Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Black Notebook by Jean Patrick Modiano (2016, 144 pages)

Paris in July - Hosted by Thyme for Tea

The Black Notebook by Jean Patrick Mondiano (translated by the award winning Mark Polizzotti) centers on the quest of a writer, Jean, to attempt to discover information concerning a woman, who was his occasional lover, fifty years ago, right after the close of The Algerian War for Independence, 1964.  Paris then was ripe with suspicion, full of contrasts between the respectable and the dangerous.  We see the character of the city being impacted by new comers from what was once French colonial North Africa.  The Black Notebook is deeply saturated with an almost hallucinatory miasma of memories of walks around Paris.

Using a black note book in which, fifty years ago, he recorded his activities and his contacts Jean attempts to discover if this woman may still be alive and to unravel the secrets of her troubled past she kept deeply veiled.  

The Black Notebook is very much about the nature of memory.  We see the voluntary and involuntary memories Jean has as he wanders Paris, fifty years ago he was a struggling young writer, now he is quite successful.  The days of the poverty stricken streets of his youth begin to come back to him, intertwined with his thoughts on Paris, a city he loves and knows intimately.  As he walks the city, he begins to think of an even almost imagine he sees Jean Duval (1820 to 1862),  lover for twenty years in a very volatile relationship with Charles Baudelaire.  We almost enter the narrator's subconscious as we know he equates this relationship to his of fifty years ago.  I admit I loved this touch.

The Black Notebook is a fascinating book, very much worth reading. 

One sees the profound influence of Proust in this book.

I hope to read his Trilogy set during the occupation of Paris by the Nazis, highly praised by the Nobel Committee, this month.

Jean Patrick Modiano (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ paˈtʁik ˌmɔdjaˈno]; born 30 July 1945) is a French novelist and recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature. He previously won the 2012 Austrian State Prize for European Literature, the 2010 Prix mondial Cino Del Duca from the Institut de France for lifetime achievement, the 1978 Prix Goncourt for Rue des boutiques obscures, and the 1972 Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française for Les Boulevards de ceinture. His works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have been celebrated in and around France, but most of his novels had not been translated into English before he was awarded the Nobel Prize. - from Amazon

Mel u


Nadia said...

I have a few of Modiano's books, but have yet to read them. This one sounds pretty interesting. I think I definitely need to give his writing a read. Glad you posted about his work :)

Mel u said...

Nadia, thanks for your comment, I hope to read his occupation Trilogy soon