Consider the Lobster and Other Essays | Study Guide

David Foster Wallace

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Consider the Lobster and Other Essays | Key Figure Analysis


David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, on February 21, 1962. As a teenager he played tennis, and the experience inspired much of his fiction. Wallace began writing fiction in college and published his first novel after earning a master's in fine arts from the University of Arizona. Wallace took a teaching position at the University of Illinois in the early 1990s. During this time he wrote his breakout novel Infinite Jest. The story made Wallace one of the most well-known writers of the 1990s. In the following years, Wallace continued to write essays and short fiction. Unfortunately, his decades-long battle with depression resulted in his suicide in Claremont, California, on September 12, 2008.

John McCain

John McCain was born on August 29, 1936, on a U.S. military base near the Panama Canal. His father and grandfather were U.S. Navy admirals. He entered the United States Naval Academy as a teenager and later learned to fly fighter aircraft. On October 26, 1967, North Vietnamese forces shot down McCain's fighter aircraft. He received multiple injuries and was a prisoner of war in Hanoi, Vietnam, for the next five years. McCain returned to the U.S. in 1973 and continued his navy career before running for the U.S. House of Representatives. He then became a member of the U.S. Senate. McCain attempted to run for president twice, once in 2000 and then in 2008. In 2000 he did not receive the nomination, which went to Texas governor George W. Bush (b. 1946). Although he received his party's nomination in 2008, he lost the race to Illinois Senator Barack Obama (b. 1961). McCain died on August 25, 2018.

Tracy Austin

Tracy Austin was born on December 12, 1962, in Palos Verdes Peninsula, California. As a teenager, she won multiple titles and played in competitions all over the world. At only 18 she was the best female tennis player in the world. However, the sport took its toll on Austin's body. She stopped playing competitively in 1982 but played in a few professional matches in the following years. In 1992 she published her autobiography Beyond Center Court: My Story.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky was born in Moscow and took to literature as a child. He spent some of his childhood attending a French boarding school and served as a military engineer when he was a young man. Dostoevsky wrote his first novel when he was 24. His circle of literary friends got him in trouble, and he was charged for plotting against the Tsar, the Russian leader. He spent five years in prison in Siberia. After leaving prison Dostoevsky returned to writing. He wrote dozens of popular novels and short stories, but his gambling addiction caused financial ruin. Dostoevsky suffered various ailments throughout his life. He died of a hemorrhage on February 9th, 1881, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Joseph Frank

Joseph Frank was born in New York City, New York. He earned a Ph.D. in 1952 and worked as a comparative literature professor for the rest of his life. In the 1950s Frank began a project that would define his career. Over nearly 50 years he produced a five-volume, 2,400-page biography of Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–81). Many scholars regard Frank's biography as superior to any other, including those written in Russian.

John Updike

John Updike was born in Reading, Pennsylvania. He aspired to become a cartoonist but discovered writing in his teen years. By the time he was in his mid-20s, Updike was a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine and had published multiple volumes of poetry. Updike wrote dozens of novels throughout his long career, most notably the Rabbit novels between 1960 and 2001. The stories chronicle character Harry Angstrom's relationships with women and religion. These and other novels led to Updike winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice, along with numerous other awards.

Bryan A. Garner

Bryan A. Garner was born on November 17, 1958, in Lubbock, Texas. While at the University of Texas School of Law, he became the editor of the highly influential Texas Law Review. During this time Garner first became interested in lexicography, or writing dictionaries. He published his first law dictionary in 1987. In 1990 Garner stopped practicing law to found LawProse, Inc., a company that teaches lawyers and judges on law writing best practices. Garner published A Dictionary of Modern American Usage in 1998. The dictionary covers not only words' meanings but also writing style and pronunciation. Garner has updated the dictionary multiple times in the years since.

John Ziegler

John Ziegler was born to American parents in Heidelberg, West Germany. He graduated from Georgetown University in 1989. Ziegler started his media career as a television sportscaster. John has held multiple positions as a radio and television commentator throughout the United States. In 2005 Zeigler wrote his first nonfiction book. He wrote and directed his first film in 2008. Both are political in nature.

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka was born in Austria-Hungary, which is now the Czech Republic. As a young man, Kafka earned excellent grades and took on a position at an insurance company as his first profession. Kafka started publishing stories in 1908. Arguably, his most famous story is "The Metamorphosis" wherein a young man turns into a massive insect. However, Kafka was never famous in his lifetime. He was so despondent near his death that he told a friend to burn all of his unpublished work after he died.

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