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After the Fall

War and Occupation in Irène Némirovsky's Suite française

Nathan Bracher

Publication Year: 2012

In this work, the first critical monograph on Suite française, Nathan Bracher shows how, first amid the chaos and panic of the May-June 1940 debacle, and then within the unsettling new order of the German occupation, Némirovsky's novel casts a particularly revealing light on the behavior and attitudes of the French as well as on the highly problematic interaction of France's social classes

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

I am grateful to Texas A & M University for the Faculty Development leave that allowed me to complete my research and draft the initial manuscript of this book, and for the generous grant awarded by the Program to Enhance Scholarly and Creative Activities through the Office of the Vice President for Research ...

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pp. ix-xxiv

One would be hard-pressed to make a more compelling case for the enduring potency of World War II in contemporary French culture than that offered by Irène Némirovsky’s Suite française, which was finally and dramatically discovered and published in 2004, over sixty years after the author’s tragic death. ...

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Chapter 1. Timely Representations

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pp. 1-27

With respect to the traumatic events in 1940, Némirovsky presents an intriguing paradox that may explain a good deal of the present-day confusion surrounding her attitude toward the war. In the wake of Hegel, who, in surveying the succession of human events claimed to read the “prose of the world” ...

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Chapter 2. Narrating the Fall

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pp. 28-64

Irène Némirovsky, as we have seen, refused to rally her Suite française under any particular banner and resolved to maintain her composure in the face of the increasingly sinister events of the early war years. In her fictional narrative as well as in her personal life, she displayed neither cynical detachment nor wounded isolationism. ...

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Chapter 3. Epic Suffering

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pp. 65-97

For a close paraphrase of Némirovsky’s perspective on private lives and collective destiny during the May–June 1940 debacle, we can cite one of Tempête en juin’s major protagonists, Philippe Péricand, the priest who takes on the task of accompanying a group of delinquants and orphans to safety in the southern provinces. ...

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Chapter 4. Accounting for Disaster: Tempête en juin and Its Contemporaries

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pp. 98-129

The specific contributions of Némirovsky’s narrative of the May– June 1940 debacle, including not only its strengths, but also certain limitations, come into sharper focus when we compare Tempête en juin with several other prominent narratives of the defeat and exodus also written during the early years of the Occupation ...

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Chapter 5. Occupational Hazards

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pp. 130-163

Given the traumatic events and divisive discourses occasioned by Hitler’s conquest and occupation of French territory, there is no little audacity in Némirovsky’s choice of Suite française and Dolce as titles. These musical terms would normally suggest a set of artful, delicately elaborated musical compositions ...

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Chapter 6. Portraits of the Nazis as Young Men

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pp. 164-195

France’s stinging defeat brought into full public view the Wehrmacht soldiers marching down the Champs-Élysées, relaxing in countless provincial Cafés de Commerce, and camping in farms and châteaux, in each case profoundly changing the visible texture of everyday life. ...

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Chapter 7. Private Lives and Public Stories

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pp. 196-228

After the sound and fury of Tempête en juin, the second installment of Némirovsky’s war narrative portrays a relative return to normal. Suggesting a “soft” or “sweet” musical interlude, the title Dolce functions as a metaphor for the whole series of plot developments. ...

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Chapter 8. Reaching the Rendezvous with Destiny

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pp. 229-260

In order to fully discern the implications of Lucile’s intimate but never-consummated conversations with Bruno that lead up to her decisive refusal to make love with this culturally refined and emotionally sensitive member of the Wehrmacht, we cannot take her at face value. ...


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pp. 261-264


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pp. 265-268

E-ISBN-13: 9780813219264
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813217895

Page Count: 268
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Némirovsky, Irène, 1903-1942. Suite française.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- France -- Literature and the war.
  • France -- History -- German occupation, 1940-1945.
  • War in literature.
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