City of Glass


This study guide will help you analyze the novel City of Glass by Paul Auster. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Presentation of the text

Title: City of Glass (1985)
Author: Paul Auster
Genre: Novel

Paul Benjamin Auster (b. 1947) is an American writer, essayist, and film director. He was born in New Jersey to a Jewish family of Polish descent. His first published work is the memoir The Invention of Solitude (1982). In 1987, Auster published The New York Trilogy, which includes City of Glass. Other novels include The Book of Illusions (2002), Brooklyn Follies (2005), and 4321 (2017). Auster is considered a leading voice in postmodernist American literature. His work frequently tackles themes such as isolation and loss, and he often relies on intertextuality and metafiction. 

City of Glass (1985) is the first volume of The New York Trilogy, a series of loosely-connected novels which can be read individually. The first novel tells the story of the mystery writer Daniel Quinn, who is mistaken for a private detective, Paul Auster, and finds himself involved in a confusing case. Although the novel starts like a typical detective story and presents many of the characteristics of the genre, it also subverts the reader’s expectations, as we are offered no answer to the mysteries found in the plot. The novel deals with themes such as identity, reality versus fiction, coincidences, and isolation. There are strong elements of metafiction and intertextuality which make the novel one of the most well-known postmodernist works. 

City of Glass has been adapted into a graphic novel in 1994. It was published in 2004 under the title City of Glass: A Graphic Mystery. The novel was also adapted for the stage several times.

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City of Glass

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