Self-Conscious Art: Patrick Modiano's Postmodern Fictions by Akane Kawakami

By Akane Kawakami

A Self-Conscious paintings is the 1st full-length examine in English to aim to accommodate the formal complexities of Modiano’s paintings, by means of interpreting ''against the grain'' of his self-professed ingenuousness. a close exam of his narratives indicates the deeply postmodern nature of his writing. Parodying precursors corresponding to Proust or the nouveau romanciers, his narratives are outfitted round a profound loss of religion within the skill of writing to retrieve the previous via reminiscence, and this failure is said within the discreet playfulness that characterizes his novels. This booklet is a well timed advent to the paintings of 1 of the main winning smooth French novelists.

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37 Certainly it is true that Modiano’s narrators are driven by a compulsive desire, almost a sense of duty, to record the details of ephemeral lives and milieux, the existences of the ‘hommes des plages’ of this world: De ceux qui ne laissent sur leur passage qu’une bue´e vite dissipe´e. [. ] [l’homme des plages] figure en maillot de bain au milieu de groupes joyeux mais personne ne pourrait dire son nom. [. 38 The narrator of one of Modiano’s most recent novels, Chien de printemps, is another young man engaged voluntarily in a biographer’s task: he is working through three suitcasefuls of photographs, taken by a photographer by the name of Jansen, and carrying out the thankless task of recording and classifying them in chronological order.

124) It would appear that there are no frontiers between the past and present of individual people, either, if Jean can accede in this way to the memories of Ingrid and Rigaud. A first-person narrator, he seems to have far too much information about the inner feelings of the other characters in this novel, even if Ingrid has been highly communicative 36 Patrick Modiano: A Self-Conscious Art with him: ‘je lui [Ingrid] ai pose´ des questions et je me demande encore pourquoi elle y a re´pondu avec tant de de´tails’ (p.

BIOGRAPHERS, HISTORIANS We have seen how in Voyage de noces, Modiano is not attempting to write about an objective past, but remembering and recreating, through Disorderly Narratives: The Order of Narration 41 the act of writing, a subjective past which is governed by the order of narration rather than those of histoire or of re´cit. This suggests that Modiano is pessimistic about the possibility of writing an ‘objective’ history at all: indeed a brief glance at his novels seems to reveal an attitude towards history (or biography, the history of an individual) as an ideal, but unattainable, form of narrative.

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