Infinite Summer

The Brothers Incandenza (Wallace&Dostoevsky)
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Author:  thelastbulgarian [ Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:16 am ]
Post subject:  The Brothers Incandenza (Wallace&Dostoevsky)

I wrote a bit about this in a post and a number of people PM'd me about it, so I figured I'd post a topic.

For those of you interested in Dostoevsky, and particularly how he's related to Wallace, there's a very interesting article out there you might want to check out. It's called "The Brothers Incandenza" by Timothy Jacobs, and consists of an analysis of IJ, the Brothers, and Wallace's essay in Consider the Lobster titled "Josef Frank's Dostoevsky" (also "Feodor's Guide" in previous publications). Basically besides really spectacular analysis of IJ, the Brothers, and the two together, Jacobs argues for the strong connection between the two writers/philosophers, and how they are essentially pushing the same ideas (This is Water).

Anyway the article isn't online or in bookstores, but can be accessed via a University Library. Info here: ... acobs.html.

The good news is, I have it saved to my computer. So if you don't feel like going down to the University you can just PM me with your email address and I'll send it to you.

Happy reading!

Author:  Cassandra [ Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Brothers Incandenza (Wallace&Dostoevsky)

I tend to be kind of skeptical about things like this. Dostoevsky covers such ample ground as an author writing on family values that it's hard to decipher where things purposely overlap and where similarities accidentally arise. You'd almost be hard-pressed to find a Russian "Golden Age" author who doesn't touch upon the same mundane (not that they aren't entirely charming, and in no way negatively voicing Wallace or Dostoevsky) family-oriented ideals as Wallace in this novel. I am looking forward to reading the article, though, maybe it will change my opinion here.

Has anyone else read both Infinite Jest and Karamazov before?

Also, please disregard the chaotic and illiterate nature of this, it's 2am and I'm listening to Lupe Fiasco. The last thing I'm supposed to do right now is create coherent sentences.

Author:  thelastbulgarian [ Sun Jun 28, 2009 1:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Brothers Incandenza (Wallace&Dostoevsky)

No, no, it's not about family values. The thing that ties Wallace and Dostoevsky together is honesty. I don't have Consider the Lobster with me but what Wallace says in 'Feodor's Guide' is that for an author today to write a 3-page monologue on an epiphany, or even just a meditation on religious angst or something, and not throw in some ironic mumbo-jumbo to turn the whole thing into a joke would be suicide. The public just can't handle honesty, which is why nobody reads Dostoevsky, says Wallace. He's just too simple in that way. Today it's all about who can create the most complex post-post-modern hunk of literary pretentiousness.

What Jacobs says is that Nietzsche is the second Dostoevsky and, in many ways, Wallace is the third. Because FMD is so overthetop with his 19th cent. Russ. Orthodox zeal everybody's turned to the atheist Nietzsche who is, Jacobs argues, an extension of FMD -- and so everybody has essentially missed the point. It's not Christian vs. Atheist here; in fact, in the larger scope of things, it hardly matters if 'God' exists or what. The thing that affects life - our perception of things - is belief ('This is Water'). FMD writes about belief and so does Nietzsche, but hardly anyone is getting the message, is Jacobs' argument.

So Wallace is clearing things up. He's using honesty to communicate the importance of belief -- again, for a concise example of this, read his commencement speech 'This is Water'.

Here's another way of making the connection. You've read the Brothers, right, Cassandra? So you're familiar with Ivan's infamous angsty monologues, or the preachy section right before Zossima's death, or Mitya's Confessions, right? Now pick up Infinite Jest and check out pgs. 80-85, or 107-108, or 157-169, or 172-176, etc, etc.

Author:  Bob_124 [ Thu Jul 02, 2009 11:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Brothers Incandenza (Wallace&Dostoevsky)

very cool. I'm going to pm you my email address if I can, bulgarian, because I would love to read that essay. I'm not very familiar with Wallace yet, having read only a few of his essays and the beginning of IJ, but I have read The Brothers K and some of Dostoevsky's other novels. And at this pt. I'd agree with you that Wallace and D. are touching on fundamentally similar themes - not only honestly but also the search for peace in the face of a lot of anguish and suffering. I don't want to say too much, yet, since I'm only about 100 pages into IJ. But both the guy waiting for pot and the psych ward episode reminded me of a couple scenes from D.'s novels.

p.s. Joseph Frank's biography is ridiculously thorough and is a great resource, not only for Dostoevsky's life but also for 19th century Russian literature and culture. It's really long, though: over 1000 pages I think!

Author:  miel [ Sun Jul 19, 2009 12:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Brothers Incandenza (Wallace&Dostoevsky)

I saw many Karamazov parallels in IJ.

I don't remember what all of them were.

Of course, the crucial one would be the three brothers, each embodying a very different type and philosophical orientation. There is the sensualist, sexpot bro., the holy innocent bro and the intellectual bro.

Ivan, Dmitry and Aloysha? God, I think Ivan is the sexpot and Aloysha is the holy innocent. I really need to read the Bros. K again.

All have different approaches to the stance a person can take toward evil and responsibility--nihilism, faith, love, sensual indulgence and escape, etc. The philosophical content of the novel is often developed in their conversations with one another.

The father is the cause of their problems, in a sense. There are also servants of various kinds--which does remind me of the Tennis School. Various servants, embodying various levels of reliability and trustworthiness that loom large in the experience of the bros.

There's a woman who is the beloved of Ivan (?). Things get very hairy with them. Damn, my memory sucks. In any case, it is true passionate love gone wrong.

The Bros. K is explicitly mentioned in IJ toward the end. I'm sure if I re-read the Bros. K and re-read IJ I could find a whole bunch of parallels.

DOH! Didn't see the link above. OK, whole scholarly article about the issue. I'm sure they cover all the essential territory. I will try to get a copy of the article.

Author:  mikek [ Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Brothers Incandenza (Wallace&Dostoevsky)

i'd say that orin most resembles dmitri, since dmitri is the "wicked, impulsive sensualist." i think that hal is more like ivan; ivan is extremely intelligent, cold, rational. i forget who calls him a "grave." and then mario's innocence and sincerity paralells the innocence of alyosha.

Author:  thelulu [ Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Brothers Incandenza (Wallace&Dostoevsky)

thanks for the article!
I just saw it...

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