'Lignes de fuite vers L'Horizon': Reading a Nietzschean narrative of liberation in the writings of Patrick Modiano

Jenny Devine

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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With the publication of L’Horizon in 2010, Patrick Modiano introduces a new perspective in his writings. The title alone indicates a fresh direction, a projection into a realm of possibility and potential, marking a significant departure from the apparent retrospection of his preceding texts (Dans le café de la jeunesse perdue, Du plus loin de l’oubli, Vestiaire de l’enfance….).
Informed and enlightened by Nietzschean philosophy, this thesis traces a narrative of liberation in Modiano’s writing and investigates the subtle development in his philosophical outlook which has led to this new perspective. Following a trajectory towards what Nietzsche termed Dionysian or tragic wisdom, it identifies three stages of liberation undergone by Modiano’s protagonists throughout the course of his oeuvre; namely the dissolution of their values, their ensuing disorientation, and their affirmation of the eternal return. In doing so, this thesis reveals a gradual process of revaluation whereby suffering, in the form of uncertainty and ignorance comes to be both valued and relished.
In the course of its examination, this thesis reveals a complementarity between the output of Nietzsche and that of Modiano. While Nietzsche offers a theoretical account of the beneficial and liberating qualities of dissolution, disorientation and the eternal return, Modiano’s writings immerse the reader in the confusing and often terrifying experience of these events. Although Modiano is often described as a philosophical writer, the philosophical nature of his work is hitherto underexplored. This reading of Modiano through a Nietzschean lens addresses this lacuna in Modiano studies.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Davis, Colin, Supervisor
Award date1 Feb 2012
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011

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