Adaptation and amplification in Paul Auster's City of glass

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Cara Williams (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Meghan Sweeney

Abstract: Paul Auster’s meta-fictional detective story, City of Glass, involves a complex linguistic investigation into the nature, function, and meaning of language. Using a highly conventional literary genre, detective fiction, Auster, using deconstructionist principles, carefully structures the collapse of these conventions, ultimately a signifying structure, and with them the collapse of language. Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli adapted from City of Glass a graphic novel, Paul Auster’s City of Glass, extending Auster’s interrogation of signifying structures to the signification of pictorial images. The novel offers a deliberate challenge to comics theorists such as Scott McCloud and Will Eisner who have made claims to the universality and culturally transcendent meanings of pictorial images. This thesis argues Karasik and Mazzucchelli establish the ambiguity of signification and the concept of deferral and difference in pictorial images thus employing the conventions of comics to collapse the signifying conventions of the comics genre and with it the collapse of comics pictorial-based language. Paul Auster’s City of Glass, I would like to suggest, creates an independently viable text that brings Auster’s crisis of meaning full circle by indicating the ambiguity of signification on multiple levels of representation whether spoken written or drawn. Borrowing from Linda Hutcheon’s Theory of Adaptation, this thesis explores the relationship of the graphic adaptation to its source text in order to propose that, rather than merely illustrating Auster’s text, Karasik and Mazzucchelli add resonance to Auster’s work, creating a new text that can be interpreted and understood with no prior knowledge of the source. At the same time, the adaptation lends validity and value to iv alternate cultural forms such as graphic novels and adaptations, both of which have been historically marginalized in English studies.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Auster Paul 1947-City of glass--Criticism and interpretation, Karasik Paul, Hutcheon Linda 1947-Theory of adaptation--Criticism and interpretation, Mazzucchelli David
Auster, Paul, 1947- City of glass -- Criticism and interpretation
Hutcheon, Linda, 1947- Theory of adaptation -- Criticism and interpretation
Karasik, Paul
Mazzucchelli, David

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