Dimanches d'août (Sundays in August) by Patrick Modiano
In Dimanches d'août, Patrick Modiano continues to explore his melancholic style by narrating the memories and passionate escapade of a loving couple involved in a police plot.
A figure in contemporary literature
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014, the Novel Grand Prix awarded by the Académie française for Les Boulevards de ceinture (Ring Roads, 1972), and the Goncourt Prize for Rue des Boutiques obscures (Missing Person, 1978), Patrick Modiano is today an iconic figure in contemporary French literature.
Born in 1945, he has authored some 30 novels since La Place de l’Étoile (The Place of the Star) was published in 1968, which at the time won him the Roger-Nimier prize and the Fénéon prize. The son of a Jewish-Italian father, he frequently evokes the image of his father throughout his work, infusing it with an autobiographical flavour.
The tale of a couple
Published in 1986, Dimanches d'août begins with Jean, narrator and photographer, meeting a certain Villecourt as he wanders through the streets of Nice. The evocation of Sylvia, his former girlfriend, immerses him in memories of his escape with the young woman when they hid in a room in the city.
The plot centres around Sylvia's pendant, a Southern Cross, which they try to sell so they can continue their journey.
Patrick Modiano tells the story of a couple, their escapade, their secrets and their relationship with the Neals, potential buyers of the diamond.
A game of police leads
In this novel, Patrick Modiano creates a detective plot built around Sylvia's disappearance. The narrative progression of the story gradually answers all the questions asked and leads the reader into a giant unfolding puzzle.
The Southern Cross, a powerful part of the story, directly alludes to the life of the author's father, Albert Modiano. Later, in Un pedigree (Pedigree) published in 2005, the writer said that after the war his father had wanted to sell the pink diamond he had bought to an Italian banker, Georges Giorgini-Schiff.
Translation and adaptation
Dimanches d'août reflects the style of Patrick Modiano through his enduring melancholic charm. The author makes reality poetic and transforms it into romantic material. He plays on flashbacks and reminiscences to better symbolise how his main characters lose their bearings.
The writer was inspired by Virgil E. Neal, a perfume industrialist linked to a Nazi network, in the creation of one of his protagonists and decided to set his book after World War II.
Translated into German, the story was also adapted for the big screen by Manuel Poirier in Te Quiero (I Love You), released in 2001.
Dimanches d'août by Patrick Modiano has been translated into persian and slovene with the support of the Institut français.
Through its publication support programmes, the Institut français participates in the dissemination of French language humanities worldwide.