Irène Némirovsky’s life was quite paradoxical. She is one of the most interesting writers of her time, but the value of her work was only appreciated many decades after her death. Her own mother had hidden a couple of her best manuscripts, probably because she felt personally alluded to in them.
Irène Némirovsky came from a Jewish family . Although he deeply rejected some questions of that religion, especially those related to the economic. In fact, he converted to Catholicism in February 1939.
She was also a great friend of well-known anti-Semites, such as Brasillach, who, precisely, was shot at the end of World War II for his racial intolerance.
“Every day that passes and that you have lost to love is a tragedy.”
However, her conversion and her ideas did not free her from being imprisoned and led to a concentration camp. In the eyes of Nazism, it was enough that he had a Jewish origin. The persecution, however, had started long before she was taken to the concentration camp; Irène Némirovsky spent a good part of her life fleeing as a consequence of her origin.
A life of escapes, personal struggles and warlike conflicts that, finally, found refuge in books. Books that would give him the power to write and translate his voice into texts that survived time and that we can enjoy today.
The origin of Irène Némirovsky
Irène Némirovsky was born on February 11, 1903 in Kiev. His father, Leon Némirovsky, was a prosperous grain merchant who, in time and after becoming a banker, would enrich himself to become one of the richest men in Russia. His mother, Fanny Némirovsky, had been born in Odessa to be an aristocrat and motherhood was not in her plans.
Irène Némirovsky’s mother only got pregnant because her husband asked her demandingly. It was what was expected of a marriage: to have children. Yet Fanny did not want it. When she had her daughter Irène, she began to fear as she grew up. She was obsessed with age and saw her daughter’s growth as a threat to her vanity.
Irène Némirovsky adored her father even though he was absent most of the time for his business and his fondness for casinos. Her mother, on the other hand, took her on vacation , but while she stayed in luxurious hotels, Irène had to stay in modest inns with the maids and her tutor.
With the Russian Revolution things changed for the family. The new communist government declared all the former potentates enemies, among them Leon Némirovsky. The family was forced to hide in St. Petersburg, waiting for the situation to stabilize; But when it did not happen, they decided to escape.
They left Russia disguised as peasants. After passing through Stockholm, they arrived in France, where they settled and a new life began for them. Already at that time, Irène Némirovsky wrote. He did it with a unique passion and in a challenging tone. He had only known his mother’s heartbreak and his father’s absence. That had led her to be a voracious reader and later a stark writer.
During the time the family was in refuge, Irène read all the works of Oscar Wilde, became familiar with Plato’s philosophy, and read the most important novelists of his time. Thanks to the sad trips she had made with her mother, she also spoke five languages.
Happiness and misfortune
In 1926, Irène Némirovsky married Michel Epstein, whom she had met at a dance, and in the next 10 years, she published nine novels. When the Nazis invaded France, he began working on his greatest work: The French Suite. In it, he speaks frankly and with trepidation about the attitude of the French towards the invader, of the frivolity and even the admiration they professed for him.
Because they are Jews, she and her husband begin to be discriminated against. Difficult times are coming, reaching their climax when Irène Némirovsky is arrested by the Nazis on April 24, 1942. By then, she already had two daughters, Denise and Elizabeth. They first took her to a French concentration camp and then deported her to Germany, where she died that same year.
Her husband would also be arrested and deported shortly thereafter and passed away three months after Irène’s death. His daughters, on the other hand, had a little more luck; They also went looking for them, but they managed to hide thanks to the help of a teacher.
Meanwhile, Irène Némirovsky’s mother was enjoying a vacation on the Côte d’Azur; his money helped him get through the war without any problem.
When her granddaughters looked for her years later, she told them that since their parents had died, they should go to an orphanage. It was the girls who cared for their mother’s manuscripts with singular care.
Irène Némirovsky’s life was overshadowed from childhood and, finally, prematurely cut short by the war. His texts were silent for years, but finally saw the light and were rediscovered at the end of the 20th century. Her words regained her voice and, in this way, the author acquired recognition and immortality in her work.
Biography of Viktor Frankl, the father of logotherapy
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