Unspoken Trauma: The Dislocated Self in ‘The New York Trilogy’

  • Abstract:

    All along the New York Trilogy, Auster’s detectives bear unspoken wounds of their past. Their epistemological quest for the truth is further hampered by their uncertainty to find answers about who they truly are. Chasing a perpetrator turns into chasing a shadow, an inner self, and a sense of belonging. Haplessly, this happens in vain as Quinn turns into a hobo, Blue disappears aimlessly and Fanshawe commits suicide. Tragic endings may suggest the pre-existence of an underlying traumatic experience. The subject is haunted by an event that he cannot escape, express or materialize. The reaction would be a fragmented and a nonsensical narrative that conveys the weight of the traumatic experience. Quinn, Blue and Fanshawe choose to alienate themselves from a society that is the locus of their predicament. Unstable, they strive to find meaning in their pursuit of the clues leading them further astray from predetermining their reason of being and place of belonging. Drawing on Trauma theory, this essay attempts to examine how The New York Trilogy is an artistic materialization of an underlying trauma leading to a confused definition of identity. This article shall primarily focus on the reading of the novel as a traumatic event. It will examine how textual indeterminacies are implemented to convey a problematized self-definition. Ultimately, it shall study how the detectives’ quest for the truth is a query for personal, social and artistic belonging. This belonging is lost in the tides of a traumatic past that impedes the articulation of a clear subjectivity.