Vida imaginada de Irène Némirovsky

Caroline Moorehead reseña en The Times Literary Supplement el libro The Mirador. Dreamed memories of Irène Némirovsky by her daughter, la autobiografía imaginada de Irène Némirovsky, escrita por su hija Élisabeth Gille: un elegante y vivo retrato de una mujer inteligente, crítica, educada (leía con obsesión en ruso, francés e inglés; amaba la música, el baile), extremadamente senbible, que vivió y escribió en una época difícil y trágica, hasta que fue capturada y llevada a Auschwitz. Les dejo un framgento del comentario:

When Élisabeth Gille, Irène Némirovsky’s younger daughter, was five, her mother was arrested and deported, as a Jew, to Auschwitz. Her father, Michel Epstein, was taken a few months later. She never saw either of them again. Élisabeth and her sister Denise were sheltered by nuns and a devoted family friend and survived.

It was almost fifty years before Gille felt able to confront the life and death of her talented mother, and she chose to do so not in the form of a memoir but as an imagined autobiography, as written by Némirovsky herself. It draws heavily on Némirovsky’s published and unpublished works, as well as her letters, notes and diaries, though it is softer than much of her mother’s work in tone. The result, only momentarily disconcerting, is a lively, elegantly written portrait of a woman who lived and wrote through tumultuous times. It does much to compensate for the lacklustre biography of Némirovsky by Olivier Philipponnat and Patrick Lienhardt, which appeared in French in 2007 (and in English translation in 2010, TLS, April 30, 2010).

The Mirador – a tower with a commanding view, according to the OED – was first published in France, to great acclaim, in 1992, not long before Gille’s death and considerably earlier than the publication of Suite française, with its rapid, worldwide success, which had been rediscovered and transcribed with the help of a magnifying glass by Denise. Up until then, Gille had made her career in editing and translation, mainly of science fiction. Already ill, with only a couple of years left to live, she went on to write a short novel based on what happened to her and her sister after their parents’ disappearance, as well as a caustic, even comic, account of dealing with the cancer that eventually killed her.

Némirovsky grew up in Kiev and St Petersburg, the only child of a fiendish mother – later the barely disguised villain of many of her novels – and a doting banker father. She had a much-loved governess, Mlle Rose, a small woman who wore blouses with stiff high collars. They were rich and fashionable and Gille evokes cruises down the Dnieper on a steamboat to faded country estates, magical rides on troikas through scented countryside, and train journeys to Odessa on the fabled Courrier, in which compartments were carpeted in Aubusson rugs with a rose bouquet motif, and the champagne was served so cold that icicles formed in the crystal glasses. The Mirador is rich in scents and tastes. The Russian Revolution found the family in St Petersburg, where Némirovsky read her way through enforced housebound idleness, until she and her mother fled to Finland, their peasant disguise clinking with the rattle of the jewellery sewn into their petticoats

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