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Out of the Dark
Cover of Out of the Dark
Out of the Dark
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Patrick Modiano, winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature, is the author of more than thirty books and one of France's most admired contemporary novelists. Out of the Dark is a moody, expertly rendered tale of a love affair between two drifters.

The narrator, writing in 1995, looks back thirty years to a time when, having abandoned his studies and selling off old art books to get by, he comes to know Gérard Van Bever and Jacqueline, a young, enigmatic couple who seem to live off roulette winnings. He falls in love with Jacqueline; they run off to England together, where they share a few sad, aimless months, until one day she disappears. Fifteen years later, in Paris, they meet again, a reunion that only recalls the haunting inaccessibility of the past: they spend a few hours together, and the next day, Jacqueline, now married, disappears once again. Almost fifteen years after that, he sees her yet again, this time from a distance he chooses not to bridge. A profoundly affecting novel, Out of the Dark is poignant, strange, delicate, melancholy, and sadly hilarious.

Patrick Modiano, winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature, is the author of more than thirty books and one of France's most admired contemporary novelists. Out of the Dark is a moody, expertly rendered tale of a love affair between two drifters.

The narrator, writing in 1995, looks back thirty years to a time when, having abandoned his studies and selling off old art books to get by, he comes to know Gérard Van Bever and Jacqueline, a young, enigmatic couple who seem to live off roulette winnings. He falls in love with Jacqueline; they run off to England together, where they share a few sad, aimless months, until one day she disappears. Fifteen years later, in Paris, they meet again, a reunion that only recalls the haunting inaccessibility of the past: they spend a few hours together, and the next day, Jacqueline, now married, disappears once again. Almost fifteen years after that, he sees her yet again, this time from a distance he chooses not to bridge. A profoundly affecting novel, Out of the Dark is poignant, strange, delicate, melancholy, and sadly hilarious.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 28, 1998
    Well-known in France (this, his 14th novel, was published there in 1996), Modiano tackles characteristic themes of love and loss in this elegiac work. The narrator, a middle-aged writer, looks back to the early 1960s when he was an aimless ex-student who fell in love with Jacqueline, a young drifter. Set in Paris and London, the story unfolds in simple dreamlike sequences. The student has left college and sells used books to eke out a sparse income. The enchanting, enigmatic Jacqueline lives off the men she meets--G rard Van Bever, a salesman ("the smell of ether was always hanging in their room"); Pierre Cartaud, a dentist; Michael Savoundra, a filmwriter; and Peter Rachman, a wealthy real estate dealer--while she yearns to live in sunny Majorca. The student is without ambition; he exists to attend to Jacqueline. His life weaves as willingly with hers as she will allow--until one day she disappears. Years later, they meet again; the student, now the writer, looks back at himself and Jacqueline and concludes: "We had no real qualities, except the one that youth gives to everyone for a very brief time, like a vague promise that will never be kept." This is a tale of life lived within a dream, and there is a motionless quality, as if Paris and London are not quite real, that serves the book's themes well. The unlived lives, the dreams of escape, the use of drugs, the constant appearance and disappearance of people without explanation, the spare symbolic imagery--all staples of Modiano's work--are replayed here to admirable effect, while the author's lucid prose carries the reader into his hermetic world. Translated smoothly by Stump, the narrative offers an accessible introduction to Modiano's work.

  • Library Journal

    October 1, 1998
    The title of this slender contemporary French novel conveys its shadowy and almost elegiac tone. The narrator recounts the course of his love affair with a woman named Jacqueline, describing their day-to-day existence on Paris's Left Bank during the 1960s and then in London. They separate, and after 15 years he encounters her again, but she has changed her name and seems to be denying her past. The character development is skillful, and the translator provides not only an excellent translation but a good introduction to Modiano (Honeymoon, LJ 9/15/93). Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.--Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Silver Spring, MD

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Out of the Dark
Out of the Dark
Patrick Modiano
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