Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Every Book A Solitude

From Paul Auster's The Invention of Solitude:

"Every book is an image of solitude. It is a tangible object that one can pick up, put down, open, and close, and its words represent many months, if not years, of one man's solitude, so that with each word one reads in a book one might say to himself that he is confronting a particle of that solitude. A man sits alone in a room and writes. Whether the book speaks of loneliness and companionship, it is necessarily a product of solitude. A. sits down in his own room to translate another man's book, and it is though he were entering that man's solitude and making it his own. But surely that is impossible. For once a solitude has been breached, once a solitude has been taken on by another, it is no longer solitude, but a kind of companionship."

Auster's book itself is very much an image of solitude, and a powerful examination of grief and life, writing and art and fatherhood. It is at bottom a search for meaning--even if in his "braver moments [he] embraces meaninglessness as the first principle"--and for truth, and for story.

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