The Invention of Solitude: A Memoir

ISBN: 0140106286
ISBN 13: 9780140106282
By: Paul Auster

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About this book

"Τη μια μέρα υπάρχει ζωή...και τότε, ξαφνικά, συμβαίνει, έρχεται ο θάνατος".’Ετσι αρχίζει "Η επινόηση της μοναξιάς". Ο συγκινητικός προσωπικός διαλογισμός του Πολ Όστερ σχετικά με την πατρότητα. Το πρώτο μέρος, "Η προσωπογραφία ενός αόρατου ανθρώπου", αποκαλύπτει τις αναμνήσεις και τα συναισθήματα του Όστερ μετά το θάνατο του πατέρα του, ενός απόμακρου, εσωστρεφούς, σχεδόν ψυχρού ανθρώπου. Καθώς φροντίζει για τις υποθέσεις του πατέρα του και σκαλίζει τα υπάρχοντά του, ο Όστερ αποκαλύπτει τα γεγονότα που κρύβονται πίσω από μια μυστηριώδη δολοφονία μέσα στην οικογένεια, που φωτίζει την ασάφεια του χαρακτήρα του πατέρα του.Στο "Βιβλίο της μνήμης" η οπτική γωνία μετατοπίζεται από την ιδιότητα του Όστερ ως γιου στο ρόλο του ως πατέρα. Μέσα από ένα μωσαϊκό εικόνων, συμπτώσεων και συνειρμών ο αφηγητής, ο Α, συλλογίζεται το χωρισμό του από το δικό του γιο, τον ετοιμοθάνατο παππού του, αλλά και τη μοναχική φύση της διήγησης και της συγγραφής.

Reader's Thoughts

Stephen

I have always like Paul Auster's novels and thought I would give his autobiographical meditation on memory, "The Invention of Solitude," a try. My interest was also attracted to this work because the first section concerns his relationship with his father, a topic that always intrigues me (I had a powerful and unforgettable father that shaped my life in ways I probably still don't entirely understand). In the end, I found this book rewarding. Auster's portrayal of a father who was largely a pose, never fully "there" for anyone, is unforgettable and deeply troubling. However, Auster's impressive erudition, obsession with coincidence (upon which many of his novels are built), and compulsion to go for the enigmatic, sometimes paradoxical, "truth" eventually began to wear me down. Auster is cultured and smart, that I will never dispute, but if I want a traumatized search for the paradoxes of "truth," I will go back to one of Auster's favorites, Pascal's Pensées, where the game of philosophy is being played for somewhat higher stakes.

Matthew

This is Auster's first non-fiction work, and when I first opened it, I was curious to see how it would differ from his very distinct voice in fiction. The answer, not a lot. In fact if I were told that this was yet another of his early short novels, I could easily believe it. Auster is often a character in his own fiction, protagonists share his name, his vocation, his hometown and his circumstances. Reviewers often note seemingly important correspondences between the names of wives and children in his novels and matchups to Auster's own life. For example, his first wife is named Sophie, his second Siri and he has a young son named Daniel, all names that frequently appear in his work. In the first part of his debut work, Portrait of an Invisible Man, Auster tells the story of a writer, named Paul Auster, coming home to deal with the aftermath of his estranged father's death, who is also named Auster, a man barely present to his son throughout his life. "Invisible to others, and most likely invisible to himself as well". Paul Auster embarks on a reconstruction of his father's life from artifacts left behind after his sudden but quiet death, and in the process discovers a shocking family secret that may change his understanding of everything. The second part is called The Book of Memory and concerns many of the themes found in Auster's later works: the order of events, coincidence, the act of writing, absurdism and chance. It precedes The New York Trilogy by five years, but in the opening paragraphs one can already detect the latent forms that will fully emerge later, particularly in The Locked Room. I found both of these works extremely moving and compelling. I also found myself musing on the difference between "the real Paul Auster" and the Paul Austers (or Peter Aarons, or A.'s, etc.) that appear in the pages of his novels. Is there a "real" Paul Auster? Do I know that one any better than the fictional ones? Does it make any difference? One thing I know for certain is that the more I read of Paul Auster, the more I realize that one can never truly be finished reading Auster. As soon as I complete one work and put it down, I want to pick it up again and continue the process.

