Document Type : Original Article


1 Faculty Member/ ACECR Institute of Higher Education

2 Faculty of Foreign Languages/ University of Isfahan/Iran


Introduction: By the advent of late twentieth century many experts and critics stated that the novel has experienced “an aesthetic sea change”, one affected by an inherent “desire to reconnect language to the social sphere” (McLaughlin 54). Dubbed as “Post-postmodern”, the new novels’ emphasize an engagement with the social world is perhaps something that promotes a more direct political engagement. This essay explores the literary representation of the spatial, temporal, and subjective relationships between the individual and a society increasingly dominated by the proliferation of reproducible images and spectacles. To this end, Franco Bifo Berardi's anatomization of what he knows as the latest phase of neoliberal-capitalist system or "semiocapitalism" would be used as the central theoretical framework in an attempt to answer the following questions: What does a return to social engagement mean for fiction as presented in the novels of David Foster Wallace? What the modality of the critique is in post-postmodern fiction as conceived of in the work of Wallace?
Background of Study: Along with other thinkers such as Christian Marazzi and Antonio Negri Berardi has conceptualized the relation between language and the economy and described the "subsumption" and the submission of the biopolitical sphere of affection and language to financial capitalism. However, Berardi opts to look for a way to resist capitalism, to achieve autonomy and tries to do that from the unusual perspective of literature. This critical perspective has been adopted in this article to reveal its implications in more depth when applied to a selected number of David Foster Wallace’s fiction and can be viewed as a new step in the interpretation of the post-postmodern novels. 
Methodology: This essay scrutinizes the post-postmodern novel – as the emanation of language – as a suitable tool to combat semiocapitalism and to construct a strong social fabric that would affect personal and collective consciousness, consequently helping the emergence of social and political change. The focus is also on defining the formal and thematic elements of post-postmodern literature with emphasis on how the structures of such texts contribute to the critique of capitalism by compelling reader participation and response.
Conclusion: Post-postmodern novelists like Wallace often write huge, informationally savvy, and erudite novels asserting that in the age of semiocapitalism and proliferation of information there is more to incorporate, discuss and debate in fiction. Post-postmodern fiction focuses on the explorations of knowledge and information and the power, even the necessity, of narrative to help us order that information and to achieve the task of meaningfully staying informed in an otherwise meaningless info-saturated semiocapitalist condition. Consequently, by deeply scrutinizing the post-postmodern novels’ narrative and formal structure, it is concluded that these works are inherently oppositional to the contemporary socio-political system. The subject is also scrutinized from a different point of view: the incompatibility between economy and aesthetics. It is argued that aesthetics and political economy stand in a characteristic relationship with each other since it is utterly impossible to reduce the former into the latter.  While the contemporary economy is all about abstraction, aesthetics is all about the concrete experience of the sensitive mind. Post-postmodern fiction as a new manifestation of aesthetics with its rejection of unrealistic plots and descriptions is read as an attempt to help us achieve a concrete experience of the “real” world as an accentuation of fiction’s social impact or a line of escape from an all-pervasive abstract semiocapital context. 


Andersen, Tore Rye. “Pay Attention! David Foster Wallace and his Real Enemies”. English 
Studies, 95, 1, (2014) 7–24.          
Berardi, Franco. After the Future. Baltimore: AK Press, 2011.
--- And. Phenomenology of the End. Helsinki: Aalto University Publication, 2014.    
---“The Paradox of Media Activism: The Net is Not a Tool, It's an Environment”. Sep. 21, 2020.   
--- Precarious Rhapsody, Semio-capitalism and the Pathologies of the Post- Alpha Generation. London: Minor Compositions, 2009. 
--- The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/Intervention Series, 2012.
Bukiet, Melvin Jules. “Crackpot Realism: Fiction for the Forthcoming Millennium”. Review of Contemporary Fiction, 16, 1 (1996) 13-22.
Burn, Stephen J. Jonathan Franzen at the End of Postmodernism. Continuum, 2008.
DeLillo, Don. Underworld. New York: Scribner, 2003. 
Fleissner, Jennifer L. Women, Compulsion, Modernity: The Moment of American Naturalism. Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 2004. 
Giles, Paul. “Sentimental Post-humanism: David Foster Wallace”. Twentieth Century Literature, 53, 3, After Postmodernism: Form and History in Contemporary American Fiction (Fall 2007), Duke University Press, 327-344.  
Holland, Marry K. Succeeding Postmodernism: Language and Humanism in Contemporary American Literature. Bloomsbury, 2013.
Jameson, Fredric. The Political Unconscious, Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act. USA: Cornell University Press, 1984. 
Kelly, Adam. “David Foster Wallace: The Death of the Author and the Birth of a Discipline”.  Irish Journal of American Studies, 2, April 2010. Accessed Feb. 7, 2021.  
LeClair, Tom. In The Loop: Don DeLillo and the Systems Novel. University of Illinois Press, 1987. 
Letzler, David. “Encyclopedic Novels and the Cruft of Fiction: Infinite Jest’s Endnotes”. Studies in the Novel, 44, 3 (Fall 2012), 304-324.
Lukács, Georg. “Narrate or Describe?” Writer & Critic and Other Essays (1936). Arthur D.  Kahn, ed. New York: Grosset & Dunlap,1975, 110–48. 
Luxemburg, Rosa. The Accumulation of Capital. New York: Routledge, 2003.  
Maynes-Aminzadeh, Liz. “The Omnicompetent Narrator from George Eliot to Jonathan Franzen”. Studies in the Novel, 46, 2 (Summer 2014), 236-253.
McCaffery, Larry. “An Interview with David Foster Wallace”. In The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 13, 2 (Summer 1993), 127-50.
--- “An Expanded Interview with David Foster Wallace”. Conversations with David Foster Wallace. Stephen J. Burn, ed., University Press of Mississippi, 2012: 21-53
McLaughlin, Robert L. “Post-Postmodern Discontent: Contemporary Fiction and the Social World”. Symploke, 12, 1/2 (2004), 53-68.
Moraro, Christian. Cosmodernism, American Narrative, Late Globalization, and the New Cultural Imaginary. The University of Michigan Press, 2011. 
Shechner, Mark. “Behind the Watchful Eyes of Author David Foster Wallace”. Conversations with David Foster Wallace. Stephen J. Burn, ed., University Press of Mississippi, 2012: 104-109
Wallace, David Foster. “Deciderization 2007—a Special Report”. Both Flesh and Not: Essays. New York/Boston/London: Little, Brown and Company, 2014, 308-320 
--- “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction”, In Review of Contemporary Fiction, 13, 2 (Summer 1993), 151-194.  
--- Infinite Jest.  New York: Little, Brown, 1996.
--- The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel. UK: Penguin, 2011.   
Wilson, Timothy D. Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious. USA: Harvard University Press, 2004. 
Wolfe, Tom. “Stalking the Billion-footed Beast: A Literary Manifesto for the New Social Novel”. Harper's Magazine, (Nov. 1989), 45-56.
Wood, James. The Irresponsible Self: On Laughter and the Novel. Pimlico, 2005.  
--- “‘The Digressionist.’ Rev. of Oblivion, by David Foster Wallace”. The New Republic (Aug 19, 2004). Accessed Nov. 15, 2021. 
--- “Tell Me How Does It Feel”. The Guardian (October 6 2001). Accessed August 9, 2021.