On the Road to Nowhere
Chapter One: "You do not stop hungering for your father's love": The Invention of Solitude 17
CHAPTER ONE "You do not stop hungering for your father's love": The Invention of Solitude The Invention of Solitude, Auster's autobiographical work published in 1982, may be read as the map to his entire fictional work. It explores the major themes and metaphors which will come to characterize his poetic world: the quest for the father and the mystery of the self, chance as the principle governing human life, the dual nature of solitude, and the image of the locked room as a scene of death and rebirth. The composition of the book, Auster's first extensive prose work, 1 was triggered by his father's sudden death, and it consists of two sections. The first part, "Portrait of an Invisible Man," constitutes Auster's attempt to fathom the mystery of his father's self, capture it in writing and commit it to memory. The second part, "The Book of Memory," is a tortuous inquiry into his own self, in which he follows Rimbaud's dictum "Je est un autre" and objectifies himself through the use of the third person, thereby becoming both the perceiving subject and the perceived object. Here the pursuit of the private self gives way to psychological, epistemological and metafictional concerns which will haunt Auster's oeuvre-the role of memory in the construction of identity, the impossibility of knowledge, the inevitable failure built in the creative endeavor. Auster's autobiography thus foreshadows the two principal motifs which will become the hallmark of his poetic world: the quest and the mystery of the self....
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