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“One Train May Hide Another”: Arnaud Rykner’s Le Wagon as Authentic Fiction

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Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide

29 Russell Square

London

WC1B 5DP

United Kingdom

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Originally published in 2010 (Rouergue), and then in 2012 (Actes Sud), Le Wagon is the sixth work of fiction of French novelist, playwright and scholar, Arnaud Rykner. The novel follows a twenty-two-year-old Jewish resister, deported on Convoy no. 7909, on 2 July 1944. The train, which he boarded together with 2165 other men (mostly resisters, but not only), was the last one to leave Compiègne for Dachau. Since at least 536 of the deportees perished during a journey lasting two and a half days, the convoy became known as “the train of death.” While this may sound like the title of a horror film, the horror of this journey was very much real. The ordeal of the deportees, who were dying or going insane because of the stifling heat, thirst and lack of fresh air, has been amply documented by historians. In this context, can Le Wagon be considered a novel?

In his talk, Arnaud Rykner will discuss his book’s generic status and relation to historical documents and testimonies, as well as the role of historical fiction in attaining and transmitting the truth about the Holocaust.

About the Speaker

Arnaud Rykner is a French novelist, playwright, essayist, and professor. He is a member of the Institut Universitaire de France and has taught previously at the University of Caen and the University of Toulouse, where he directed the LLA (Letters, Languages and Arts) CREATIS laboratory from 2002 to 2011. Since 2011 he has worked at the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle.


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Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide

29 Russell Square

London

WC1B 5DP

United Kingdom

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