Paniers à salade: Itinéraire en pays modianesque

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Since its first appearance in the novel La Place de l’étoile (1968), the motif of the police van (panier à salade) has never stopped showing up in Modiano’s works. This article focusses on the scene with the police van in seven novels, in order to show its obsessional character. The analysis shows that the police van appears in a scenario which the reader recognizes from one novel to another, despite some slight differences. In its most recurrent form, the scenario develops as follows: a character who has been stopped by the police can’t prove his/her identity and is transported to the police station in a van. The analysis also shows that this vehicle is emblematic of the past, which is the very substance of Modiano’s novels: on the one hand the collective past (the persecutions of the Jews during the German occupation of France) and on the other the individual past (a loveless relationship between the homodiegetic narrator and mostly his father, during the sixties). This article suggests that the very particular re-writing process at work in Modiano’s novels, where the same motifs, places and kinds of character reappear from one novel to another, creating a strong impression of autobiographical authenticity, presupposes a specific kind of reader, who reads more than one single novel and who needs to re-read.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Specific Literatures


  • Modiano, police van, homodiegetic narrator, re-writing, occupation, autobiography, Mots-clés : Modiano, panier à salade, narrateur homodiégétique, réécriture, autobiographie
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)61-83
Number of pages23
JournalModerna Sprak
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun 29
Publication categoryResearch