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“I Am in Here”: A Comparative Reading of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest and Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis

Allard den Dulk    Amsterdam University College, The Netherlands    

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abstract

Kafka’s The Metamorphosis (1915), with Gregor Samsa’s transformation “into a gigantic insect”, forms an insightful comparative reading to the opening of Wallace’s Infinite Jest (1996), including Hal Incandenza’s seeming, unexplained catatonia. Wallace described Kafka’s fiction as conducting a “radical literalization of truths we tend to treat as metaphorical”. In comparing Kafka’s novella and Infinite Jest, the question ‘what has happened to Hal?’ thus means: what metaphor is literalized by Hal’s situation? In both texts, the metaphors represent selfhood and writing fiction; but, contrary to Gregor, Hal has taken up the task of self-becoming and symbolizes literary disclosure and communication – rendering Infinite Jest as a redemptive novel.

Pubblicato
16 Marzo 2022
Accettato
07 Dicembre 2021
Presentato
16 Settembre 2021
Lingua
EN
Copyright: © 2021 Allard den Dulk. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.