Beneath the simple surface of DeWitt’s propositions . . . lurks a vast ambition: an ambition that privileges form over fact and inquiry over knowledge. Like the early Wittgenstein, DeWitt wants to clear away the confusions that arise from the sloppy use of language, and like the later Wittgenstein, she wants to run against the boundaries of language and to gesture at what lies beyond them. The result is a peculiar tension between precision and disorder. That DeWitt sustains it for more than 500 pages is as much an ethical statement as an aesthetic one.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
A peculiar tension between precision and disorder
Incidentally, speaking of Open Letters Monthly, as a few others have pointed out, Garth Risk Hallberg has a nice piece there about Helen DeWitt's excellent novel, The Last Samurai, one of my favorite novels. A brief sample: