Perec, Modiano, Holocaust, Dora Bruder, W or the Memory of Childhood, Ethics, Citation, Compagnon, Suleiman, Hirsch


This article compares the representations of the Holocaust in Georges Perec’s W ou le souvenir d’enfance (W or the Memory of Childhood) and Patrick Modiano’s Dora Bruder. I concentrate on the two authors’ use of citation, in both cases of texts written by victims of the deportations, and identify a respective ethics of citation in each work by drawing on Antoine Compagnon’s theory. Modiano’s is best characterized through the term ‘responsibility,’ a responsibility he urges the reader to share with him in memorializing the wartime past. In the case of Perec, ‘resonance’ describes the manner in which he articulates the two halves of his book, as well as the wider historical lessons of the Shoah, around a citation from David Rousset. I conclude by suggesting that the ethical distinction between responsibility and resonance is connected to the generational difference between the two writers, famous examples of (in Perec’s case) Susan Suleiman’s ‘1.5 generation’ and, in Modiano’s, Marianne Hirsch’s generation of postmemory.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.