Keyword: Dans le café de la jeunesse perdue

The fear of 'forgetting' that drives French Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano

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Patrick Modiano, le 9 octobre à Paris. © Reuters Patrick Modiano, le 9 octobre à Paris. © Reuters

On Thursday French author Patrick Modiano was named as the 2014 recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature. In its citation the Swedish Academy said the prize had been awarded to honour “the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the Occupation”. It is, above all, recognition of 40 years of an obsessive quest, motivated by the fear of forgetting. Here Mediapart journalist Ellen Salvi, who spent five years at the Sorbonne in Paris studying Modiano's work and who has met the media-shy writer in person, shares her insight into the past influences and “previous lives” that have helped shape his writing.