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Paul Auster – Travels in the Scriptorium

I’ve just finished reading Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster. It continues with the characters first encountered in City of Glass. The hero is Mr. Blank and, like Daniel Quinn, he has identity issues. As in Auster’s other postmodern works there is an examination of time and space together with a meta-narrative. He uses the idea of labelling to consider the semiotics of language.

The writing, as one would expect from Auster, is outstanding. The structure of the text is that of a chapter, although he uses white space to break it up. The dialogue is carefully crafted and draws the reader into the stories within the text that make up the plot. As in City of Glass the story is a literary exploration and uses the idea of mystery to blur reality. Surveillance, confinement and the yearning for an outdoors life are themes that run throughout the text. He also considers the mechanics of writing and in the process explores point of view, structure and stoytelling.

This is a carefully crafted work that I highly recommend.

One Response to “Paul Auster – Travels in the Scriptorium”

  1. Glenn Robinson Says:

    Yes, I would agree with the above comments. Another aspect of this work that I would also like to highlight is the use of ‘imaginative reasoning’. It appears in other works of Auster, perhaps most successfully in Oracle Night. The creative ability to fill in the gaps…, not just in the processes of reading and writing but also in everyday life is extremely important. Auster seems to recognise that this has limited results however. Imaginative reasoning is not an epistemology but rather a more functional and useful ability that does not claim absolute knowledge or a God’s eye view. Such an ability is underdetermined and always open to revison but as such has an ethical component to it. It is more forgiving and empathatic and at moments sublime.

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