This article reverses the central question animating the scholarship surrounding Cormac McCarthy's literary influences to reveal the complex ways in which McCarthy himself has influenced later novelists. Examining David Foster Wallace's fiction as an instructive case study, it shows how McCarthy's influence on a later generation of American writers might be explored. After tracing Wallace's myriad references and allusions to McCarthy's fiction, the article explores the many ways in which Wallace's work registers the influence of McCarthy, suggesting that during the first phase of his career, Wallace's appropriation hinged on both pastoral lyricism and moral gravity. In the second phase, Wallace's relationship to the older writer became increasingly ambivalent and confrontational, and the article traces the considerable lengths he went to in order to extricate himself from what had become an overly constrictive influence.

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