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Modiano’s detective: In search of lost memory

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-07-28, 03:37 authored by Rhys TyersRhys Tyers
This article argues that Patrick Modiano’s The Black Notebook (2003) is influenced by and, at the same time, critically revises crime fiction tropes. Many researchers have identified and discussed Modiano’s fascination with memory and identity (Wardi, Scherman, Sanyal) and memory and history (VanderWolk, Hendrix, Gratton, Prus) as well as the fact that the author consistently uses devices and tropes from detective fiction (Cooke, Kawakami, Botta). The connection, however, between Modiano’s work and metaphysical detective fiction has not been explored with regards to The Black Notebook and, as a result, this essay seeks to highlight this connection. The writer of metaphysical detective fiction (in this case Modiano) uses the tropes of detective fiction to conduct investigations into more personal mysteries like our relationship with identity and memory rather than simply looking for a solution to a crime. Thus, this paper will investigate how Modiano explores the impossibility of knowing the self through writing by examining the author’s use of the tropes of detective fiction. The novel under analysis, The Black Notebook, employs the themes of the metaphysical detective narrative to further highlight our problematic relationship with textual closure, memory and space, textual curation and intertextuality.


Publication Date



Cogent Arts and Humanities





Article Number

ARTN 2026006




Cogent OA



Rights Statement

© 2022 The Author(s). This open access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.