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David Foster Wallace Archive Goes To U Texas

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AUSTIN, Texas — The archive of writer David Foster Wallace, best known for his 1996 novel "Infinite Jest," has been acquired by the Harry Ransom Center library and museum at the University of Texas, the center announced Monday.

Hailed as a visionary of his literary generation, Wallace suffered from depression and committed suicide in 2008 at age 46. His archive includes handwritten notes and drafts of "Infinite Jest" and other works, poems written as a child, his personal library and writings from college.

Material for Wallace's posthumous novel, "The Pale King," will remain with his publisher until after the book's scheduled release in 2011.

"He's one of the youngest writers represented in our collection, but clearly one of the greatest writers of his generation," said the Ransom Center's Megan Barnard, Deputy to the Director for Administration and Acquisitions. "We have really strong holdings in the generation ahead of him and he represents a new generation influenced by them."

Wallace's first novel, "The Broom of the System," gained national attention in 1987 for its ambition and offbeat humor. "Infinite Jest" cemented Wallace's reputation as a major American literary figure.

The archive includes the earliest appearance of the David Foster Wallace signature on "Viking Poem," written when he was six or seven years old. Known for his excellent vocabulary, Wallace also kept typed pages of lists of words and their meanings, Barnard said.

While the collection still is being catalogued, Barnard said she has seen nothing so far that explores or offers insight into the depths of Wallace's depression. But she noted he died while still working on "The Pale King" and the materials related to that book, set in an Internal Revenue Service office in Illinois in the 1980s, will come later.

The archive is expected to be available to researchers by this fall.


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