Configuration of the Self-Mythology and Identity of Female Characters in Paul Auster’s In the Country of Last Things and The New York Trilogy

Mohammad Amin Shirkhani


The works of American novelist Paul Auster (1947- ) are uniquely concerned with the mythology of self, metanarrative and the role gender plays in these transactions. In his earliest works, The New York Trilogy (1985-1986) and In the Country of Last Things (1987), Auster uses genre conventions and styles (for the former, detective novels; for the latter, dystopian fiction) to interrogate these preconceptions of self-mythology and the role of gender within these genres, subverting tropes and traits of these works to comment upon them. In the following, we investigate these works in depth along these themes, conducting a close textual analysis from the framework of Freudian and Lacanian theories of psychoanalysis and poststructuralism. By investigating the roles of women in The New York Trilogy and In the Country of Last Things, we hope to illuminate Auster’s uniquely postmodernist, deconstructive approach to the psychological imperatives women are socialized into within American society, and how they are informed by narrative and mythology. The role of women, from the absent trophies of The New York Trilogy to the central voice of sanity of Anna in In the Country of Last Things, posits women as a societal superego whose goal it is to keep the destructive, nihilistic id-like impulses of men in check. 


Paul Auster, self-mythology, psychoanalysis, post-structuralism, gender studies

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