Paul Auster dies: the best phrases from his best books


«In general, lives disappear. “A person dies and little by little, all traces of his life disappear,” wrote Paul Auster, in 2005, in ‘Brooklyn Follies’. “Most people leave behind no real monuments or achievements,” he continued. But, Paul Auster, the American novelist who died this Tuesday, a victim of lung cancer, at the age of 77 in New York, leaves behind a collection of unforgettable books. The latest, ‘Baumgartner’, has just arrived in bookstores. Prince of Asturias Award for Literature in 2006, visitor to the Seminci (along with Mira Sorvino in 1998), he has left a literary legacy from which authentic literary gems can be extracted. These are some of the best quotes from Paul Auster’s books.

‘The New York Trilogy’ (1985-1986)

Would it be possible, he wondered, to stand before the world and with the utmost conviction spew out lies and nonsense? Tell them that windmills were knights, that a barber’s chamber pot was a helmet, that puppets were real people? Would it be possible to persuade others to agree with what he said even if they did not believe him? In other words, to what extent would people tolerate profanity if it provided them with amusement? The answer is that we still read the book. We still find it extremely fun. And that is ultimately what anyone asks of a book, that it entertains them.

“We exist for ourselves, perhaps, and sometimes we even glimpse who we are, but in the end we can never be sure, and while our lives go on; we become more and more opaque; more and more aware of our own incoherence. No one can cross the border that separates him from the other for the simple reason that no one can have access to himself.«

‘The Land of Last Things’ (1987)

“In the middle of each word, how many silences, how many expressions escape and disappear never to return.”

“Every time you think you know the answer to a question, you discover that the question doesn’t make sense.”

“What does it matter who you were last week if you know who you are today?”

«The end is only imaginary, a destiny that you invent to keep walking.»

‘The of the Moon’ (1989)

«For me, books were not so much the support for words as the words themselves»

«-An electrically transmitted voice is not a real voice –I told him-. We have all become accustomed to these simulacra of ourselves, but when you stop and think about it, the telephone is an instrument of distortion and fantasy. It is a communication between ghosts, the verbal secretions of disembodied minds. I want to see the people I’m talking to. If I can’t see her, I prefer not to talk to her.

«A conversation is like having a rally with someone.- A good teammate throws the ball directly into your glove, so that it is almost impossible for it to escape, when he is the one who receives, he catches everything you throw at him, even the shots more erratic and incompetent”

«The world enters our eyes, but it does not make sense until it descends into our mouths»

“If you are not prepared for everything, you are not prepared for anything.”

‘Leviathan’ (1992)

«No one can say where a book comes from, least of all the person who writes it. Books come from ignorance, and if they continue to live after they are written it is only to the extent that they cannot be understood.

“Once you turn against yourself, it’s hard not to believe that the whole world is also against you.”

«It’s already difficult to keep track of yourself. When it comes to other people, we don’t have the slightest idea.

«One can only hold one’s breath for a limited time. Sooner or later, there comes a time when he has to breathe again, even if the air is contaminated, even if he knows that he will end up killing himself.


. Vertigo’ (1994)

«When I asked the teacher why he studied that book over and over again, he told me it was because you never got to the bottom of it. The deeper you go into it, he told me, the more you find and the longer it takes you to read it.

“A magical book,” I said, “it never goes out of print.”

-That’s it, young man, it is inexhaustible. You drink the wine, leave the glass on the table and, lo and behold, you pick up the glass again and discover that it is still full.

-Which means you end up stone drunk for the price of a single drink.

“I couldn’t have expressed it better myself,” he said, turning suddenly and looking out the window. You get drunk on the world, boy, you get drunk on the mystery of the world.

‘Timbuktu’ (1999)

«Don’t tell me that two and two make four. How do we know that two is two? That is the real question”.

‘The Book of Illusions’ (2002)

«Well, I said, what do you think? What it seems to me, she replied slowly, is that if I open my eyes now, maybe you’re not there.

Yes, I replied, I understand what you mean. On the other hand, if you don’t open them, you’ll never know if I’m here or not, right?

‘Brooklyn Follies’ (2005)

«When the only assets a person has are the brain with which he thinks and the mouth with which he speaks, he must think carefully before opening his mouth and starting to say something»

«Writing is like a disease. Something like an infection or flu of the spirit that can attack anyone at the most unexpected moment.

«When a person is fortunate enough to live within a story, to inhabit an imaginary world, the sorrows of this world disappear. As history continues its course, reality ceases to exist.

‘Winter Diary’ (2012)

«You are undoubtedly a precarious and hurt person, a man who has carried a wound inside him from the very beginning (why else have you spent your entire adult life pouring words like blood on a sheet of paper?)» .

«You don’t miss the old days. Whenever you get nostalgic and begin to long for the loss of things that seemed to make life better than it is now, you told yourself that you should stop for a moment to think about it, to examine Then with the same rigor that you apply to Now, and not “It takes you a long time to come to the conclusion that Now and Then are, in essence, the same thing.”

‘Inside Report’ (2013)

« You thought you had left no trace. All the stories and poems you wrote in your childhood and adolescence have disappeared, there are only a few photographs of you from early childhood to your mid-thirties, almost everything you did, said and thought when you were young has already disappeared. forgotten, and although you remember many things, there are more, a thousand times more things that you do not remember.



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