The archive also corrects Wallace’s reputation as one of the most abstruse of writers. Wallace’s notes to himself in Tolstoy’s essay “What Is Art?” strip back layers of received critical opinion and show a writer who is eager, above all, to connect. When Tolstoy throws down his decisive thunderbolt against art for aesthetics’ sake—“it is upon this capacity of man to receive another man’s expression of feeling and experience those feelings himself, that the activity of art is based”—Wallace underlines it emphatically, adding “Art as Empathy” in the margin (while the 9-year-old nods, somewhere, inside).
Saturday, December 04, 2010
The well-read DFW: