Disorientation and Detection: Paul Auster’s In The Country of Last Things

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Rhys William Tyers


Paul Auster, in his second novel, In the Country of Last Things, invites us into a dystopian vision of the future where Anna Blume, our protagonist, narrator and amateur sleuth, leaves her home to enter the country of last things to search for her missing brother. She searches this unfamiliar land for clues, but is met with uncertainty, confusion and failure. This paper will investigate Paul Auster’s novel In the Country of Last Things as a work of metaphysical detective fiction. It will do this by examining how Auster undermines classical detective tropes by employing elements of the metaphysical genre and, in doing so, highlights the strained and complex relationship we have with knowledge and knowing. The purpose of this analysis is to highlight the connection between the metaphysical detective genre and its influence on Auster’s novel. This study serves two purposes: (1) to explore the reasons why Auster has subverted some of the common detective genre tropes, (2) to investigate the effect of this subversion and how it influences how we read the narrative, and (3) to explore the implications of representing the world this way. The importance of this analysis is found in Auster’s warning about trying to read the postmodern world and the complexity and confusion we find when we do so. Thus, this analysis highlights Auster’s manipulation of detective fiction and points towards further research into the author’s use of this device in his later fiction.


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Tyers, R. W. (2021). Disorientation and Detection: Paul Auster’s In The Country of Last Things. Journal of Studies in the English Language, 16(1), 1-20. Retrieved from https://so04.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/jsel/article/view/244666
Research Articles


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