Title
Only artists can transfigure: Kafka's artists and the possibility of redemption in the Novellas of David Foster Wallace Only artists can transfigure: Kafka's artists and the possibility of redemption in the Novellas of David Foster Wallace
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Publication type
article
Publication
Copenhague ,
Subject
Literature
Source (journal)
Orbis litterarum. - Copenhague
Volume/pages
65(2010) :6 , p. 459-480
ISSN
0030-4409
0105-7510
ISI
000283981800002
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
David Foster Wallace envisioned literature as a living interaction between reader and writer. Artistic fiction should aggravate the sense of loneliness and entrapment in the reader, Wallace argues, since any possible human redemption requires us first to confront what we want to deny. The following article examines the representation of the artist¡¯s role in this process by focusing on the two Wallace novellas that explicitly feature an artist figure ¨CWestward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (1989) and The Suffering Channel (2004). Contrary to the metafictional texts of Wallace¡¯s postmodernist forebears, both novellas display an almost obsessive preoccupation with the interrelatedness between the world and the work of art. It consequently appears that a model for Wallace¡¯s prototypical artist can be found in the artist stories of Franz Kafka, the author admired by Wallace for his ability to put the worst into language. While Theodor Adorno claims that Kafka¡¯s stories transmit a consciousness of the negativity of the world, postmodern self©\reflexivity only transmits a consciousness of itself. An interpretation of Wallace¡¯s novellas in relation to his reading of Kafka can therefore illustrate how the author attempts to go beyond the representational aporias of canonical postmodernism.
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