Patrick Modiano

My friend Donal Adams copied me recently on a post he made to other friends about Patrick Modiano, the recent Nobel Laureate. I would like to share some of the more salient points and my response.

Don says that he does not see it coincidental that the Nobel went to Modiano when anti-Semitism in France is on the rise, as is the rate of French Jews’ emigration to Israel.

Modiano’s first novel, La Place de l’Étoile was published in May, 1968, the month that the student protests in Paris began. The book appeared when the core tenet of French postwar identity, ‘the myth of France as a nation of resisters’, was beginning to crumble.

Modiano’s father was Jewish and had refused to wear a star and did not turn himself in when Paris’s Jews were rounded up for deportation to concentration camps.. Modiano has returned again and again to the same themes: the pull of the past, the threat of disappearance, the blurring of moral boundaries — the dark side of the soul. He believes that the novelist has an ethical duty to record the traces of the people who have vanished, the people who were made to disappear.

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My response:

Very interesting post. I must confess to knowing nothing about Patrick Modiano before the recent announcement about him winning the Nobel Prize. But, I am very interested in learning more about him and will definitely read his some of his books. He writes about a period of time I have long been interested.

I am currently reading Camus at Combat 1944-1947. I read a daily dispatch and sometime feel I am living in that era. Today (October 31, 1944) I read about M. Stephen Lauzanne. Lauzanne was editor and chief of Le Martin and described as a man without character. He was accused of collaboration in his editorials and broadcasts on Radio Paris between 1940 and 1944. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Camus said as a journalist he had no talent or morals and was involved in cowardly compromises of every sort. But who is worse, Camus asks, the man or the society who allowed the man to function. Society’s responsibility is enormous. A world in which jobs can be had without competence or at the very least some kind of virtue is a world that carries with it the seeds of its own destruction. Cue Fox News. The Individual’s responsibility begins where society’s ends.

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