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Paul Auster’s stories are fraught with melancholia in that they are filled with unrelenting loss and remorselessness. The term melancholia means that a there is a denial of and a refusal to deal with loss; instead the feelings are repressed and internalized.
In The Book of Illusions, a man endures the death of his entire family, his wife and two children, in an airplane crash. It looks at the aftermath as he experiences the associated grief. It details how watching a television show ultimately allows Paul Zimmer, the main character, to grieve. The book Oracle Night details how a man loses his place in world while in Travels in the Scriptorium, the main character loses his sense of history and memory. In all three books there is a perverse sense of loss leading to melancholia.
Auster’s post 9/11 novel, Man in the Dark, chronicles the experiences that August Brill endures when he sleeplessly struggles with the death of his wife, and the murder of his granddaughter’s boyfriend in a country at war with Iraq after the Twin Towers are destroyed.
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