Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano has said that his many fictions are all variations of the same story. Pedigree, his memoir, is the theme.
In this rare glimpse into the life of Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano, the author takes up his pen to tell his personal story. He addresses his early years—shadowy times in postwar Paris that haunt his memory and have inspired his world-cherished body of fiction. In the spare, absorbing, and sometimes dreamlike prose that translator Mark Polizzotti captures unerringly, Modiano offers a memoir of his first twenty-one years. Termed one of his “finest books” by the Guardian, Pedigree is both a personal exploration and a luminous portrait of a world gone by.
Pedigree sheds light on the childhood and adolescence that Modiano explores in Suspended Sentences,Dora Bruder, and other novels. In this work he re-creates the louche, unstable, colorful world of his parents under the German Occupation; his childhood in a household of circus performers and gangsters; and his formative friendship with the writer Raymond Queneau. While acknowledging that memory is never assured, Modiano recalls with painful clarity the most haunting moments of his early life, such as the death of his ten-year-old brother. Pedigree, Modiano’s only memoir, is a gift to his readers and a master key to the themes that have inspired his writing life.
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A conversation with translator Mark Polizzotti
Pedigree is a late work for Patrick Modiano that deals with his youth. What do we learn about him?
Several things that I believe are essential to understanding Modiano’s fictions. First, just how closely certain key recurring episodes in his novels are patterned on real events from his early life, and how profoundly they have shaped his sensibility. But also we learn about the context in which he grew up. For instance, certain areas of Paris—the Bois de Boulogne, or particular streets in the 6th or 16th arrondissement—show up frequently in his works; this memoir gives the backstory. More significantly, Modiano alludes in various novels to his problematic relations with his absentee mother and distant but controlling father; only after reading Pedigree did I truly grasp that complicated and heartbreaking dynamic.
Winning the Nobel Prize in 2014 certainly changed the fortune of Modiano’s literary career. How do you see his work in the tradition of Nobel laureates?
One of the things that most appeals to me about Modiano’s writing is its apparent modesty—or rather, its ability to treat some of the great issues of the twentieth century, such as human responsibility in times of crisis or the vicissitudes of identity, without grandstanding or self-conscious profundity. Unlike many Nobel winners, his work does not proclaim its importance, but instead remains on a personal, human scale; the more universal significance of his writings is read, as it were, between the lines. This deceptively simple, “local” quality makes his work, to my mind, much more accessible and enjoyable to read than the works of many recent laureates—but no less deserving of the honor.
Patrick Modiano, winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for literature and an internationally beloved novelist, lives in Paris, France. Mark Polizzotti has translated more than forty books from the French and is director of the publications program at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
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Description du livre 2015. Hardcover. État : New. Hardcover. It's a book less on what I did than on what others, mainly my parents, did to me Taking in a vast gallery of extraordinary characters from Paris' post-war years, Pedigree is an autobiogra.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 112 pages. 0.202. N° de réf. du libraire 9780857054913
Description du livre 2015. Hardcover. État : New. Hardcover. It's a book less on what I did than on what others, mainly my parents, did to me Taking in a vast gallery of extraordinary characters from Paris' post-war years, Pedigree is .Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 112 pages. 0.202. N° de réf. du libraire 9780857054913