David Foster Wallace’s Undergraduate Thesis to Hit Shelves in 2011

By David Comment

app.jpegColumbia University Press announced recently that its fall catalog will include an unpublished book by David Foster Wallace. No, not The Pale King, which will be published by Little, Brown next year; it’s Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will.

The book (cover picture, via) is adapted from Wallace’s undergraduate thesis in Philosophy at Amherst, “Richard Taylor’s ‘Fatalism’ and the Semantics of Physical Modality.” According to an aside in a 2008 article about the paper in the New York Times Magazine, “The formal apparatus that Wallace developed in the thesis, a so-called intensional-physical-modality system, would have been a novel contribution to the philosophical literature; [his advisers] each expressed to me their regret that Wallace never published the paper.” The introduction to the book is by James Ryerson, who wrote that Times Magazine article.

The book will reproduce the Taylor essay, as well as a few other works to which Wallace refers. And it will have a companion website, www.davidfosterwallace-fate-time-language.net, which will include interviews with both philosophers and fans. Publication is set for January 2011, three months before The Pale King, the author’s real last work, hits shelves.