Books

Sleep of Memory

Sleep of Memory is a novel by Patrick Modiano.

Patrick Modiano

Patrick Modiano's first novel since his 2014 Nobel Prize revisits moments of the author's past to produce a spare yet moving reflection on the destructive underside of love, the dreams and follies of youth, the vagaries of memory, and the melancholy of loss. Writing from the perspective of an older man, the narrator relives a key period in his life through his relationships with several enigmatic women — Geneviève, Martine, Madeleine, a certain Madame Huberson — in the process unearthing his troubled relationship with his parents, his unorthodox childhood, and the unsettled years of his youth that helped form the celebrated writer he would become. This is classic Modiano, utilizing his signature mix of autobiography and invention to create his most intriguing and intimate book yet. (From Yale University Press)

From the book

Once, on the quays, the title of a book caught my eye: The Time of Encounters. For me, too, there had been a time of encounters, in a long-distant past. I was prone back then to fear of nothingness, like a kind of vertigo. I never felt it when alone, only certain individuals whom I had in fact just encountered. I'd reassure myself that, when the time was right, I could steal away unnoticed. You never knew where some of those people might lead you. It was a slippery slope.

I could start by talking about Sunday evenings. They filled me with dread, as they do anyone who has to return to boarding school on late winter afternoons, at sunset. That dread pursues them in their dreams, sometimes for the rest of their lives. On Sunday evenings years later, a few people would gather in the apartment of Martine Hayward, and i happened to be among them. I was twenty and felt out of place. Guilt took hold of me again, as if I were still a boarder: as if, instead of going back to school, I had run away.


From Sleep of Memory by Patrick Modiano ©2018. Published by Yale University Press.

About Patrick Modiano

Patrick Modiano wins the 2014 Nobel Prize for literature

7 years ago
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CBC's Jelena Adzic has more on the French novelist who took the coveted prize 1:50

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