Reality versus fiction


Paul Auster’s novel City of Glass also deals with the theme of reality versus fiction and imagination. Throughout the novel, both readers and characters find it hard to determine what is real and what isn’t. 

At the beginning of the novel, Quinn is reading Marco Polo, who claims that “ ‘We will set down things seen as seen, things heard as heard, so that our book may be an accurate record, free from any sort of fabrication.’ ” (Chapter 1, 38%). This is echoed later on in the novel, when we are assured that everything about Quinn’s experienced is based on facts and that the author tries “to resist at all costs the perils of invention” (Chapter 12, 0%). The importance of telling the truth, of not giving in to imagining things, is therefore stressed in the story.

This sentiment is echoed in the conversation between Quinn and Auster. Auster points out that the Stillman case is “ ‘a real case with real people’ ” (Chapter 10, 96%). This serves to remind the reader that the experiences are to be taken seriously, that they are real.

However, Auster also talks about his essay on Don Quixote, which highlights the blurred lines between truth and fiction in the novel. Don Quixote was wr...

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