The Occupation Trilogy: La Place de l'Étoile - The Night Watch - Ring Roads
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Born at the close of World War II, 2014 Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano was a young man in his twenties when he burst onto the Parisian literary scene with these three brilliant, angry novels about the wartime Occupation of Paris.
The epigraph to his first novel, among the first to seriously question Nazi collaboration in France, reads: "In June 1942 a German officer goes up to a young man and says: 'Excuse me, monsieur, where is La Place de l’Étoile?' The young man points to the star on his chest." The second novel, The Night Watch, tells the story of a young man caught between his work for the French Gestapo, his work for a Resistance cell, and the black marketeers whose milieu he shares. Ring Roads recounts a son’s search for his Jewish father who disappeared ten years earlier, whom he finds trying to weather the war in service to unsavory characters.
Together these three brilliant, almost hallucinatory evocations of the Occupation attempt to exorcise the past by exploring the morally ambiguous worlds of collaboration and resistance. Award-winning translator Frank Wynne has revised the translations of The Night Watch and Ring Roads--long out of print--for our current day, and brings La Place de l’Étoile into English for the first time. The Occupation Trilogy provides the perfect introduction to one of the world’s greatest writers.
Lucien Rebatet (1903–1972), a French author, journalist, and intellectual; an exponent of fascism and virulent anti-Semite. Ferdinand Bardamu: a character in Céline’s Voyage au bout de la Nuit. Modiano calls him Doctor Louis-Ferdinand Bardamu, echoing Céline’s title and first names. The first pages of the novel are a parody of the anti-Semitic tracts Céline wrote and published. Stay strong, Madelon: a reference to the popular French WWI song ‘La Madelon’ (aka ‘Quand Madelon’) about an
west . . . the headquarters of the Milice is in Versailles . . . We’re really in the shit!’ At the hotel bar, we sat drinking Irish coffee, my father was smoking his Upmann cigar. How did the Splendid differ from the Claridge, from the George V, and every other cara-vanserai in Paris and Europe? How much longer can grand hotels and Pullman cars protect me from France? When all is said and done, these goldfish bowls made me sick. But the resolutions I had made gave me a little hope. I would sign
Aeneid. In the course of one such retreat, I made the acquaintance of a young aristocrat from Touraine, Jean-François Des Essarts. We were the same age and I was astounded by the breadth of his knowledge. At our first meeting, he recommended that I read – in no particular order – Maurice Scève’s Délie, Corneille’s comedies, the memoirs of Cardinal de Retz. He initiated me into the grace and the subtleties of French. In him, I discovered precious qualities: tact, generosity, a great sensitivity,
blur of faces of the people below, watching. heute Dir gehören . . . And yet, as you whirled past, you could recognise a nose, a hand, a laugh, a flash of teeth, a pair of staring eyes. The blue-black eyes of the Lieutenant. Ten, perhaps twenty other faces. The faces of those whose addresses you spat out, those who will be arrested tonight. Thankfully, they stream past quickly, in time with the music, and you don’t have a chance to piece together their features. und Liebe schwören . . . The
their chief, Henri Normand, had influence with the préfecture de police and the public prosecutor office, if such bodies still existed. As I went on with my story, I watched dismay and disgust spread over their faces. Only the Lieutenant remained inscrutable. ‘Good work, Lamballe! Keep at it. And write up a complete list of the members of the agency.’ Then one morning, everyone seemed to be in a particularly sombre mood. The Lieutenant cleared his throat: ‘Lamballe, we need you to carry out an