Ariel

The first section, Portrait of an Invisible Man, about the death of Auster's father, is absolutely amazing. There's not a single paragraph that I didn't find interesting. Auster manages to present several aspects of a single person, all of them wildly different from each other, and making them all seem very real. This reminds me of Borges' essay on Beckford's Vathek, which opens with this:"Wilde attributes this joke to Carlyle: a biography of Michelangelo that would make no mention of the works of Michelangelo. So complex is reality, and so fragmentary and simplified is history, that an omniscient observer could write an indefinite, almost infinite, number of biographies of a man, each emphasizing different facts; we would have to read many of them before we realized that the protagonist was the same. Let us greatly simplify, and imagine that a life consists of 13,000 facts. One of the hypothetical biographies would record the series 11, 22, 33...; another, the series 9, 13, 17, 21...; another, the series 3, 12, 21, 30, 39... A history of a man's dreams is not inconceivable; another, of all the moments when he thought about the Pyramids; another, of his dealings with the night and with the dawn.Getting tired of myself writing the phrase "This reminds me of Borges'..." but I can't help it.I'm tempted to say that it's one of those books that everyone should read, a necessary book, but saying that is like saying nothing or like uttering meaningless grunting sounds, and writing it has the same impact you get when you read a back cover blurb.edit: the second part's kind of alright, I guess, whatever.

Leonard

A moving memoir and contemplation of fathers and sons, solitude and creativity, chance and memory. It illuminates a lot of his fiction for me and his interest in seeing and invisibility.

Josephine

Paul Auster’s book was mentioned in something else I was reading; I liked the title, so I made a note of it in my day planner to put on hold at the library. (The older I get, the more I realize that there’s no point in assuring yourself that you’ll remember something; chances are, you won’t. It’s better to make a note of it before it fades completely from your mind.)The first part, Portrait of an Invisible Man was fascinating; the second part, The Book of Memory, not so much.You know what the first part was like?It was a clear portrait of his father, who died unexpectedly; and what you get from reading it is that they had a complicated relationship where a lot of things were unsaid and that, while there was none of that closeness that all parents should have with their children, you got the sense that this was a man, who even after his father was gone, continued to find some sort of connection to him, so he could better understand why he was the way he was.It sort of made me think about how some of us have relationships like that — where we love someone because we “have to” but, whether we can ever bring ourselves to admit out loud, we know secretly that, in our hearts, we would probably never choose to have this person in our lives.In one part, he writes about his father’s emotional distance.“In the back of my mind: a desire to do something extraordinary, to impress him with an act of heroic proportions. The more aloof he was, the higher the stakes became for me,” Auster writes.As they walked to the car after Auster had played baseball terribly, his father absently told him that he did well — and when Auster protested, his father replied that you couldn’t do well every time.“It was not that he was trying to encourage me. Nor was he trying to be unkind. Rather, he was saying what one says on such occasions, as if automatically. They were the right words to say, and yet they were delivered without feeling, an exercise in decorum.”The passage made me think about how it’s been often said that the flip side of love isn’t hate, but indifference — and how, weirdly enough, that message was hammered home when I watched the brilliant Argentine film, “The Secret In Their Eyes” which actually made me rethink my views on the death penalty.Life in prison — in complete solitude where the prison guards don’t talk to you and there’s no TV to watch, no interaction with other prisoners, no access to books but enough food to keep you alive…maybe that is the worst punishment we could ever inflict on convicted prisoners.But I digress.Anyways…the second part of the book was called The Book of Memory and it was sort of…pretentious.I studied journalism and I appreciate a well-written article, so that’s always been the style of writing I like best — writing that’s simple and clear and tells a story without any bells and whistles.

