Peacock, JH (2020) Self-Dispersal and Self-Help: Paul Auster's Second Person. Critique - Studies in Contemporary Fiction. ISSN 0011-1619

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This article analyzes Auster’s employment of the second person in his twenty-first-century prose texts – Invisible, Sunset Park, Winter Journal and Report from the Interior – in order to challenge familiar humanistic readings of his work. Using theories of second-person narration, these texts are read with reference to other works that use the second-person, including Ben Lerner’s 10:04, to argue that they can be seen to offer a vision of selfhood commensurate with neoliberal ideals of self-reliance and self-reinvention. Understanding these recent texts in this way, it is argued, demands a reappraisal of Auster’s oeuvre: the traditional readings of his work as describing a never-ending struggle to meet the other, to escape isolation, must stand alongside an alternative reading of his work which emphasizes a continual restaging of individual authority. Thus, the article makes an important intervention in discussions of Auster’s work, as well as making claims about the ethics and politics of literary form with wider implications for the contemporary moment.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this article and all relevant information related to it, including copyrights, can be found on the publishers website at;
Uncontrolled Keywords: contemporary fiction, Paul Auster, second-person writing
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2020 10:25
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2022 01:30

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