David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest is one of the most ambitious American novels of the last decade. Its huge scope, its immense array of characters, and Wallace's artful mastery of language make it a complex and sometimes difficult text that has frequently been compared with other works of magnitude such as Ulysses and Gravity's Rainbow.
This study is an attempt to provide the reader of Wallace's novel with one (of many) possible threads which might lead him through the textual labyrinth of Infinite Jest. It is concerned with the issues of narcissism, addiction, depression, and despair and interprets the novel within an Existentialist framework drawn from the philosophical works of Jean-Paul Sartre and Søren Kierkegaard. It analyzes Wallace's portrayal of contemporary existence inside a society that, paradoxically, entraps the individual self exactly by exposing it to an unprecedented state of freedom. Furthermore, this study discusses the counter-proposals which Wallace weighs against postmodern culture. Infinite Jest is thus set in relation to Postmodern literature, and the similarities as well as the differences between this literary period and Infinite Jest are illuminated.