Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Making a Few Faded Words Visible Again: Patrick Modiano

Unfortunately I do not think that the remembrance of things past can be done any longer with Marcel Proust's power and candidness. The society he was describing was still stable, a 19th century society. Proust's memory causes the past to reappear in all its detail, like a tableau vivant. Today, I get the sense that memory is much less sure of itself, engaged as it is in a constant struggle against amnesia and oblivion. This layer, this mass of oblivion that obscures everything, means we can only pick up fragments of the past, disconnected traces, fleeting and almost ungraspable human destinies.
Yet it has to be the vocation of the novelist, when faced with this large blank page of oblivion, to make a few faded words visible again, like lost icebergs adrift on the surface of the ocean.

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