Bill

Very different book than I have been reading lately, in many ways it was a nice change. It's an older book, published about 30 years ago, and in many ways it shows in the style of his writing.The book itself is almost two books, the first is an autobiographical account of the author finding out that his father died and reminiscing on what he knew about his father in an attempt to understand the man. Plot wise this portion of the book was very interesting, he finds a myself around his father's father, and tries to find meaning in the remote emotional life his father led while the author was growing up. Furthermore, although the book is old fashioned stylistically, I thought that it was very modern in the subject matter here since it was dealing with the generational change between a man who grew up in the early 1900s and was emotionally distant to someone who grew up with the baby boomers and was less so.The second part of the book is more of a rumination on memory, life, and how we relate to others. It takes place right after the first part, and mostly concerns how he will appear to his son now that he is getting divorced. It meanders a bit, and stylistically it reminded me of a 19th century philosophy novel in that it spent lots of time giving a very short story from his life, then some quotes of famous writers, and then ruminations on what it all meant. This part was slower to read but very interesting.

Bruno Alves da Silva

** spoiler alert ** A invenção da solidão é, antes de um, dois livros. Convenientemente dividido em ambas as partes, a experiência, as vozes, a estrutura e os sentimentos suscitados por Retrato de um homem invisível são algo diferentes do que o seriam por O livro da memória. Entretanto, a união, não só temática, mas também em honestidade apresentadas por seu autor, Paul Auster, em ambos, faz do volume em duas partes um livro duplo.A apresentação feita de Sam Auster por seu filho, Paul, pouco tempo após o final de sua vida, acaba na construção de um retrato comovente. Há a constante preocupação de não se construir uma imagem unilateral — e mais, superficial — de um homem que parece, senão caricato, no mínimo anedótico. Sua insistência em guardar o dinheiro (“como segurança”), os seus hábitos de usar roupas de segunda mão, barganha como meio de vida, a eliminação das distinções entre produtos, sua relativização de tudo através do mínimo denominador comum do preço. Fácil seria entregar-se à tentação de deixar estes aspectos falarem por si só, criarem a imagem perfeita do sovina. Assim como seria fácil, por sua distração, sua solidão, sua barreira de si contra o mundo, pintá-lo como o pai ausente por excelência.Entretanto, o autor e seu filho deixa algo a mais ao apresentar causos e anedotas que parecem contraditórias com a pessoa retratada, mas que, ao mesmo tempo, adicionam-lhe camadas de complexidade e o tornam mais humano, palpável à experiência. Seu relacionamento com os inquilinos enquanto senhorio. Os poucos momentos que brilham na memória do filho, de pequenos jogos que fizeram juntos. Sua proteção exacerbada para com a filha esquizofrênica. Estes são outros aspectos que, na tentativa de pintar uma figura, de estabelecer uma história coerente, poderiam muito bem ter sido ignorados — mas a perda que isso teria sido ao destacar a figura da realidade, ao pintá-lo como uma caricatura rabugenta, seria lastimável.A leitura desta primeira parte é menos fragmentária, apesar de ligeiramente anedótica. Pequenos casos, pontos pincelados em uma vida que já se foi, aqui e ali, que adicionam uma textura não linear ao retrato pintado. A prosa é bem amarrada e não difícil — ou ao menos mais agradável do que seria o “segundo livro” dentro de A invenção da solidão. Como primeiro romance completo, obra em prosa longa completo de Paul Auster, nada se deixa a desejar. O retrato pintado de um pai pelo filho, a rememoração de uma vida após o seu fim, a redenção de um homem, ou dois, enquanto um escreve sobre o outro, tentando lembrar, puxando da memória, fazendo este