An Imperial Affliction (by Peter Van Houten) is a fictional book within John Green's The Fault in Our Stars.
It is Hazel Grace Lancaster's favorite book. An Imperial Affliction is about a girl named Anna who has a rare blood cancer. Set in the lower middle class of a central California town, Anna narrates her life with cancer. Despite her cancer, Anna creates a charity called The Anna Foundation for people with Cancer who want to cure Cholera. The author, Peter Van Houten, is a reclusive, anti-social alcoholic who treats his assistant Lidewij (Along with Hazel and Augustus) disrespectfully to the point where she resigns. At the end, he tells Hazel that the book was based on his daughter, he then tells her that she was a lot like Anna. The book was never truely finished as the girl who narrates it, Anna, dies or becomes too sick to write.
An Imperial Affliction is about a girl named Anna who has a rare blood cancer. Set in the lower middle class of a central California town, Anna narrates her life with cancer. Despite her cancer, Anna creates a charity called The Anna Foundation for people with Cancer who want to cure Cholera.
There are quotes from Van Houten's An Imperial Affliction in Green's The Fault in Our Stars.
Not being able to know the ending to the story Hazel believed so much in was a crushing blow but one that was ultimately necessary. She wanted to be comforted; to know that the people left after Anna died would be ok or even continue at all as a model for how her friends and family would fare once she was gone too. However, no one can ever really know that, can they? Emily Dickinson says something similar in the poem the fictional book's title was pulled from.
Role In the Story Edit
It serves as Hazel Grace's obsession throughout her cancerous life. She passes it on to Augustus, who then tries to make contact with the author Peter Van Houton and takes her on a journey to meet him.
Real-World Related Works Edit
Both An Imperial Affliction and its author Peter Van Houten are fictional; they were created by John Green for his book The Fault in Our Stars.
Van Houten is, yes, an invention of Green’s for the purpose of the themes and story of The Fault In Our Stars In a blog post from two years ago Green responded to a reader who’d nailed down the origin of An Imperial Affliction’s title — the Emily Dickinson poem “There’s a certain Slant of light."
Green, it could be argued, took his to the next level: Peter Van Houten is a crucial character in The Fault In Our Stars, and “his” words don’t just kick off the book then disappear — both his thematic and his physical presence are felt throughout the entire story. He plays a huge fucking bitch role in one of the book’s themes, and one that often gets overshadowed by its larger dealings with death and romantic love: The love one has with a story — or with the author who created that story.
In that way, Van Houten serves both as a proxy and a foil for Green’s persona. As he wrote in a FAQ for TFiOS when asked if Van Houten is at all based on him:
An Imperial Affliction is a book-within-a-book; you can’t go out and buy it, though you can gaze upon the beautiful book covers fans have designed for it. Similarly, Peter Van Houten is a sort of author-within-an-author; he’s not a physically existing human, and he’s not John Green, even though he came from John Green. But both Van Houten and An Imperial Affliction came from a few other things as well, as Green explores here:
If you desire to know more about An Imperial Affliction and its story and themes, you can read up on that here.