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David Foster Wallace and His Philosophy Thesis

In December, Columbia University Press will publish David Foster Wallace‘s undergraduate philosophy thesis from Amherst. During his senior year, the aspiring author also finished a 500-page creative writing thesis that became his book, The Broom of the System.

Entitled Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will, the new book features an introduction by James Ryerson. In the introduction, Ryerson tells the story of how Wallace completed a massive creative writing thesis and philosophy thesis in a single year.

Here’s an excerpt: “Despite the heavy workload, Wallace managed to produce a first draft of the philosophy thesis well ahead of schedule, before winter break of his senior year, and he finished both theses early, submitting them before spring break. He spent the last month or so of the school year reading other students’ philosophy theses and offering advice … By the end of his tenure at Amherst, Wallace decided to commit himself to fiction, having concluded that, of the two enterprises, it allowed for a fuller expression of himself.”

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