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Literature & Language
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English (U.S.)
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Report on Postmodernism features in City of Glass by Auster (Book Report Sample)

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The task was to write a book report making use of five sources and mla style to give a detailed report on the various POSTMODERNISM ASPECTS PRESENT IN LITERAL WORKS.

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Postmodernism features in City of Glass by Auster
Postmodernism as a literary style emerged in America in the early 1960s. In its simplest description, postmodernism is a theory that implies after modernity. The definition of modernity excites many debates and controversies that are not the focus of this paper. However, an introductory description of the theory as it applies to literature and the world in general will help the reader understand the discourse taken by this paper. Notably, the evaluation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass novel masterpiece will aid the reader to understand what postmodernism entails in the literature world. Paul’sCity of Glass novel has featured in many postmodernism reviews as the epitome of the style that symbolized the arrival of a new era in literary writing.
Development of Postmodernism
Postmodernism can be described as a movement away from the modernist view of the world. Contemporarily, the theory of postmodernism concerns itself with the conflicts inherent in objective truth and the accompanying suspicion toward meta-narrative. Believers in postmodernism tend to believe that possibly all realities are only social constructs that change according to place and time. Therefore, the human reason is considered the best approach to deciphering the truths about the physical and social conditions of the world. Consequently, postmodernism holds certain tenets ideal. These tenets include the role of language, motivation, and power relations. Imperatively, several approaches have been developed to be employed by fans of the postmodernism theory. First, language and textual content are considered the fundamental phenomena of existence. Secondly, majority of the worldly phenomena ought to be subjected to literary analysis. Third, reality and representation should be repeatedly questioned lest they become fallacies. Fourth, a critique of metanarratives is mandatory. Fifth, method and evaluations should be subject to argumentative discourse. Sixth, power and hegemony should undergo a strict analysis. Lastly, the Western institutions and knowledge should be routinely critiqued. Coincidentally, literature purporting to espouse postmodernism characteristically critique sharp societal classifications that include dichotomies such as white against black, male against female, and gay versus straight among others. These literary works emphasize that the apparent realities are plural and relative to the individual perceiving them. Notably, the interests of the individual will determine the reality that will manifest in their perception. Michael Foucault, a French philosopher, is considered one of the few modern philosophers that advocated the perpetuation of postmodernism in the society. His famous works included critiques of the contemporary world. According to Michael Foucault, the everyday engagement of people defines their identities and their systemization of knowledge. Therefore, human history is but many layers of subjective and the unconscious knowledge that people have opted to accept. Beneath the layers are assumptions and codes of order that create structures that exclude and legitimize episteme in the society. Consequently, the socially accepted “realities” that the society accepted as the absolute truth was control mechanisms to regulate social hierarchies and structures. Foucault’s arguments asserted that social practice, rationality, and “bio power” are inseparable and determine each other. One of his most monumental arguments that was incorporated into the language styles used in the postmodernism movement in literature was that language is oppressive. In other words, Michael Foucault claims the use of language can be perverted to maintain the status quo. A typical example can include the use of language to render false or silent tendencies that might undermine the social hierarchies and structures. Interestingly, these social hierarchies and structures can pretend to be championing liberation, freedom, or valuing minority groups but their true intentions are provided a smoke screen by crafty use of language.
Thoughts such as those of Michael Foucault led writers fond of postmodernism to develop distinct writing styles that employ several literary devices. These literary devices include metafiction, pastiche, multiple identities, and the detective form of narration. All the literary devices mentioned tackle the conflicts regarding truth and identities. In particular, language as a tool that humanity uses to understand the world is questioned by these styles.
Metafiction is a literary device that authors use to create the “self-conscious fiction.” Here, the characters and the narrative in the literature are full of several layers of reality and identity. The characters in a narrative often try to define their identity because the previous identities have been doubted. Therefore, the characters appropriate different identities as they attempt to find the truth about themselves.
Another prominent feature evident in the postmodernism literature is pastiche. This literary device allows authors to produce works of writing that are full of parts of the works of other authors or imitations of the style of other authors. For example, Paul Auster’s City of Glass resembles a detective fiction in the initial stages yet a reader progressing further into the novel discovers that it is an anti-detective novel. In this case, the appearance of the novel as a “detective fiction” is because postmodernism has allowed Paul Auster to copy the styles of other authors who are experts in detective fictions. The concept of anti-detective fiction gets a suitable explanation from Ryan Bishop (2002). Ryan asserts that anti-detective fiction style questions reality by leading the reader to presume that the literature one is reading is a classical detective narrative that eventually concludes with an exposition of the truth. However, the reader realizes later in the course of reading many chapters of the literature that the exposition of the truth will remain a dream or fantasy. An analysis of the conceptualization, and development of detective fiction reveals a particular formula that has become familiar to the readers of these kinds of fictions. According to Lyotard (1984), the fixed formula of the detective fictions serves to bestow a level of legitimacy to particular societal institutions like the police and law enforcement agencies. A prominent style evident in detective fictions is the linear sequence and logical notion of narrative progression that guides the readers toward an anticipated end. Therefore, the narrative has to be meaningful to the reader if interest in the fiction is to be sustained.
On the contrary, the anti-detective fiction approach of the postmodernism literature subjects the reader into a critical analysis of the protagonist’s activities in the narrative. Rather than believing the dominant character of the protagonist that is evident in the text and is related to the detective work, the author’s use of different identities altersthe reader’s perception of the protagonist. Every time the protagonist changes identity the reader acquires a different perception of the character and the events unfolding in the narrative. Elusiveness and complexity are the hallmarks of anti-detective fiction as the seemingly straight-forward protagonist on the path to uncovering universal truths becomes deceptive and mysteriously possess double identities. Anti-detective fiction always appears to want to prove one thing – reality is more complex than fiction. Unlike fiction where truths are imagined and held onto for the peace of mind of a person, reality is full of chaos, circumstances, and problems that cannot be solved. Because postmodernism holds the view that truths are relative to a person’s beliefs, circumstances, and personality, the authors of anti-detective fiction avoid falling into the same trap that they criticize. Therefore, instead of providing the readers with a solution, the authors provide nothing by introducing the chaos and confusion that is inherent in the real world. Therefore, the readers are leftalone to challenge their worldview according to the changing identities of the protagonists and the characters in the narrative. Consequently, it is the reader’s discretion to decide which identity of the characters in the narratives will be accepted as the truth. Conclusively, the goal of postmodernism in employing metafiction and pistachio is to upset the societal truths. Although these concepts might seem novel to a reader unfamiliar with how postmodernism authors apply them, an examination of Paul Auster’ City of Glass will provide adequate and appropriate examples.
How the City of Glass represents postmodernism literature
Paul Auster’s first novel happens to be the City of Glass that was first published in the year 1985. The novel was received with many criticisms that lauded the novel’s exceptional use of the concept of postmodernism to refine the literary world. Subsequently, the novel has been translated intoseventeen different languages in addition to being number one choice in teaching postmodernism in schools all over the world. Paul Auster’s The New Trilogy is the author’s compilation of three novels that are considered the best. The New Trilogy includes the City of Glass as the introductory novel. The uniqueness of theCity of Glass is evident in the novel’s complex use of the cityscape to subtly provoke the reader to perform the deciphering of the city’s objects that function as linguistic codes. This novel has all the characteristics of postmodernism with all the literary devices like the pastiche, intertextuality, parody, irony, temporal distortions, and l...
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