Il ritratto e la scopa. Riscrittura di Henry James nel romanzo di esordio di David Foster Wallace


  • Daniele Giovannone



Although David Foster Wallace may be the most famous writer of his generation, his first works have been surprisingly neglected by scholars. This study attempts to cast a new light on Wallace's first novel by arguing that it may be a rewriting of The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James' masterpiece. The two novels share many similarities: the more evident of them concern characters and plot elements, but the more meaningful instances can be found in the way they treat the key concepts of reification and human contact. After commenting on Wallace's frequent use of rewriting at the time wrote the novel, the paper employs two main approaches to try to explain the link between the two novels. First, the two authors are linked through a historical analysis where they are portrayed, respectively, as the most prominent ancestor and the latest fruit of the modernist/post-modernist branch of American literature. In the second half, the paper treats the moral implications of the novels, which are linked through the thinking of Martha Nussbaum and her idea of morality. Through this analysis, two authors usually seen mostly as innovators of style reveal their deep interest in a morally engaged literature.