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The Modern World Literature Author

Auster represents a new feature of World Literature. Unlike Garcia Marquez and Bukowski, he completed college, in fact received an advanced degree. Many writers now follow this path into World Literature. He first stepped into the intellectual attention space in college, using student publications as a platform and finding those professors who could lead him to a prise de position. His partner and first reader, Lydia Davis, was an indispensable influence on his aesthetic positions. He used his “foreign exile” differently than Garcia Marquez did, creating both symbolic and cultural capital with Dupin, as well as a bit of glamour. Back home, however, he had to leverage his capital in the usual ways, with patrons like John Bernard Meyers. Starting his own small press was an ambitious bootstrapping operation, but ultimately insufficient: he needed help from a passionate small publisher like Douglas Messerli. An agent and reviewers followed, then his work was found and refracted back to France by an idealistic publisher and a dedicated publisher and translator. Becoming a celebrity in France, he became one in the United States. In retrospect we can see this refraction of reputation, between Latin America and Spain, between Germany and the United States, was part of Garcia Marquez’ and Charles Bukowski’s success too. Academics got on board when a synergy appeared between their teaching and writing. Going forward, this validating complex will become an important part of World Literature’s process and production.

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