Reconciling History in Alain Resnais’s L’Année dernière à Marienbad (1961)

  • Hannah Mowat
  • Emma Wilson
Part of the The Holocaust and Its Contexts book series (HOLC)


In W. G. Sebald’s novel Austerlitz there is brief mention of the spa town Marienbad, in the Karlovy Vary region of the Czech Republic. Marienbad, for Sebald’s eponymous character, Austerlitz, is a peace-time destination, a location of memory, of serenity, before the madness to come. Austerlitz, who as a Jewish child will be sent away from Central Europe on a Kindertransport to England, losing his bearings, his parents, his history in this momentous journey, is, far after the war, brought to remember Marienbad. His memory of this summer retreat, and its loveliness, is already ghosted by his departure. He left for England from the same station from which the family departed, just the year before, for Marienbad. This coincidence is recalled for Austerlitz far in the future as he hears a narrative of his life from Vera, his former nursery maid: Towards evening, when I said goodbye to Vera, holding her weightless hands in mine, she suddenly remembered how, on the day of my departure from the Wilsonova station, Agáta had turned to her when the train disappeared from view, and said: We left from here for Marienbad only last summer. And now — where will we be going now?


Material Trace Jewish Child Nazi Concentration Camp Concentrationary Universe Grand Hotel 
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  1. L’Année dernière à Marienbad/Last Year in Marienbad, Dir. A. Resnais (Optimum Home Entertainment, 2005 [1961]) [on DVD]Google Scholar
  2. Hiroshima mon amour, Dir. A. Resnais (Arte Vidéo/Argos Films, 2004 [1959]) [on DVD]Google Scholar
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  4. Le chant du styrène/The Song of Styrene, Dir. A. Resnais (Arte Vidéo/Argos Films, 2004 [1959] as an extra on the DVD of Muriel ou le temps d’un retour) [on DVD]Google Scholar
  5. Muriel ou Le temps d’un retour/Muriel or The Time of Return, Dir. A. Resnais (Arte Vidéo/Argos Films, 2004 [1963]) [on DVD]Google Scholar
  6. Toute la mémoire du monde/All the Memory in the World, Dir. A. Resnais (Arte Vidéo/Argos Films, 2004[1956]) [on DVD]Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Hannah Mowat with Emma Wilson 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hannah Mowat
  • Emma Wilson

There are no affiliations available

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