, Volume 96, Issue 4, pp 523-540

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Photographie et image en prose dans Dora Bruder de Patrick Modiano

  • Annelies Schulte NordholtAffiliated withDépartement de Langue et Littérature Françaises, Université de Leiden Email author 


In Patrick Modiano’s inquiry on Dora Bruder, photographical images—mostly portraits of Dora and her parents—play an important role. But in the original edition, these photographs are not reproduced, they are only described. We thus have to do with prose images, with an ekphrasis from existing photographs. In later editions—especially the American and Japanese translations—we find reproductions of these photographs. Their addition to the text modifies the status of it, making it into a biography or document. But our analysis concentrates on the prose images themselves: how do they work out within the narrative? How do they affect the experience of the reader, who «sees» them without really seeing them? What is their relation to postmemory? How do they include the viewpoint of the narrator, who is describing the photographs? We will see that the prose image is a deliberate choice of Modiano’s, and that it perfectly fits the narrative formula of Dora Bruder, which is halfway between a memorial and an autobiography. Moreover, it is in harmony with Modiano’s mode of narration.


Patrick Modiano Dora Bruder Photography Shoah Postmemory