Lars Iyer’s Wittgenstein Jr (Book Acquired, 8.29.2014)


Lars Iyer’s latest is now available in hardback from Melville House. Iyer discussed the novel a bit with me when I interviewed him last year:

Wittgenstein Jr? A difficult novel to write, not least because it is my first attempt at pure fiction. I had the safeguard of basing it on the life of the real Wittgenstein, replaying it in a Cambridge University of the present. But I had to dream up characters, narrative incident, narrative colour… Above all, I had to find new rhythms of writing, which fit my version of Wittgenstein himself, and fit his students. Everything is about rhythm!

There’s high despair and low humour – a lot of humour. There’s romance. There’s paranoia. There’s utopianism: dreams of friendship, of politics, of meaning. There’s lyricism. There’s madness. There’s anti-Cambridge-dons invective. There’s dance. There are songs (all novels should have songs). There are long walks in the snow. Allusions to Paul, paraphrases of rabbinical commentaries on the Bible, quotes from Wallace Stevens, from Goethe, lines from Pretty Woman… Dramatic re-enactments of great philosophical deaths…

We could probably maybe add the novel to David Markson’s list from Vanishing Point:

7 thoughts on “Lars Iyer’s Wittgenstein Jr (Book Acquired, 8.29.2014)”

  1. Wittgenstein is rolling in his grave. This is a piece of juvenalia at best. Any writer over the age of 25 who is outfitting their fiction with Wittgenstein is a minor intellect.


  2. I finally got around to picking up and reading Spurious, then immediately picked up Dogma. I am packing for a trip, and already have five books four days, so I have choices, now I’m reconsidering and want to put Dogma in there…


  3. I’d be curious to have more information about this book since Wittgenstein is a major obsession. Does it get into the intricacies of his thinking, his speaking, his philosophy? Or is the book just capitalizing on the on-going interest people have in that brilliant, tortured and ultimately magnificent person? Using his image on a paperdoll cut out makes me uneasy, for starters . . . Seems like kindof a cheap shot.


    1. I haven’t gotten into it at all yet—still finishing up The Golden Notebook, have a heavy class load this semester, and am struggling through the newest Vollmann—but I do know that Lars had nothing to do with the cover—when I was looking for art for the interview he wasn’t even sure if the image was the official cover or anything.


    2. The novel doesn’t really go in depth into his philosophy as such, but it does make use of Wittgenstein’s style of talking (lots of the dialogue seems to be adaptations of the sort if things Wittgenstein would writw in his letters) and of doing philosophy.


      1. hey thanks. That’s v helpful. I’ll see if I can get my hands on a copy. I have 21 books on Wittgenstein — his writings, lecture notes from his students, recollections by people who knew him in Cambridge. My little joke is ‘I have a pointless crush on Ludwig Wittgenstein. One, he’s dead. Two, he was gay.’ I have a blog called ‘Why I Love Ludwig Wittgenstein’ too.


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