Elegant Complexity: A Study of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest

Elegant Complexity A Study of David Foster Wallace s Infinite Jest Elegant Complexity is the first critical work to provide detailed and thorough commentary on each of the sections of David Foster Wallace s masterful Infinite Jest No other commentary on Infinite

  • Title: Elegant Complexity: A Study of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest
  • Author: Greg Carlisle
  • ISBN: 9780976146537
  • Page: 158
  • Format: Paperback
  • Elegant Complexity is the first critical work to provide detailed and thorough commentary on each of the 192 sections of David Foster Wallace s masterful Infinite Jest No other commentary on Infinite Jest recognizes that Wallace clearly divided the book into 28 chapters that are thematically unified A chronology at the end of the study reorders each section of the novelElegant Complexity is the first critical work to provide detailed and thorough commentary on each of the 192 sections of David Foster Wallace s masterful Infinite Jest No other commentary on Infinite Jest recognizes that Wallace clearly divided the book into 28 chapters that are thematically unified A chronology at the end of the study reorders each section of the novel into a sequential timeline that orients the reader and that could be used to support a chronological reading of the novel Other helpful reference materials include a thematic outline, chronologies, a map of one the novel s settings, lists of characters grouped by association, and an indexed list of references Elegant Complexity orients the reader at the beginning of each section and keeps commentary separate for those readers who only want orientation The researcher looking for specific characters or themes is provided a key at the beginning of each commentary Carlisle explains the novel s complex plot threads and discrepancies with expert insight and clear commentary The book is 99% spoiler free for first time readers of Infinite Jest.

    One thought on “Elegant Complexity: A Study of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest”

    1. infinite jest is like the best lover i have ever had. and i knew we were not exclusive; i knew it had been around and MFSO had had an equally intense relationship with it, but i can honestly say i have never felt this way about a book before, and i never expect to again, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event.(i know one time i compared graceling to a romantic relationship, but that was an analogy - this is true true love)reading this companion book is like revisiting old love letters. i would frequ [...]

    2. this book provides absolutely nothing to a careful reader of the text. total letdown.---I don't often tread the waters of literary criticism, but in the immortal words of Trick Daddy, "let's go!"

    3. This is a very impressive companion to Infinite Jest. The author states that it is "99% spoiler-free", and I think that's very accurate. Essentially, it's a section-by-section recap of Infinite Jest, complete with analyses of themes and some questions that arise from the text. While a lot of the text is indeed quotes from the book, I thought it was extremely helpful in orienting myself and getting the chronology straight as I navigated the book.Ultimately, this book is light on analysis and won' [...]

    4. How I wish I had this when I read Infinite Jest back in 1998!! Elegant Complexity is so terrific, I want to buy it again! I pick it up on average about once every couple weeks, and each time I do I'm just grateful for its existence, grateful that Carlisle busted his butt—for years, clearly—to sort though a cast of (practically) thousands, Wallace's esoteric (and sometimes invented) vocabulary, to say nothing of IJ's scrambled chronology.If you've read and enjoyed Infinte Jest, I enthusiastic [...]

    5. Kind of like Cliff's Notes for Infinite Jest (at an unsurprising 500+ pages)--highly recommended if you read Infinite Jest. It discusses themes, outlines plots, and makes sense of passages that (to me) seemed out-of-place and unnecessary. This book will sit you down and patiently explain to you that what seemed like 1,100 pages of plot fragments and bizarre characters actually has an intricate structure, well-considered theme, and meaning. And that some of those holes in the narrative, some of t [...]

    6. At the moment, the most exhaustive reader's guide to Infinite Jest. Well worth your time and money, especially for first time readers of IJ. Whenever I get around to re-reading IJ, it will be nice having Carlisle's insights in my mind. Also, it pretty much proves all critics who think IJ is a sloppy mess of disconnection wrong. In fact, it's the exact opposite, where everything in the novel ends up being connected in some way, usually in multiple ways. Carlisle helps the reader realize IJ is an [...]

