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      ‘The realer, more enduring and sentimental part of him’: David Foster Wallace’s Personal Library and Marginalia

      Orbit: A Journal of American Literature

      Open Library of Humanities

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          Abstract

          This article asks what kind of relationship critics can posit between, on the one hand, David Foster Wallace’s personal library and marginalia and, on the other hand, his published works of fiction. The controversy surrounding Maria Bustillos’ 2011 reading of annotations in a selection of Wallace’s self-help texts – one result of which was the redaction of those texts from the archive – has served to reinforce the conventional critical understanding of authorly marginalia as a form of personal revelation or truth, and, by extension, as a kind of allegorical key to the respective literary oeuvre. However, this article contends that such a straightforward model of interpretation is unsettled by a reading of the marginalia alongside Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest and his short story ‘Good Old Neon.’ The article concludes that, once the annotations are placed into this more dynamic relation with the fiction, such seemingly fundamental and potentially ‘therapeutic’ notions as truth, origin, and the ‘inner self’ are actually shown to be intertextually and ideologically entangled with a set of popular North American discourses that not only traverse Wallace’s library and oeuvre, but continue to shape his reception inside and outside the academy.

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2398-6786
                Orbit: A Journal of American Literature
                Open Library of Humanities
                2398-6786
                22 March 2017
                : 5
                : 1
                Affiliations
                English, American Studies and Creative Writing, University of Manchester, UK
                Article
                10.16995/orbit.142
                Copyright: © 2017 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                Product
                Self URI (journal-page): https://www.pynchon.net/
                Categories
                David foster wallace special issue

                Literary studies, History

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