Paul Auster has been described as one the most European of American writers. A best-selling author in the U.S., he has become a cultural icon in France. Considering that his novels are almost exclusively set in America and regularly feature intertextual references to American Renaissance literature and Transcendentalism, what specifically is it about Auster's work that allows us to qualify it as European or, more precisely, French? This book provides an answer by tracing the influence of French thought on the recurring themes of Paul Auster's novels. Its principal focus is Auster's narrativization of philosophical questions and concepts inherited from the 20th-century French writers and thinkers he has translated. Tom Theobald illustrates how the key themes of Paul Auster's work, such as chance, freedom, responsibility and the relationship between self and other, find their intellectual roots in Surrealism, in the existential phenomenology of Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as in the literary philosophy of Maurice Blanchot. Theobald's study is of particular interest to Auster scholars as well as anyone interested in the complex relationship between philosophy and literature.
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