    7. Great companion to "Infinite Jest" -- really helps one get a handle on the scope, themes and layout of the book. Of course, given that DFW hanged himself almost exactly a week ago today, I'm feeling a little subdued/depressed on all matters DFW.Infinite Jest, which I read last year, is for me one of those "life-changing" books. Elegant Complexity helps elucidate the book's goings-on, most of which registered for me on an emotional level as opposed to intellectual-. IJ is about a tennis academy, [...]

    8. As you'd expect, Carlisle's study brings out a multitude of facts and connections within the text that a more casual reader (e.g. me) misses. It would have been a good companion for the Infinite Summer mass-read, and I'd recommend it to anyone who is considering tackling Wallace's opus. Be forewarned, though, Elegant Complexity is basically a scholarly work, so the tone is quite dry.One thing that makes Infinite Jest a difficult and sometimes frustrating work is that 'it's as much about what's m [...]

    9. Honestly, I feel like this book misses the point. It serves basically an extended summary that makes explicit the more implicit connections to be found in the story, not as any sort of "answer" to the questions of plot raised by Infinite Jest (like I had kinda foolishly expected it to be). Also, it tends to ignore the wonderfully human aspect of the novel, which is both absolutely horrible and entirely necessary for the study to work. It's cause of the lack of the human thing that I say this boo [...]

    10. Elegant Complexity by Greg Carlisle is a companion book or guide to David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. It is fascinating reading, although I found it difficult and not particularly helpful as far as IJ goes. However, it's identification of themes and motifs is very interesting and it's outline of the plot helps the other reading (to a small degree). Ultimately, I put aside this book and read it after I finished IJ. It is well, albeit densely (like IJ) written and thought-provoking. Like all g [...]

    11. This book summarizes each "chapter" and provides an overview of the themes, along with the time and page numbers. Loved it. He caught a lot of connections that I had missed, and his coverage of the various themes was really insightful. Also helpful are a map of the E.T.A. grounds (finally!) and a chronological ordering of the chapters. It was like reading the book again, only more quickly and with greater comprehension. An excellent reading companion for the first-timer who *really* wants to get [...]

    12. I've read Infinite Jest three times now, and the last time I read it I used this guide (to call it a "study" is generous). After each section I would read the corresponding section in Elegant Complexity. It definitely assisted me in picking up on some small things, connecting themes, repeated metaphors, and more. I would suggest it to anyone reading Infinite Jest for a 2nd or 3rd time, but not for the first-time reader. It's best to just read and enjoy it as-is.

    13. On the one hand Carlisle carefully dissects every chapter and nearly every paragraph of Infinite Jest, doing well to demystify the epic, often confounding, tome. On the other hand, Carlisle either isn't a very good writer, or he treated this as a work that didn't require anything more than published note-taking. His writing is mechanical, stilted, but perhaps that's the intention as to not further obfuscate an already bewildering text.

    14. Can I say that I read it even if I dipped in and out of it?Oh hell, I will anyway.Great book for DFW/Infinite Jest fans, but I would recommend using it as a companion after you've read IJ at least once, or it will make your reading a bit too clinical. First time round, I'd just enjoy the (long) ride.

    15. This book was not nearly as helpful as I anticipated. But to say it was not helpful at all would be wrong. Carlisle did remind me of more than a few "Hamlet" allusions that I otherwise would have missed, and also helped to bring my attention to at least a couple of repeated motifs (heads and spiders, more than any others). The thing is, this book is really just an extended summary of Infinite Jest with subsequent "section" summaries as well. It's less a guide to read in tandem with IJ and more [...]

    16. Before I began reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (or IJ), I did some research. I did some blog/website hopping and found that when it comes to Infinite Jest, people either love it or they hate it; there doesn’t seem to be any in-between. For those people who finished Infinite Jest and really enjoyed it, the majority of them agreed that Elegant Complexity was big help during their IJ journey. I probably would have been fine without it, but I’m really glad that I used it; I found [...]

