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Author: Mark Brown

This book provides an extended analysis of Paul Auster's essays, poetry, fiction, films and collaborative projects. It explores his key themes of identity; language and writing; metropolitan living and community; and storytelling and illusion. By tracing how Auster's representations of New York and city life have matured from a position of urban nihilism to qualified optimism, the book shows how the variety of forms he works in influences the treatment of his central concerns. The chapters are organised around gradually extending spaces to reflect the way in which Auster's work broadens its focus, beginning with the poet's room and finishing with the global metropolis of New York: his home city and often his muse. The book uses Auster's published and unpublished literary essays to explain the shifts from the dense and introspective poems of the 1970s, through the metropolitan fictions of the 1980s and early 1990s, to the relatively optimistic and critically acclaimed films, and his return to fiction in recent years.

Mark Brown

Auster believes that stories help us to make sense of the world we live in, and that metropolitan stories help us to make sense of the metropolis. In Smoke and Blue in the Face, storytelling initiates and perpetuates a sense of community which is more than an introverted mode of metropolitan living. Instead, by acknowledging and negotiating the larger social processes that surround individual experience, Auster’s characters are better able to comprehend their place in the world, and so locate themselves more securely than characters in his earlier fictions. An

in Paul Auster
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Anne Wohlcke

Conclusion Festive spaces in cities are often sites at which urban identities and social or gender hierarchies are contested, but are also often reinforced. In ­eighteenth-century London, conflicting views of the best uses for London’s streets were frequently opposed, and the resulting debates reveal contemporary understandings of metropolitan living, social order, and gender hierarchies. From the late seventeenth century, London’s infrastructure was being ‘modernized’, or rebuilt, re-planned, and cleaned. This ‘cleaning campaign’ usually tied to the development

in The ‘perpetual fair’
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Mark Brown

themes in Auster’s work. Contemporary literature is often concerned with representations of the complexity and scale of living in this era of late capitalism and global culture, and so engages with the processes that allow New York to be at once isolated while belonging to the world. At the same time, Auster’s literature is centrally concerned with how we, as individuals, live collectively. In his early poetry, this is as much a question about society in general as it is about metropolitan living in particular. As the work develops and Auster turns increasingly to

in Paul Auster
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Thomas Almeroth-Williams

ambition of London’s equestrian culture in the late eighteenth century, but we still need to unpack what made Londoners so passionate about riding horses. Sociability was a driving force in polite metropolitan living and horses served this culture by maximising the number of visits, balls, plays, routs and dinners that an individual could attend in the season. But as I have suggested, horse riding was a sociable activity in its own right. Riding schools were not only temples to equestrian pleasure and perfection, they were refined resorts. Proprietors worked hard to

in City of beasts
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Mark Brown

art and science emerges that is helping to shape a debate on contemporary forms of metropolitan living. In imagining this possible future, Harvey employs the practices of fiction to illustrate the spatial possibilities proposed in the rational-empirical geographical text preceding it. He takes the premise of existing material social conditions, and ‘reimagines’ their potential for a more socially just society. In Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference and Spaces of Hope, Harvey identifies two types of utopian expression – the utopianism of process, and the

in Paul Auster
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The social imaginary of the London bog-house c.1660–c.1800
Mark Jenner

the room, and … put it down the privy’.99 In both cases the mother of the infant was found not guilty. Indeed a conflation of excretion and childbirth contributed to the growing acquittal rate in London infanticide trials during the long eighteenth century.100 As Samantha Williams has shown, almost exactly a third of the births described in Old Bailey accounts of such cases which specified the place of delivery occurred in a privy.101 In crowded metropolitan living conditions these spaces offered rare opportunities for temporary seclusion, and so mothers anxious to

in Bellies, bowels and entrails in the eighteenth century