Paul Auster is an American author who was born in 1947. He is the bestselling author of a wide number of books and although he is immensely popular in America, he is even more popular with his European fans.
By many critics, Auster is considered one of America's greatest living novelists - and he is also one of the central exponents of postmodern literature.
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Paul Auster writes extensively about themes such as fathers and sons, chance and fate, reality and fiction, the writer and the detective and New York and America. His texts often deal with questions of identity and the characters are often isolated writers, artists or people on skid row.
A few important terms in connection with Paul Auster are:
The voyeur is an observer, someone who looks at somebody else. In Auster's philosophy, the writer is often a kind of voyeur in that he looks at people in order to describe them. He is a kind of God. The reader is another kind of voyeur - as is the detective.
The flaneur is a person who walks (or moves by other means) not in order to be transported from a specific place to another place - but in order to look into himself and gain self-knowledge. To a flaneur, the journey is a mental journey into himself more than it is a means of transportation.
Frame stories are stories that have stories within the story. The layer of the story that connects the embedded stories is known as the "frame". Frame stories are closely related to core ideas in postmodernism; specifically the idea that everything is of equal importance.
Name symbolism is when a character's name is somehow symbolic of his nature. Auster's characters often have symbolic names that indictate what kinds of characters they are. Auster's use of name symbolism is often very visible, and the characters often reflect upon their own names and the fact that they are symbolic. This may be called explicit name symbolism.
Intertextual references are references to other works of fiction and/or other "texts". Auster's characters often read and/or quote other works of art - and these works of art often express something thematic in the Auster text they are quoted in or the character who quotes them.
Metafiction is a type of fiction that deals with writers, readers or the art of fiction. A metafictional story often reveals the fact that it is fictional - and thus it forces the reader to return to reality. It breaks the illusion that the fictional world is "real", so to speak, and it forces us to think about how we experience fictional stories.
Paradoxes are statements that contradict themselves. Auster is fond of paradoxes because they seem to embody the idea that the world is complex. Paradoxes are closely related to core ideas in postmodernism.