While it’s probably not a good idea to do this kind of thing while trying to finish a dissertation, I started readingThe Brothers Karamazovearlier this month. I’m still thinking about DT Max’s excellent bio of Wallace, and passages keep leaping out of the novel that suggest how deep an influence Dostoevsky really was on DFW’s fiction and thought. Perhaps that isn’t surprising to people better versed in Dostoevsky, but it is to me. Here’s one snippet that seems to state in capsule form one of the central dilemmas of Wallace’s writing (and his life, it seems):

With old liars who have been acting all their lives there are moments when they enter so completely into their part that they tremble of shed tears of emotion in earnest, although at that very moment, or a second later, they are able to whisper to themselves, “You know you are lying, you shameless old sinner! You’re acting now, in spite of your ‘holy’ wrath.”