Literary Schizophrenia in The Crying of Lot 49 and City of Glass

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Last updated: April 26, 2019

Schizophrenia is used not as a diagnose but a guide to explore the contemporary society we live in, in the age of postmodernism. Traditional individual subject as we know is gone and the society works as natural machines. People are the desiring machines, producer and the product itself in the system and the perspective is everything whether you stand in or out, safe or not. The reality depends on where you stand, how you connect and shapen them. The number of the reality and the truth is counted by the perspective. Both novels I am analyzing in this paper start almost the same.

Both characters Oedipa Maas from The Crying of Lot 49 and Daniel Quinn from City of Glass are regular people, their lives change by a phone call and they find themselves working as a detective. In The Crying of Lot 49, Oedipa Maas’s perspective is shifted by the kirsch she drank at a Tupperware pary, she is an unreliable narrator from the beginning and her life starts to direct in another way by the phone call about her heritage from her former boyfriend Pierce Inverarity. While on her way to have the heritage, she jumps into a journey of uncovering Triestero named underground mailing system. Both the character and the reader try to connect the clues but fail miserably as the sense of self is lost.

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When Oedipa is at the hostel, she wants to see herself in the mirror and cannot, which is the allegory that she does not know where or who she is, which makes it impossible to figure the reality out. Her unreliability of the narrative and the lackness of the self leave the novel as an unsolved mystery. In the end, we still do not know whether Triestero does exist, whether she is hallucinating or Pierce Inverarity set her up a huge, well-organized joke. On the other hand, in City of Glass, characterization is more complex. Schizophrenia is given not only by multidimensional characters but also names. In addition to the real-life writer Paul Auster, there is another P..


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