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Paperback David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest Book

ISBN: 082641477X

ISBN13: 9780826414779

David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest

(Part of the Continuum Contemporaries Series)

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

This is part of a new series of guides to contemporary novels. The aim of the series is to give readers accessible and informative introductions to some of the most popular, most acclaimed and most influential novels of recent years - from 'The Remains of the Day' to 'White Teeth'. A team of contemporary fiction scholars from both sides of the Atlantic has been assembled to provide a thorough and readable analysis of each of the novels in question...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A post-reading guide

Hi, This is a wonderful guide to Infinite Jest. It contains, in just a few pages, a valid summary of the book; a short biography of DFW and lots of hints to start a conversation about the great writer's masterpiece. Nonetheless, IJ is such a broad subject that a short guide could never be sufficient to really master the text without reading it with patience and attention, maybe a couple of times. Id est, you cannot take an exam on IJ without reading the book thoroughly before. This guide will re-create timelines, happenings, connections that might have been unclear to the reader, but the reader must well know what Mr.Burn is talking about. I consider myself quite an attentive reader; however, Burn's guide made me realize that, amid the 1079 pages of the book, there were links between the sub-plots that had skipped my surveillance. A Must-Read for those who have loved this book and want to know some new perspective.

Read this after Infinite Jest

This book is excellent for reviewing the overall meaning of infinite jest. It lays out a comprehensive chronology of every event, delves into several topics concerning David Foster Wallace and Infinite Jest, and, most importantly, is a good read. If you've made it through the 1000-some pages of Infinite Jest, add these 96 pages to the top and get a much-needed recap of this great book.

An Illuminating Guide

If Infinite Jest has become the Ulysses of the late twentieth century, then this excellent guide is the equivalent of Stuart Gilbert's companion to Joyce's masterpiece: Burn offers a lucid unravelling of some of the more mysterious aspects of Wallace's book (what exactly is up with Hal, where the mastercopy of the film is at a given time), but he also demonstrates fascinating parallels with books like The Golden Bough that I'd never thought of. It's also mercifully free of the kind of esoteric literary theory that spoils so many literary studies - refreshingly Burn prefers to situate the novel alongside the work of writers like Jonathan Franzen, and William Gaddis.The book is short (you sometimes get the feeling that Burns wants to say more but doesn't have space) but within those limitations this is a fine study of a terrific novel - highly recommended.

Brilliant, humble analysis

I've been a fan of IJ since reading it in the summer of '96, but I've never read such a lucid and thoughtful analysis as this book provides. Burns has put enormous effort into analyzing Wallace's writing style, and avoids the simple analysis that Wallace is concsiously trying to undermine. Even though there are many subjects in the book that I would love Burns' opinion on, he is forthcoming about the limitations of the 'readers' guide' format, and has chosen his few topics for detailed analysis with care and skill. I especially liked his understanding and analysis of IJ's literary context: rather than simplistically comparing Wallace's work to Pynchon or DeLillo, as many have done, he explores the richer tradition of myth materials and 20th-century literature that informs Wallace's brilliant novel.My only criticism is Burns' failure to comment on Wallace's sense of humor, which was one of the reasons I loved IJ so much, and why I find it worth re-reading from time to time. I've enjoyed other writers endorsed by Wallace, like Irvine Welsh and Dave Eggers, but some literary analysis of Wallace's effective use of different varieties of humor would have been helpful. Still, given the lucid and concise analysis Burns provides, this criticism should be understood as part of my wishlist, not any negative take on Burns' sense of humor.


A remarkable book - and a fitting tribute to DFW's wonderful novel. Quite how Stephen Burn has managed to cram so much lucid opinion and information into a book of this brevity is beyond me, but he should be warmly applauded for doing so. One quibble only, for the publishers: labelling this book a 'readers guide' is doing it a disservice. Burn's book is much, much more than that.
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