David Foster Wallace and the Body is the first full-length study to focus on Wallace’s career-long fascination with the human body and the textual representation of the body. The book provides engaging, accessible close readings that highlight the importance of the overlooked, and yet central theme of all of this major American author’s works: having a body. Wallace repeatedly made clear that good fiction is about what it means to be a ‘human being’. A large part of what that means is having a body, and being conscious of the conflicts that arise, morally and physically, as a result; a fact with which, as Wallace forcefully and convincingly argues, we all desire ‘to be reconciled’. Given the ubiquity of the themes of embodiment in Wallace’s work, this study is an important addition to an expanding field. The book also opens up the themes addressed to interrogate aspects of contemporary literature, culture, and society more generally, placing Wallace’s works in the history of literary and philosophical engagements with the brute fact of embodiment.
Table of Contents
Introduction - It is at the Level of the Body that We Proceed
1. Corporeal Punishment: The Body as Agent (Provocateur)
2. Écorché Style: David Foster Wallace’s Anatomical Poetics
3. Frantic Pistons and Yielding Curves: Gender and the (Com)modification of Desire
4. Hideously Defective: Disfigurement, Disability, and ‘Crip Humour’
5. Weak Evils: The Ageing Body
6. So Much Vapor Aloft: Drugs, (Idio-)Disincarnation, and Idio-Metempsychosis
Conclusion – It is at the Level of the Body that We Conclude
Dr. Peter Sloane is Lecturer in English at the University of Lincoln, England.