Moon Palace (Paul Auster)

Julian Barber

– former identity: Julian Barber
– born into a rich family in New York
– successful career as a painter
– attracted to the scenery of Long Island
– fascinated by the inventor Nicola Tesla, who seems to represent the progressive spirit of the time. (He first saw him at the Columbia Exposition in 1893, and then again when Tesla built a laboratory in Shoreham, near to where the Barbers lived.)
– marriage to Elizabeth Wheeler: failure
– sets off on an artistic expedition to the West
– accompanied by a young geologist, Edward Byrne
– fascinated by the landscape of the West
– their guide leads them into a dangerous area in the mountains
– Byrne’s horse loses its footing and falls down the rocky slope, leaving Bryne seriously injured
– the guide abandons them
– Byrne dies three days later
– Barber is completely alone and believes he is about to go crazy.
– discovers a cave at the top of a cliff (fully equipped with supplies; a dead man, who has been killed, is lying in the bed
– decides to adopt the dead man’s identity
– lives in the cave
– period of deep happiness and extraordinary artistic productivity begins ( starts to paint again and becomes immersed in his work, covering all his canvases and, when they run out, his furniture and then the cave walls.)
– visited by an Indian, George Ugly-Mouth
=> takes him for the dead man
– finds out that the dead man had been involved with a gang of outlaws called the Gresham brothers, whose return is only a matter of time.
– ambushes them and kills them in cold blood
=> In their saddle-bags he finds a large amount of money
– leaves the cave and begins a new life as Thomas Effing in San Francisco
– investes the money wisely
=> becomes very rich
– life of luxury
– fears of having his identity revealed by someone from the past
– seeks oblivion in opium, women and gambling
– attacked by an unknown assailant
=> loses the use of his legs
– moves to Paris
– meets Pavel Shum
– they move to the USA just before the outbreak of World War II
– remaining years of his life seem uninteresting to Effing.