On connaît la musique. Cultural life during the siege of Leningrad in La Vie d’un homme inconnu by Andreï Makine

Helena Duffy


The present article focuses on the representation of the cultural life during the siege of Leningrad (1941-1944) in Andreï Makine’s eleventh novel. Analysing the portrait of the blockade created by La Vie d’un homme inconnu (2009) in the light of historical works and personal writings, I demonstrate that despite its apparent wish to contest the official version of the blockade Makine ends up endorsing some of the myths established by Soviet propaganda. He thus emphasises the Leningraders’ heroism, altruism and high level of culture, representing the blokadniki as active defenders of the city rather than helpless victims of both the atrocious conditions imposed by the siege and Stalinist terror. Consequently, although the novel may seem to belong to the canon of historiographic metafiction which systematically questions official historiography and gives voice to those excluded from making and writing History, a careful reading of the Franco-Russian author’s eleventh work of fiction reveals its conservative — not to say reactionary — character, even if La Vie d’un homme inconnu may be challenging another dominant discourse regarding the Soviet Union’s role in World War II, namely that forged in the West.


Andreï Makine; World War II; great patriotic war; siege of Leningrad; music; postmodernism; historiographic metafiction


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17951/lsmll.2015.39.1.142
Data publikacji: 2016-01-04 11:13:51
Data złożenia artykułu: 2015-12-21 12:43:09


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