Wittgenstein's Mistress (David Markson)

Article by Danielle

Even if you don’t love experimental literature - or don’t yet know if you do - I think you should challenge yourself and give WITTGENSTEIN’S MISTRESS a try. Markson’s novel was one of David Foster Wallace’s favorite books, which is what originally sparked my interest in it. I assumed that it might go over my head, since I’m not particularly well-versed in Western philosophy, but the book is beautiful and affecting even if you couldn’t care less about the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. The main character, Kate, is a middle-aged woman who, after the death of her young son, finds herself the last human on earth. The novel is the diary, told in thousands of fragments, of her long, meandering and ultimately fruitless search for other people, as well as her elliptical thoughts in the time since, which she has spent quietly on the shore. This isn’t a dystopian story - why Kate is alone on Earth is not explored on a literal level - but instead it makes literal the sense of isolation and despair that accompanies emotional trauma. The novel reads like something midway between fiction, philosophy, and poetry, but strangely it wasn’t a slow read for me at all. In fact, I devoured it in a mere twelve hours and have already circled back to read it a second time!

Staff Pick Logo
Wittgenstein's Mistress (American Literature (Dalkey Archive)) Cover Image
By David Markson, Steven Moore (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781564782113
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Dalkey Archive Press - May 1st, 1988

Article Type Terms: