic and the dialogic, one strongly connected with Wallace's sense of his own authorial presence and identity in the work. Hering suggests that this conflict occurs at the level of both subject and composition, analysing the importance of a number of provocative structural and critical contexts - ghostliness, institutionality, reflection - to the fiction while describing how this argument is also visible within the development of Wallace's manuscripts, comparing early drafts with published material to offer a career-long framework of the construction of Wallace's fiction. The final chapter offers an unprecedentedly detailed analysis of the troubled, decade-long construction of the work that became The Pale King.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Introduction Chapter 1 Vocality "A Flickering Hand, Dead and Cold": Reading Wallace's Ghosts Chapter 2 Spatiality "In the Middle of the Middle of Nowhere": Regionalism and Institutions Chapter 3 Visuality "Seeing by Mirror-Light": Wallace on Reflection Chapter 4 Finality "Not Even Close to Complete": The Many Forms of The Pale King Works Cited

Promotional Information

A fresh reassessment of David Foster Wallace's entire fictional career and writing process.

About the Author

David Hering is Lecturer in English at the University of Liverpool, UK.


There's a chapter devoted to Wallace's evolving articulation of voice, of space and of vision, respectively. Taken individually, these three chapters deepen our appreciation of Wallace's work and its development. Taken together, they provide Hering with grounds for specifying, in the final chapter, just how `incomplete' the published version of The Pale King can be taken to be. * Organization * In Fiction and Form, Hering offers the first sustained investigation of how these papers [from the Wallace archive] inform and illuminate Wallace's published writing. * Textual Practice * Since the death of David Foster Wallace, we have been waiting for a comprehensive study of his literary career, its trajectory and achievements. Through in-depth study of Wallace's published works and extensive archive, David Hering brilliantly anatomizes the author's writing via themes of vocality, visuality and spatiality. The book's final chapter, a forensic reconstruction of the drafting process for The Pale King, tells a whole new story of Wallace's creative life over his final years. An exhilarating read for fans and scholars alike, David Foster Wallace: Fiction and Form represents the most significant step forward in Wallace studies for at least a decade. * Adam Kelly, Lecturer in American Literature, University of York, UK, and author of American Fiction in Transition * David Hering offers a highly insightful study of questions of vocality (specifically, analyzing `possession' as a model for authorial presence), spatiality (discussing regionalism and institutionality) and visuality (that is, modelling different forms of reflection and refraction) in the work of David Foster Wallace. Subsequently, these questions are connected to a revelatory chronology of the composition of Wallace's unfinished novel The Pale King, making Hering's monograph invaluable reading for all scholars interested in the development of Wallace's fiction. * Allard den Dulk, Lecturer in Philosophy, Literature and Film, Amsterdam University College, and Humanities Research Fellow, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and author of Existentialist Engagement in Wallace, Eggers and Foer *

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