A moral jester? : David Foster Wallace and Infinite Jest's hidden moral heart
thesisposted on 2021-06-08, 11:03 authored by Michael GL Bacal
In this thesis, I explore the frequently overlooked moral dimensions of David Foster Wallace's seminal novel Infinite Jest. I seek to propose, in spite of the commonly cited iconoclasm of the text, an alternative reading of it as an old-fashioned bildungsroman concerned with the possibilities of moral and spiritual growth. In particular, I illuminate the unconventional way Wallace reimagines classic narratives of redemption and salvation under the surface of the novel, and I develop a framework with which to understand their centrality. Furthermore, I address how this belongs to his larger attempts to reconcile many of the traditional thematic concerns of the novel with several of the challenges presented by the postmodern avant-garde. I argue that, in its efforts to do so, Infinite Jest helped to renew, in many powerful and unexpected ways, the classic story of redemption and offer a profound meditation on many larger ills plaguing society today.