esforço consciente de imortalizar um ser humano em frases, em um texto quase poético que fortalece um laço que, durante a vida, não fora forte o suficiente.A invenção da solidão é um livro sobre memória, sobre solidão e sobre paternidade. Enquanto Paul escreve sobre seu pai na primeira parte, é a sua relação com o filho, com a solidão e com o acaso que compõe aquele que é intitulado O livro da memória. O livro da memória, livro um. Temos um choque inicial — o livro soa, parece, sente diferente do que havia sido até então. Em uma possível referência à Kafka e ao seu pobre K., aqui Auster se torna seu próprio personagem, sua própria construção ficcional nomeada A., autor de poemas, pai de Daniel, separado, e procurando imortalizar no papel a sua frente, em um quarto escuro e apertado, os diversos temas que lhe passam pela cabeça.paul_auster_203Em uma meditação talvez mais autobiográfica que o volume anterior, somos apresentados a pequenas anedotas e causos da vida, todos relacionados com a memória, com o acaso. Temos diversas relações e citações feitas por autores como Flaubert e Mallarmé que A. insere, seus conceitos, o que pode se provar, e se provou, uma leitura mais difícil. Menos a forma de um romance e mais parecido com um ensaio. A voz continua parecida, apesar da autoficcionalização do narrador, que se transforma em uma pessoa sem nome narrando a própria existência, agora mais fragmentária, de Paul Auster. Este encontra amigos anônimos e lida com o filho Daniel, decidido a não ser o pai que fora o seu. Alguém presente, que acompanha o filho na praia e no hospital.Se o que chama a atenção como caso marcante em Retrato de um homem invisível era também a história não só do pai, mas dos avós do autor — a avó assassina o avô por problemas de infidelidade no casamento, e passa por um caso espetacularizado — aqui é a relação de A. com S., um ancião compositor em desgraça por ingenuidade política. Cria-se um relacionamento quase paternal, um sendo o filho que o outro nunca teve, e vice-versa. Vive em um lugar minúsculo, povoado por uma pessoa e povoada por seus pensamentos. Cômodos pequenos estes que também tem o seu próprio espaço, como santuário de reflexão, armazém das ideias.É nesta solidão que se vê e se sente quem realmente é, menos como maldição como parte inerente da própria vida. Parece que, mesmo que pai e filho não apresentem equivalência em gostos, inclinações, e mesmo no modo como tratam a solidão que de certa forma invadem a vida, podemos sentir aí mais um laço que, em vida, parecem não ter percebido.Sentimos no livro a constante presença da memória. Não só se fala em memória, mas se fala sobre memória. O que seria o primeiro livro do que um experimento prático dos assuntos que o primeiro aborda? Se em O livro da memória, temos A. discorrendo livremente sobre a natureza do pensamento, sobre do que lembramos, como lembramos, os acasos da memória, sobre os contos de Sherazade e a importância da rememoração, o seu conto a respeito do pai não deixa de ser este exercício, esta guinada de sentido onde se dá, na rememoração de uma vida, sentido para a mesma, imortalizando-a como uma obra constituída de significação mental para os outros que a percebem. Sam Auster é significado na medida em que seu filho escreve sobre ele, após a sua morte, o fim de uma vida onde deixou pouco legado. E, após isso, o próprio filho dá significado, não apenas à própria vida, mas ao que Daniel pode se tornar.É interessante pensar nas reações deste quando por ventura ler esta obra quando mais maduro.A invenção da solidão é autobiográfico, mas não é uma autobiografia — não em seu sentido mais genérico. Tampouco é a biografia de Samuel. Menos ainda um ensaio filosófico sobre a natureza da memória. É algo entre os três, mas nenhum deles. É uma obra fragmentada e tridimensional, cheia de relações e introspecções, significados a acontecimentos, a pessoas, a sentimentos. E, sem dúvida, é o fruto de uma mente solitária, trabalhada não apenas no hábito da introspecção — mas na natureza desta própria.

