Les Mythobiographies Mineures De Patrick Modiano

Author: Thiel-Janczuk, Katarzyna
This book, by making reference to a theoretical reflection on themes of mythocriticism, the philosophy of language and the individual, places the work of this modern author within the context of two metaphors – the mythical labyrinth and its postmodernist variant, Deleuze’s rhizome – treated as figures of identity and otherness. They express two contrary tendencies in Modiano’s writing. The labyrinth signifies the breakdown of the historical paradigm of identity and the crisis of the referential functioning of literature, characteristic of structuralist thought. An attempt to recover the reliability of narration outside historical time leads the author towards archaic images which allude to the traditional idea of the sacred. The imagination, however, dictates images which are not grounded in history and are thus a parody of the mythical reversion. The rhizome, as a metaphor for opening, not only breaks down the traditional dichotomy between reality and fiction, but also, by making reference to the contemporary idea of nomadism inspired by Jewish tradition, carries a reflection on identity and otherness in the field of ethics. In the context of biographical narration, the co-existence of the labyrinth and the rhizome signifies on one hand a vain attempt to recreate faithful events from the character’s life, and on the other a restoration of the intersubjective relationship of the author with the Other, whether real or imagined, within the space of the text. This makes it possible to treat the autobiographical and autofictional dimension of Modiano’s work not as an attempt to create the author’s fictional or real identity, but as the coming into being of his ethical identity. In French


“ … Now through this typology of characters, Dr. Thiel-Ja?czuk makes visible Modiano’s valorization of alterity and difference, which leads to an uncovering of the overall ethical vision in his work. His novels are not the morally relativist, postmodern universe that they are sometimes thought to be (Akane Kawakami) but, through a parody of myth, the author concludes that there is a return to ethics in the sense of Levinas, as the primeval relation to the other. As such, in her view, Modiano’s work offers a ‘dépassement du mythe par l’éthique’. Ethics is the final ‘fil d’Ariane’ that this very rich and original book invites us to follow in the labyrinthine universe of Modiano’s novels.” – (from the Preface) Dr. Annelies Schulte Nordholt, Leiden University

“ … offers an innovative interpretation of the works of Patrick Modiano himself, but also contains observations which are interesting in the context of contemporary literary studies concerning the novel. Using the two figures of the mythical labyrinth and Deleuze’s rhizome, the author presents a skillful revision of the concepts of myth, truth, identity and otherness in contemporary prose. A break with the mythical plots relating to the labyrinth figure and a turn towards archaic images inspired by the traditional idea of the sacred, which the author discerns in the works of this contemporary French writer, are an attempt to rediscover reliable paradigms of identity and otherness, distorted under the influence of History. At the same time, the author presents an interesting interpretation of the labyrinth myth itself …” – Prof. Micha? Piotr Mrozowicki, University of Gda?sk

“Dr. Katarzyna Thiel-Ja?czuk’s lively study of Patrick Modiano is a welcome addition to the growing list of critical works that, over the last twenty years or so, has come to constitute compelling testimony to this writer’s importance. Like many of her predecessors, Dr. Thiel-Ja?czuk has understood that the apparent simplicity and limpidity of Modiano’s writing draws its readers into a fictional world of great complexity and depth … Her approach offers illuminating and subtle interpretation of many of Modiano’s individual works. She is at her most original in suggesting that Modiano’s work can be best understood not so much in relation to its links to the history of the dark years of the Occupation, or to its (auto)biographical or autofictional dimensions, but as a fundamentally ethical project …” – Dr. Colin Nettelbeck, The University of Melbourne

“This book carries a methodological proposition which is interesting in the context of studies of literature – it is an ambitious attempt to take a comprehensive view of the novels of Patrick Modiano through the lens of a postmodernist metaphor, promoted as a tool of research in 1976 by the philosopher Gilles Deleuze and the former psychoanalyst Felix Guattari … Dr. Thiel-Ja?czuk’s work not only presents an interesting reading of the mythical labyrinth story itself, but also, with reference to the myth category, proposes an interesting reflection on the parodic vision of the world in the novels of the author in question …” – Prof. Wieslaw Malinowski, Adam Mickiewicz University

Table of Contents

Preface by Annelies Schulte Nordholt
1. Autour du Mythe Primitif
2. Entre le Mythe Parodié el le Mythe Retrouvé
3. Le Récit: Entre Mythe et Histoire