March 4th, 2011 / 7:02 pm

The Pale King Changes

Today at Conversational Reading, Scott Esposito linked to a Google document that showed differences between the recent David Foster Wallace excerpt in The New Yorker titled “Backbone” and a transcription of Wallace reading the same piece in 2000, what Wallace then called ‘a fragment of a longer thing.’

Esposito writes:

It’s common knowledge now that Wallace did not get close to finishing The Pale King, and that the book that will be published on April 15 represents a heavily edited and stitched together version of what Wallace left behind. Clearly, this book has been made to serve the many readers out there who would like to see a completed, standardized version of The Pale King.

For more, go to the full post.

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  1. Anonymous

      Nice. Thank you for this.

  2. Gguyg

  3. Sean

      What’s that? The flap of vulture wings?

  4. eric

      Kinder than the crack of the spine of the taxidermist’s gospel opening.

  5. Anonymous

  6. Collideorscape

      I’m not sure I understand why it is that he couldn’t have made the changes himself in the eight years between the reading and his death.

      Also, the referenced article post makes the point (one I think is alluded to in the comments above) that this is purely for profit and being done instead of some kind of complete and thorough facsimile of every scrap in any way attached to the manuscript ever. I disagree. I think that edition is coming sometime in the next ten years. It’s just that fewer people will be interested. Try “The Last Tycoon.” It’s not finished buy it’s very good and kind of bittersweet.

  7. memples is waiting by the door

      posts not about unreadable L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets or common sense writing decisions not allowed

  8. Michael

      Exactly my reaction. More like, what we see in this Google Document is a vision of what The Pale King might have looked like had Wallace not edited it at all in the decade after that reading. This document might offer some insight into Wallace’s own process of editing and revision, but it definitely doesn’t speak to the extent to which the manuscript was edited for publication.

      Personally, I can’t wait for The Original of Laura-style edition of The Pale King.