Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 560
Three novels comprise The New York Trilogy. In the first, City of Glass, the reader is introduced to the protagonist Daniel Quinn.
The author creates the impression of a play or a film script by using dialogue and a narrator who sometimes speaks in voice-over; the specific language resembles that of classic film noir. The author also raises multiple questions about identity and about the reliability of any narrator the reader might subsequently encounter.
In discussing a telephone call, it is the narrator who identifies the person answering as Daniel Quinn, but then says that he is a writer who uses the pseudonym William Wilson—in part because of how he felt about a dead part of himself. However, in the narrator's words, a larger question of this character's identity is also raised. The caller, identified as Peter Stillman, asks for neither Quinn nor Wilson, but for someone with the author's name:
The telephone ringing in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not . . . .
[W]e know that [Daniel Quinn] wrote mystery novels, under the name of William Wilson . . . . A part of him had died, and he did not want it coming back to haunt him
. . .
PETER STILLMAN: . . . (Barely audible) Is this Paul Auster? I would like to speak to Mr. Paul Auster.
William Wilson is the name of a character whom Edgar Allan Poe created, who must face his own alter ego. Both the complicated question of identity and the legacy of Poe's character are exacerbated when Quinn encounters Stillman on the street and immediately sees his double. Is this another person, or Stillman’s doppelgänger whom Quinn imagines?:
Directly behind Stillman, . . . another man stopped, took a lighter out of his pocket, and lit a cigarette. His face was the exact twin of Stillman's. For a second Quinn thought it was an illusion, a kind of aura thrown off by the electro-magnetic currents in Stillman's body. But no, this other Stillman moved, breathed, blinked his eyes; his actions were clearly independent of the first Stillman.
In Ghosts , characters with these names recur and some continue to insist they...
(The entire section contains 560 words.)
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