World War II in Andreï Makine’s Historiographic Metafiction

‘No One Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Forgotten’


Can it be ever possible to write about war in a work of fiction? asks a protagonist of one of Makine’s strongly metafictional and intensely historical novels. Helena Duffy’s World War II in Andreï Makine’s Historiographic Metafiction redirects this question at the Franco-Russian author’s fiction itself by investigating its portrayal of Soviet involvement in the struggle against Hitler. To write back into the history of the Great Fatherland War its unmourned victims — invalids, Jews, POWs, women or starving Leningraders — is the self-acknowledged ambition of a novelist committed to the postmodern empowerment of those hitherto silenced by dominant historiographies. Whether Makine succeeds at giving voice to those whose suffering jarred with the triumphalist narrative of the war concocted by Soviet authorities is the central concern of Duffy’s book.

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Helena Duffy, MSt (Oxon), PhD (Oxford Brookes), is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London, and Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Wrocław in Poland. She has published widely on non-native French novelists, contemporary cinema and cultural representations of the Holocaust.
"Helena Duffy réfute l’appartenance de l’oeuvre de l’écrivain au post-modernisme puisque dans ce même contexte la Seconde Guerre mondiale est considérée sous un angle tout à fait différent voire opposé (pp. 284-285). Duffy réussit à démontrer l’incongruité gênante entre la poétique makinienne, générant l’émotion du lecteur par la beauté littéraire, et le message politique qu’elle sous-tend, cette incongruité faisant partie d’une stratégie littéraire manipulatrice."
- Isabelle Dotan, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, H-French Review, vol. 19 (May 2019), no 73.

"Pour quiconque désirera commencer un travail académique sur Makine, ce livre sera désormais incontournable."
- Timo Obergöker, Romanica Wratislaviensia 66, 2019.
Author’s Note
Abbreviations of the Titles of Andreï Makine’s Novels

Introduction: Andreï Makine, the Great Fatherland War, the Historical Novel and (Russian) Postmodernism 1 Andreï Makine’s Novels as Historiographic Metafictions  Introduction: from Architecture to Metafiction  The Orphans of History: The Good German, the Kind Ivan and the Virtuous ‘Mobile Field Wife’  Historicity, Rewriting and Nostalgia  Can It Ever Be Possible to Write about War in a Novel?  Veracity vs. Verisimilitude  The Textuality of Knowledge, the Limits of Cognition and the Role of Documents in Historical Inquiry  ‘The Presence of the Past’  The Politics of Andreï Makine’s Fiction 2 The Hero of the Soviet Union: From Victor to Victim  Introduction  The Soviet Union Is No More — Its Heroes Live On  The Intelligible Body  Ivan’s Childhood  Fathers, Mothers and Sons  Ivan in the Mirror  Ivan’s War(s)  Speak, Memory  From Berlin to Beriozhka  Conclusions 3 The War Invalid: The Samovar, the Kommunalka and the Docile Body, or the Dialectic of Fragmentation and Plenitude  Introduction: ‘The Heroic Flotsam and Jetsam of History’  Written on the Body  The ‘Ugly Vestiges of the War’: Sasha Semyonov and Pyotr Evdokimov  The Amputee and the Fragmented Narrative  The Poetics of Fragment: Archaeology and Fresco Painting  The Common Places: The Communal Apartment and Courtyard  Charlotte, Put the Samovar on  Requiem for the Lost Empire  Conclusions 4 The Jew: Between Victimhood and Complicity, or How an Army-Dodger and Rootless Cosmopolitan Has Become a Saintly Ogre  Introduction  The Holocaust as a Non-Event and Russian/Soviet Anti-Semitism  The Jew as the Postmodern Other  There Are Jews in Makine’s Oeuvre but There Is No Jewish Question  The Kholokaust and the Grey Zone  ‘Jews Are Fighting the War in Tashkent’  The Jew’s Redemptive Phoria  From Superfluous Man to Homo Sovieticus  Conclusions 5 The Blokadnik: A Saintly Prostitute or a Heroic Defender of Leningrad?  Introduction  Taking the Piss out of the Blockade  The Homo Sacer: Steadfastness, Solidarity, Sacrifice, Sostradanie and Serenity  Leningrad’s Saintly Prostitutes  The Siege as a Gendered Experience: Heroic Fighters and Holy Blockade Women  ‘All for One and One for All’  The City of Culture or the Uncanny City  No One Is Forgotten  Conclusions Conclusions. Writing History of World War II as a Prophet Bibliography Index
All interested in contemporary French literature, World War II, Russian history, the Soviet Union, the Holocaust, postmodernism, contemporary philosophy of history, and historiographic metafiction.
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