Finding Irène Némirovsky

Angela Kershaw*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article1 traces the construction of Irène Némirovsky's literary reputation in inter-war France, drawing on Bourdieu's notion of the literary field. It aims to go beyond the ethical interpretation of her life and work in relation to the Holocaust to examine both its aesthetic and its sociological significance in the inter-war period. The article first examines Némirovsky as a popular writer, showing how she succeeded in establishing herself as a commercially successful and critically acclaimed novelist. It then considers the relevance of her Russian origins and her Jewish identity to her literary production. It analyses the ways in which she drew on her Russian identity in order to locate her writing in relation to the inter-war French fascination with la mode russe. Finally, it addresses the existence of anti-Semitic stereotypes in Némirovsky's early work, approaching this problematic aspect of her textual production from a cultural rather than a psychological perspective.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)59-81
    Number of pages23
    JournalFrench Cultural Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007


    • French inter-war literature
    • Jews
    • La mode russe
    • Némirovsky
    • Russia


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