Five

At first, "The Invention of Solitude" had me thinking, “oh god…this is the ultimate ‘My (Famous) Upper-Middle/Ruling Class Parent/s Was Cold/Uber-Religious/Absent/Drunk Which Is Why I Chose to Live off My Inheritance in [Insert European City Name Here] While I Write this Amazing Memoir’ memoir.” Luckily, that (ahem) banal plot quickly morphs into a critical ancillary function supporting the memoir’s exploration of memory and its effect on knowing, story-telling and understanding."The Invention" treats memory as a constituent of our realties: landscapes, homes, cities, architecture, people, lives, culture, etc. For Auster, they are all partially a product of memory while they mirror the process of remembering: “It occurred to him that perhaps he was wandering in the circles of hell, that the city had been designed as a model of the underworld, based on some classical representation of the place. Then he remembered that various diagrams of hell had been used as memory systems by some of the sixteenth century writers on the subject” (84). Memory manifests itself everywhere, significantly.This memoir attempts to examine the multiple dimensions of these entities while also exposing the processes and connections that occur in an act of recollection. In the attempt to do so, "The Invention" exhibits an almost stream-of-consciousness urgency in which the author, or narrator, tries to capture and document every connection and influence that seems relevant to an understanding. Therefore, the purposeful and recurring intertextuality in "The Invention" serves as a sustained/repetitious reminder of the deluge of coercion the human subconscious undergoes constantly. “It is not that it begins with the story. Rather, in the act of remembering it, he has become aware that something is happening to him. For the story would not have occurred to him unless whatever summoned its memory had not already been making itself felt. Unknown to himself, he had been burrowing down to a place of almost vanished memory, and now that something had surfaced, he could not even guess how long the excavation had taken” (77-78). In the narrator’s “long moment of inwardness,” his desperation to find and document all his triggers to recollection, he isolates himself. Subsequently, many parallels emerge with the story of his solitary father and grandfather, blurring the lines of memory and raising further questions about cultural and "familial" memory.As a way of exploring the nature of recollection, the memoir interrogates the possession of truth: “The funeral director kept telling me how he had known my father “in the old days,” implying an intimacy and friendship I was sure had never existed. As I gave him the information to be passed on to the newspapers for the obituary, he anticipated my remarks with incorrect facts, rushing ahead of me in order to prove how well acquainted he had been with my father. Each time this happened, I stopped and corrected him” (66). At first, the narrator refuses to accept his father as a multi-faceted individual. He acts as sole proprietor of truth. If anything, I think "The Invention of Solitude" is successful in proving that there is no such thing.Ultimately, this is a coming-of-age story and a dealing-with-loss story (in the true memoir sense), but it incorporates a meaningful exploration of what it means to live with and among memories.

Victoria

the first half, which is all i've read thus far, is a memoir recounting the death of the author's father. he describes the moment he learned of his father's death, the process of cleaning his father's house, the dry cleaning bills, the worn-out suits, the myriad objects that were left by his father, objects like arrows pointing to his father's identity, which ultimately reveal nothing about the man he feels he never knew. eh. it's good, so far.

Georgia Choate

The Invention of Solitude is the biography of Paul Auster's father Sam Auster who died when Paul Auster's own son was very young. Auster never fully bonded with his father. His loss was that much more heartbreaking because his mourning was filtered through the nurturing bond Auster was developing with his own son.More than any other author I've read, the voice of Paul Auster intices me to write. He balances his concrete and abstract images perfectly. Just when he's quoted Proust in a way I don't quite understand, he interjects a concrete image that I instantly relate to. It not only keeps me reading, but makes me want to find my own words. Not to regurgitate Paul Auster's voice, but to let it feed my own.This is a book I return to because, well, everyone has to save their father to become a real boy. It touches the heart of our regrets and misunderstandings we have of our parents as well as the understanding that develops as we become parents ourselves.~ Georgia Choate

José Enrique Vivas M.

