By David Markson
Publication Date: 7/11/23
Wittgenstein's Mistress is a novel unlike anything David Markson or anyone else has ever written before. It is the story of a woman who is convinced and, astonishingly, will ultimately convince the reader as well that she is the only person left on earth.
Presumably she is mad. And yet so appealing is her character, and so witty and seductive her narrative voice, that we will follow her hypnotically as she unloads the intellectual baggage of a lifetime in a series of irreverent meditations on everything and everybody from Brahms to sex to Heidegger to Helen of Troy. And as she contemplates aspects of the troubled past which have brought her to her present state—obviously a metaphor for ultimate loneliness—so too will her drama become one of the few certifiably original fictions of our time.
“The novel I liked best this year,” said the Washington Times upon the book’s publication; “one dizzying, delightful, funny passage after another . . . Wittgenstein’s Mistress gives proof positive that the experimental novel can produce high, pure works of imagination.”
“A work of genius . . . an erudite, breathtakingly cerebral novel whose prose is crystal and whose voice rivets and whose conclusion defies you not to cry.”—David Foster Wallace
“Brilliant and often hilarious . . . Markson is one working novelist I can think of who can claim affinities with Joyce, Gaddis, and Lowry, no less than with Beckett.”— San Francisco Review of Books
“Addresses formidable philosophic questions with tremendous wit . . . remarkable . . . a novel that can be parsed like a sentence; it is that well made.”— New York Times Book Review
“Beautifully conceived. An irresistible, captivating book!”—Walter Abish
“Beautifully realized. Initially as hypnotically calming as an afternoon snowfall, then, by stages as menacing and yet thrilling as a nocturnal blizzard. This is Markson in the post-Beckett Gaddis country, staking his own claim, in a territory nobody else has the courage or the strength to inhabit and survive in.”—James McCourt
“Provocative, learned, wacko, brilliant, and extravagantly comic. This is a nonesuch novel, a formidable work of art by a writer who kicks tradition out the window, then kicks the window out the window, letting a splendid new light into the room.”—William Kennedy
David Markson's novel Wittgenstein's Mistress was acclaimed by David Foster Wallace as "pretty much the high point of experimental fiction in this country." His other novels, including Reader's Block, Springer's Progress, and Vanishing Point, have expanded this high reputation. His novel The Ballad of Dingus Magee was made into the film Dirty Dingus Magee, which starred Frank Sinatra, and he is also the author of three crime novels. Born in Albany, New York, he lived in New York City until his death in 2010.