David Foster Wallace's stories of the mediated self
LE3 .A278 2006
Master of Arts
English & Theatre Studies
The popular assessment of David Foster Wallace's short stories as innovative is best contextualized by determining both his representational strategy and its aesthetic ground. In order to counter two forms of American, postmodern nihilism---the tyranny of unremitting irony and the apathy of un-reflexive minimalism---Wallace writes stories of the mediated self. Depicting the mediating force of, alternately, an internal feeling, an external power, or an intruding event, Wallace reveals the complexity of the forces that inform the self, a complexity the ironist's attacks and the minimalist's detachment ignore. Wallace dramatizes mediation through character interaction and inscribes it formally through the insinuation of the mediating force on the narratorial perspective. Close analysis of an octet of Wallace's stories demonstrates the relation between his aesthetic foundation (the desire to counter nihilism) and his innovative works, and provides the basis for rereading the creative and theoretical labour of Wallace's short story predecessors.
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