Patrick Modiano opens Dora Bruder by telling how in 1988 he stumbled across an ad in the personal columns of the New Year's Eve 1941 edition of Paris Soir. Placed by the parents of a 15-year-old Jewish girl, Dora Bruder, who had run away from her Catholic boarding school, the ad sets Modiano off on a quest to find out everything he can about Dora and why, at the height of German reprisals, she ran away on a bitterly cold day from the people hiding her. He finds only one other official mention of her name on a list of Jews deported from Paris to Auschwitz in September 1942. With no knowledge of Dora Bruder aside from these two records, Modiano continues to dig for fragments from Dora's past. What little he discovers in official records and through remaining family members, becomes a meditation on the immense losses of the peroid—lost people, lost stories, and lost history. Modiano delivers a moving account of the ten-year investigation that took him back to the sights and sounds of Paris under the Nazi Occupation and the paranoia of the Pétain regime as he tries to find connections to Dora. In his efforts to exhume her from the past, Modiano realizes that he must come to terms with the specters of his own troubled adolescence. The result, a montage of creative and historical material, is Modiano's personal rumination on loss, both memoir and memorial.
"Missing a young girl, Dora Bruder, 15, height 1.55m, oval-shaped face, grey-brown eyes, grey sports jacket, maroon pullover, navy blue skirt and hat, brown gym shoes. All information to M. and Mme Bruder, 41 Boulevard Ornano, Paris." The author chanced upon this notice in a December 1941 issue of Paris Soir. The girl has vanished from the convent school which had taken her in during the Occupation. She had apparently run away on a bitterly cold night at a time of especially violent German reprisals. Moved by her fate, the author sets out to find all he can about her. Eventually he discovers her name in a list of Jews deported to Auschwitz in September 1942 and what further fragments he is able to uncover about the Bruder family become a meditation on the immense losses of the period - people lost, stories lost, human history lost. Modiano delivers a moving survey of a decade-long investigation that revived for him the sights, sounds and sorrowful rhythms of occupied Paris. And in seeking to exhume Dora Bruder's fate, he in turn faces, and must come to terms with, his own family history.
This is the first in-depth study of the twelve Modiano texts specifically concerned with life-writing in autobiographical and biographical-cum-historiographical projects. The texts covered range fromLa Place de l'étoile (1968) through to La Petite Bijou (2001). Close textual analysis is combined with a theoretical approach based on current thinking in autobiography, biography, and reader-response. Modiano's use of autofiction and biofiction is analysed in the light of his continuing obsession with both personal trauma and History, as well as his problematic relationship with his paternally-inherited Jewish links. His view of identity (of self and other) is thus discussed in relation to a particular literary and socio-historical context– French, postmodern, post-World War II, and post-Holocaust.
A Self-Conscious Art is the first full-length study in English to attempt to deal with the formal complexities of Modiano's work, by reading "against the grain" of his self-professed ingenuousness. A detailed examination of his narratives shows the deeply postmodern nature of his writing. Parodying precursors such as Proust or the nouveau romanciers, his narratives are built around a profound lack of faith in the ability of writing to retrieve the past through memory, and this failure is acknowledged in the discreet playfulness that characterizes his novels. This book is a timely introduction to the work of one of the most successful modern French novelists.
Review: "This encyclopedia offers an authoritative and comprehensive survey of the important writers and works that form the literature about the Holocaust and its consequences. The collection is alphabetically arranged and consists of high-quality biocritical essays on 309 writers who are first-, second-, and third-generation survivors or important thinkers and spokespersons on the Holocaust. An essential literary reference work, this publication is an important addition to the genre and a solid value for public and academic libraries."--"The Top 20 Reference Titles of the Year," American Libraries, May 2004.
While his preoccupation with the period of the Occupation remains a permanent theme, Patrick Modiano is increasingly interested in the exploration of time and memory, and the attendant problem of reconstituting the past. This volume explores all these features. It casts new light on Modiano's earliest novels, examines afresh his more recent work including his stories for children, situates it in the context of contemporary writing and unravels the intricacies and subtleties of his style. It underlines Modiano's position as one of France's major writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and will be of interest to all who are interested in the modern French novel and the complex interactions between fiction and history.CONTENTSJohn FLOWER : Introduction Colin NETTELBECK : Jardinage dans les ruines : Modiano et l'espace litteraire francais contemporainAlan MORRIS : And the `Bande? played on: An intertext for Patrick Modiano: Les Boulevards de ceintureAnne-Marie OBAJTEK-KIRKWOOD : Une certaine presse de `plumitifs? : celle des Boulevards de ceintureAnnelies SCHULTE NORDHOLT : Dora Bruder : le temoignage par le biais de la fictionJoseph JURT : La memoire de la Shoah : Dora BruderBeatrice DAMAMME-GILBERT : Secrets, fantomes et troubles de la transmission du passe dans la pratique de Patrick ModianoKatarzyna THIEL-JANCZUK : Les biographies imaginaires de Patrick Modiano : entre mythe et histoireScott LEE : Drame des origines, drame du signifiant : Accident nocturneJurate D. KAMINSKAS : Des Inconnues de Modiano ou l'esthetique du texteJeanne-Andree NELSON : La Mere modele dans La Petite Bijou de ModianoDervila COOKE : La Petite Bijou: Autofictional translationsNelly WOLF : Figures de la fuite chez Patrick ModianoSimon KEMP : Fade-Out: Patterns of inconclusion in Modian's novelsJean-Marc LECAUDE : Patrick Modiano : Le narrateur et sa disparition ou qu'y a-t-il derriere le miroir ?Akane KAWAKAMI : Flowers of evil, flowers of ruin: walking in Paris with Baudelaire and Modiano Christian DONADILLE : Patrick Modiano et la litterature d'enfance : l'autre cote du miroirContributors Index