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Neohelicon

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 217–227 | Cite as

Street names in Patrick Modiano’s work: La Place de l’étoile and the case of rue Lauriston

  • France Grenaudier-KlijnEmail author
Article

Abstract

The German Occupation of Paris lies at the core of French novelist Patrick Modiano’s œuvre. Yet, Modiano, born in 1945, does not have first-hand experience of the event. His representation of this period of French history is foremost a (re)construction. It is also obsessive, as illustrated by the compulsive peregrinations of his narrators through the streets of Paris. Taking at its starting point the ambivalent ‘places of memory’ that pepper Modiano’s novels, this article proposes to examine more closely the symbolism of one recurrent street name: the rue Lauriston, headquarters of the most infamous branch of the ‘French Gestapo’. Rather drab and unpretentious, this street does not stand out in any way from Parisian topography. Yet, the simple uttering of its name makes present a troubled past, both at a collective and personal level. Not only does the textual inscription of the rue Lauriston motif reveal much regarding the author’s relationship to the period of the Occupation, it is also indicative of his ethical preoccupations with the misdeeds of the past and need to resist cultural amnesia. Underpinned by Paul Ricœur’s and Roland Barthes’s reflections on memory and photography respectively, and illustrating the discussion with examples taken from Modiano’s first novel La Place de l’étoile, the article argues that Modiano’s rue Lauriston represents a form of partial disclosure/un-concealment typical of this author’s ‘reticence poetics’ (poétique de la réticence).

Keywords

Patrick Modiano Occupation Rue Lauriston Reticence poetics Paul Ricœur Roland Barthes La Place de l’étoile 

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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of HumanitiesMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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