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David Foster Wallace's  The Pale King

David Foster Wallace's archive resides at the Harry Ransom Center. In partnership with Little, Brown and Company the Ransom Center is pleased to offer a preview of materials from the archive related to Wallace's posthumous novel, The Pale King, which will be published by Little, Brown and Company on April 15, 2011. Displayed here are a series of drafts of the "Author's Foreword," which eventually became chapter nine of the book. Wallace's longtime editor, Michael Pietsch, discusses these pages and the publication of the novel in the "Editor's Note" below.

Workbook

Editor's Note by Michael Pietsch

In 2006, ten years after the publication of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, Little, Brown made plans to release an anniversary edition of that glorious novel. Celebrations were set up at bookstores in New York and Los Angeles, but as the events neared, David demurred about attending. I telephoned to try to persuade him. "You know I'll come if you insist," he said. "But please don't. I'm deep into something long, and it's hard for me to get back into it when I'm pulled away."

"Something long" and "a long thing" were the terms David used to talk about the novel he'd been writing in the years since Infinite Jest. He published many books in those years—story collections in 1999 and 2004 and gatherings of essays in 1997 and 2005. But the question of a new novel loomed, and David was uncomfortable speaking about it. Once when I pressed him, he described working on the new novel as like wrestling sheets of balsa wood in a high wind. From his literary agent, Bonnie Nadell, I heard occasional reports: David was taking accounting classes as research for the novel. It was set at an IRS tax return processing center. I had had the enormous honor of working with David as his editor on Infinite Jest, and had seen the worlds he'd conjured out of a tennis academy and a rehab center. If anyone could make taxes interesting, I figured, it was him.  Read the full Editor's Note

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The Pale King, Chapter 9
"Author's Foreword"

Draft 1: Wallace's workbook

Draft 2: Handwritten draft

Draft 3: Handwritten draft

Draft 4: Typed, with Wallace's edits

Draft 5: Typed, with Wallace's edits

Draft 6: Final draft

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