Man in the Dark by Paul Auster - review by Alan Rafferty

Alan Rafferty

Brick Vs Brill

Man in the Dark

By

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In the early Nineties Paul Auster staged a literary kidnapping or – the phrase he prefers – a ‘trans-fictional marriage’. He took a character from a novel by his wife, Siri Hustvedt, and wedded her to the protagonist of his then-inchoate book Leviathan. Much might be read into this about the relationship between the two writers. Although Hustvedt is well regarded, Auster is more highly acclaimed and sells more books; many readers of both assumed that Hustvedt had borrowed Auster’s character – that her work was derivative of his. However, what might seem to be literary bullying was, in Hustvedt’s view, anything but. She has explained that ‘I always thought it was nice that she ended up in another book, actually doing quite well. I had that nice feeling that Paul had saved her.’

Hustvedt might also have pointed out that when Auster borrowed her creation he was indulging one of his chief literary habits – switching people in and out of different stories. In previous novels Auster has borrowed figures from Poe, Hawthorne and, most often, his own oeuvre. But what he enjoys

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