    17. This book is a good companion of IJ. It breaks each chapter down into two sections, a recap, and a thematic analysis. I didn't really need the recap unless the chapter was difficult and convoluted, and I wanted to check to make sure I didn't miss anything (Eschaton). The book really did help me more thoroughly enjoy IJ, and was particularly helpful with keeping chronologies straight and revisiting minute details that resurfaced hundreds of pages later. The last 40 pages of the book also really h [...]

    18. it's pretty staggering to think about the amount of time and effort that must have gone into writing this book. i'm tempted to say that it left no stone unturned, but there's no way that could really be possible. i wouldn't recommend reading this along with infinite jest because it's much more rewarding to decipher things for yourself, but it was great to be able to pick this up after the fact and reconnect with the story and the characters and to see what connections i missed, and i missed a lo [...]

    19. This gave quite a few insights into Infinite Jest, especially the lengthy comparison to Hamlet, puns on M.P. and connections with Ulysses. Detailed to a fault, it reviews each section and has helpful connections to previous chapters. The book is useful for resolving the sinking feeling that you need to read IJ again!One real chestnut is in the endnotes of this book (itself weighing in at over 500 pages) there is a link to the rare original first draft of IJ. This has an additional 250 pages of a [...]

    20. A wonderful readers companion to Infinite Jest. This was my second reading of Infinite Jest, and the analysis in this book was definitely work the additional 500 pages of reading. It highlights all the different connections between chapters in the book, helps you follow the timeline (Infinite Jest is not written linearly, and doesn't always make it clear when a scene is occurring), and does a great analysis of the themes, motifs and relationships. If greatly improved my appreciation of Infinite [...]

    21. After getting 200 pages into Infinite Jest, I started reading this guide to help frame the chaos of the first chapter or two. To that end, "Elegant Complexity" succeeds: it helps to frame themes, characters, references to previous pages, and so on. In addition, it has a chronology, major character outlines, and helps to visualize how the ETA is laid out.I cannot compare it to other companions, but I gave this 3 stars because the writing is fairly cut and dry with little personality in it. Theref [...]

    22. "Anything that inspires addiction or obsession - substances, entertainment, beauty, secrecy - is dangerous in that it can lead to isolation, self-absorption, and disconnection, to paralyzed stasis: an immobility that gathers like a force.""Our ability to connect with other people is compromised by our inclination to self-obsession and self-absorption. We are all on some level dreamers, addicts, and deceivers: vulnerable to our compulsive tendencies."

    23. A lovely, tentative treatment of IJ. Highly recommended for any hardcore DFW fans.What I appreciate most is that it's not too authoritative, the author leaves room for interpretation and does not pretend to know what DFW was thinking. It has limitations (some themes are covered superficially) but is very accessible and a good companion to Infinite jest.

    24. Pretty much what you'd expect. It's a good guide for inattentive readers or, like, students if you're teaching Infinite Jest, but doesn't deliver on being a study of IJ. The chronology is nice, though, and clearly a lot of attention and care went into this. It's by no means bad, just pretty useless to attentive readers of Infinite Jest.

    25. Whew! Finally finished this. Great comprehensive guide which makes connections back and forth, brings out the symbolism and the mirroring of ETA and Ennet House. Repetitive at times in that Infinite Jest is itself quite repetitive, and indeed, this question of what is missing from IJ I wish had been answered better- but otherwise, everything in IJ is made so much clearer :-)

    26. I found it to be helpful while reading IJ, especially if I'd gone a few days between reading the novel. It helped to draw my eye towards key themes and motifs from the start and also helped to keep track of certain characters and events. It's not perfect or indispensable, but if you're serious about reading IJ, I will highly recommend you read it alongside the novel.

    27. I owe Carlisle having been able to get me through parts of IJ where I got stuck . As I am not a native speaker of English, I lost my way quiet a few times. However the interpretation at the end disappointed me a bit, I wod have liked it to go a bit deeper.

    28. Excellent insight, very informative. Fluid analysis of recurring themes, and a neat conclusion of themes. Kind of sloppy maybe 3/4 through, wish there was more. I wish Greg Carlisle was magical and would answer the unanswerable questions.

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