Edited By Michael Gratzke, Margaret-Anne Hutton and Claire Whitehead
Part II History, Fiction, Testimony
Angela Kershaw Reading Némirovsky Now: Resistant Representations of the Second World War in Twenty-First-Century French Literature The present study1 seeks to analyse the ways in which Irène Némirovsky’s Suite française (2004) participates in ‘resistant’ fictional discourses about the Second World War in twenty-first-century France.2 Its aim is to understand the literary relations which link a text written during the wartime events it narrates to other texts written many years later. In the introduction to her 2007 study The Last Resistance, Jacqueline Rose uses Némirovsky’s novel as the starting point of her problematization of the concept of resistance. Analysing the description of the relationship between the French woman Lucille and the Nazi soldier Bruno von Falk, Rose argues that Némirovsky’s ‘genius’ consists in her ability to ‘[condense] into such a brief passage the strange permutations of resistance in our time’.3 When her village is occu- pied, Lucille resists Nazism by harbouring a French man who has shot a German soldier; she also ultimately resists her politically transgressive desire for the Nazi billeted in her home. Yet as Rose demonstrates, that transgressive desire is also a form of resistance – resistance to the moral and social constraints which forbid (female) adultery whilst tying Lucille to an unfaithful husband. In Suite française, resistance is thus both ‘inner sexual 1 I should like to thank Béatrice Dammame-Gilbert, Olivier Philipponnat, Daniel Allington and participants in the AHRC Holocaust Writing and Translation net- work at UEA in December 2010...
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