Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Companion Guides?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:35 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:45 am
Posts: 1
Does anyone have any recommendations for companion books/guides for Infinite Jest? I've read through before, but for Infinite Summer I think it would be fun to use one of these to dig in a little deeper (hopefully)

Here's a couple that I've come across with a quick search:

Elegant Complexity - looks to be more literary criticism, but does include reference material

Infinite Jest: A Reader's Guide (Continuum Contemporaries)

Anything else worthwhile out there? Best online guides?


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 Post subject: Re: Companion Guides?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:56 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:49 pm
Posts: 5
I am biased because I am the editor and publisher of Elegant Complexity, but let me tell you what I know. Elegant Complexity is modeled after a guide to Ulysses called The Bloomsday Book (by Harry Blamires). It takes each section of the novel, provides a summary, a discussion about the themes and characters, and a lot of reference material in the appendix. It is not really literary criticism. In fact, the author, Carlisle, is a theater professor, not an English professor. I think one of the coolest features of EC is the map of Enfield Tennis Academy. The description of the place can be somewhat hard to follow in the novel and I think it's ultra helpful to see a visual representation of it.

I am also a fan of the Continuum guide by Stephen Burn. Burn's guide follows the Continuum series format and is rather short (96 pages). It includes a helpful chronology and sections on the novel's critical reception and key plot points. By contrast, Elegant Complexity is 512 pages long. There is one other "Reader's Companion" out there (edited by Dowling and Bell) that I would not recommend because it includes many errors that could confuse the first-time reader.

Here is a family tree of the Incandenza family from Elegant Complexity: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mbb/2219381416/


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 Post subject: Re: Companion Guides?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:02 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:42 am
Posts: 75
The IJ Wiki is a great guide to help with the many words DFW uses in IJ.

Also, Infinite Summer participants can join and add to it to make it even better. Don't feel like you shouldn't join because you are a new reader. You can look up one word and add it or clarify explain it to improve the site for all. Every little bit counts :D

Note this is not the same website as Wikipedia's IJ page.


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 Post subject: Re: Companion Guides?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 8:23 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 1:10 pm
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I have used both the Continuum guide and Elegant Complexity. The Continuum guide is great for after you have finished the book. Elegant Complexity was indispensable for me when reading the book the first time. It does not contain spoilers and guides you through each section pointing out the reoccurrence of themes and makes connections that I would have otherwise missed.


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