chapter  9
Family Archive Fever: Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost MARC AMFREVILLE
Pages 17

While borrowing its English translation as a title for the present article, and however sensitive to the rich, all-consuming associations linked to the word “fever” undoubtedly present in Derrida’s text, one may wish to turn back to the original French title-Mal d’archive-to retrieve several possible reading directions, all connected to our study of Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost (2006). Mal d’archive, more conspicuously perhaps than “fever,” simultaneously refers to a desire informing the delving for archives and to the harrowing lack of documents and traces.1 It moreover subterraneously seems to indicate that the very act of constituting an archive is painful in itself, which we are willing to believe, if we consider that it took Daniel Mendelsohn several years to write his book, not to mention the inevitably devastating confrontation with the few surviving witnesses of part of his family’s destruction during the Shoah. Finally, in a less expected way, the French genitive form suggests that the archive itself suff ers, thus pointing to its necessarily lacunary nature, perhaps even to its link to the structure of trauma, starting etymologically and psychologically from a wound.