La exploración que hace Auster de la personalidad de su recientemente fallecido padre en la primera mitad del libro es muy empática y sentida. Contempla el autor la distante relación que los unió y que de una u otra le formó a él como padre. La descripción del hombre es a ratos despiadada, y en el solaz con que detalla sus excentricidades y las intimidades de su familia uno a su vez se explora, y busca en las escenas de la infancia esas marcas que madre, padre y hermanos dejan en nuestra personalidad.La parte dos del libro tiene otro carácter, más filosófico, y su lectura es más ardua. Auster explora, en episodios de su juventud y primeros años de paternidad, la resonancia de su experiencia como hijo en su papel de padre, además de la naturaleza de la memoria, la ficción, la casualidad, el recuerdo. Suena a temas disconexos, y es que esta sección a ratos parece construido con notas sueltas relacionando todos esos tópicos. Sin embargo muchas de las reflexiones resuenan poderosamente en la propia experiencia.

Peter Choi

In "Portrait of an Invisible Man," you can see the process of emotional reconciliation happening directly on the page. You see the wheels turning in Auster's mind as he tries to remember his distant, enigmatic father and then deal with the loss of never being able to fully understand him. It is the plain, moving nature of his confession that wins you over.In "The Book of Memory," however, something happens to his voice. Like his father, he himself becomes emotionally distant, referring to himself simply as "A." and all the other characters by their own individual letters. Instead of moving closer, he takes a step back, and reading the second narrative becomes an effort of chasing him from one erratic thought to the next. When you finally catch up with him, you realize that "Memory" is self-indulgent where "Portrait" was introspective. Worse, you kinda understand why Auster's alone so much.

Gilava

این کتاب شاید یه جور خاطره نویسنده باشه از پدرش که تازه قوت شده و شاید رابطه خیلی جالبی هم باهاش نداشته در طول زندگی و همچنین یه جور تلاشه برای برای نفوذ به انزوای خودخواسته اش از راه یادآوری و ثبت اون خاطرات،یه جور تفکراتی در باره تنهایی، انزوا، اخلاق، ادبیات، هستی و...کتاب با این سه تا جمله تموم میشه:"بود. دیگر هرگز نخواهد بود. به خاطر بسپار."در هر صورت من دوستش داشتم:-)

Amir Mojiry

نحوه ی خرید اختراع انزوا این طوری بود: عید امسال با میلاد رفته بودیم شهر کتاب ونک، آن جا بین کتاب ها پرسه می زدیم که این کتاب را دید میلاد و گفت کتاب خوبی است و بعد نگاه کردیم به "نقد" کتاب و دیدیم نقد خوبی دارد: 4800 تومان. این شد که یکی یک دانه از کتاب خریدیم!کتاب دو بخش دارد: پرتره ی مردی نامرئی و کتاب خاطره. بخش اول منسجم تر و راحت خوان تر است. از خواندن آن لذت بردم.بخش دوم، پیچیده و در هم برهم است. البته حرف های خیلی خوبی در آن هست، آدم را به فکر فرو می برد، باعث نگاه نو به خیلی چیزها می شود... اما در نهایت این پراکندگی آن است که بر همه ی این ها غلبه می کند. انگار استر حرف های زیادی برای زدن داشته اما طرز مرتب بیان کردنشان را نمی دانسته وبه ناچار در قالبی پیچیده و شلخته آورده آن حرف ها را. این جوری سخت است اعتراض کردن به او! زیرا نمی شود حرف ها و اندیشه های زیبا و خارق العاده ی او را در کتاب خاطره نادیده گرفت. اما باید به یاد داشت که نادیده گرفتن شلختگی این بخش هم، به نوعی تسلیم "پز روشنفکری" استر شدن است. ترجمه ی کتاب هم خوب انجام گرفته بود.

Emad Rahmanian

to good to read

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