Don Quixote Influence on Cassandra Clare’s Book City of Glass

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

“It was a wrong number that started it…Much later…he would conclude that nothing was real except chance.’’ (Auster, Paul. City Of Glass,1985:1)

The first sentences of the book although We don’t notice at the first glimpse informs the reader about the possibility of this detective fiction being a ‘‘book possibilities and chances”. Despite the fact that City of Glass is categorized as a detective fiction, City of Glass starts as a detective story and it ends with no case, no solved crime, no detective or criminal; everything you expect to find in a detective fiction goes missing at the end of the book.As one keeps reading it, the book starts to become a case itself and the reader gets lost in the book like Peter Stillman who gets lost in the city ; the book goes on to become a case, a problem to be solved itself instead of solving all the questions that it brings along throughout the narration.

In a ‘‘perfect’’ detective fiction it is expected to include a real detective and a case which the detective investigates and the narration is usually built on the ‘‘cause and effect’’ relation that ends with a resolution that satisfies the reader one way or another.In City of Glass We have a ‘’detective’’ who “pretends to be a detective’’ , instead of having a case composed of “cause and effect” relation, We have a case that is formed around ‘‘chance’’ and ‘‘coincidence’’.Our so-called detective Daniel Quinn who acts to be ‘‘Paul Auster as being the fake detective’’ is paid to protect Peter Stillman Jr. from his father who they believe will come to kill him, however, instead of fulfilling his duty he starts to follow Peter Stillman , at some point he is not even sure if he is following the right man.When he comes across with two similar men who both have the potential of being Peter Stillman ‘‘He craves an amoeba’s body, wanting to cut himself in half and run off in two directions at once’’.(Auster, Paul. City Of Glass,1985: 56).

City of Glass has a lot of touch on multiple texts, characters and authors throughout the narration of the book.Melville’s Moby Dick, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe are both mentioned at certain points of the book.Edgar Allan Poe’s William Wilson is presented as a fictional detective in which Daniel Quinn uses as the main character of his detective books.However, the major touch is made on Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote.At the 10th chapter of the novel the detective Paul Auster – Daniel Quinn – meets the writer Paul Auster and they start to talk about Cervantes’ discovery of the manuscript by chance and then presenting himself as the editor of the translation while he can’t even be trusted for the accuracy of the translation and at the end of the City of Glass We find out from a mysterious narrator that everything that has been told was taken from the red notebook of the Paul Auster which ends by saying that ‘‘What will happen when there are no more pages in the red notebook?” (Auster, Paul. City Of Glass,1985:159).Paul Auster – as being the writer of the book- takes Cervantes’ theory about his book and adapts it a whole new genre.By this effort Paul Auster closes the gap between the best-seller category of the mainstream literature and the literary canon by incorporating them.

We all know that a detective might use different identities in order to sneak into hidden places and get information from people by protecting his real identity.Our detective Paul Auster identifies himself with his fake identity so vigorous that he introduces himself to Peter Stillman as ‘‘Quinn’’ which is his real name, on their first encounter.When they meet for the second time, that is when the absurdity starts, because he becomes ‘‘Henry Dark’’ and in their third meeting he introduces himself as ‘‘Peter Stillman Jr.’’.Our so-called detective starts to get lost in his multiple identities and after losing the track of Peter Stillman he also loses his subjectivity by losing his house, his non-existing case.He finds out from Paul Auster – the writer – that Peter Stillman killed himself and the check he took from Peter Stillman jr. was bounced.

Although it seems to be a detective fiction; City of Glass contains deeper philosophical problems such as the loss of one’s subjectivity.The reader of the City of Glass starts to read the text as if it is a detective novel, as if there is something to be solved, however, towards the end, everything in the book; the case, characters, Daniel Quinn himself gets lost in the fragmented city like Peter Stillman who collected broken goods from the streets to make up a new language and finally, Daniel Quinn becomes one of those broken pieces.

The beginning of the book which I quoted at the very beginning of my discussion makes us take into consideration the possibility of the chance factor as the cause of everything that happens in the book.However, We shouldn’t miss the fact that if there was no Don Quixote, would still there be a book named ‘‘City of Glass?’’ Having the touch of many texts, City of Glass is itself a unique piece, because no matter where the text benefits from, what makes the text unique, for Roland Barthes, is its “combination’’.

City of Glass is not a book that tries to be a detective fiction instead, it makes fun of the traditional detective novels by turning the book upside down ,therefore the book itself becomes a case instead of solving all the problems that the book urges.The book embodies deeper philosophical problems such as the problem related to language, it benefits from very essential pieces of the literature history especially from Don Quixote by making the reader wonder as if all of it was just a hoax like in the Don Quixote? One starts to read City of Glass as a detective fiction and then ends up with no detective fiction that has no cause and effect relation, no detective , no crime, no case, no subjectivity or identity ; everything in the book disappears except the red notebook which has no pages left to write.


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