The present chapter is not concerned with questions of literary quality, but rather with questions of literary success. Bourdieu’s conceptual framework provides a useful vocabulary for discussing literary success. A contextual approach to literary history and analysis relies on the notion that a work does not simply impose itself through its innate aesthetic qualities. This is a myth-a myth in which we may still need to believe, but a myth nonetheless. Literary success must be evaluated through analysis of the textual traces left by the creators of that success: those who caused the book to be produced and sold, and those who encouraged people to buy and read the text. Therefore it is by analysing the role of publishers and of critics in Némirovsky’s literary trajectory that her success can best be appreciated. Bourdieu writes,

Il suffi t de poser la question interdite pour s’apercevoir que l’artiste qui fait l’œuvre est lui-même fait, au sein du champ de production, par tout l’ensemble de ceux qui contribuent à le ‘découvrir’ et à le consacrer en tant qu’artiste ‘connu’ et reconnu-critiques, préfaciers, marchands, etc. Ainsi, par exemple, le commerçant d’art (marchand de tableaux, éditeur, etc.) est inséparablement celui qui exploite le travail de l’artiste en faisant commerce de ses produits et celui qui, en le mettant sur le marché des biens symboliques, par l’exposition, la publication ou la mise en scène, assure au produit de la fabrication artistique

une consécration d’autant plus importante qu’il est lui-même plus consacré.[emphasis in original]1

It is enough to pose the forbidden question to perceive that the artist who makes the work is himself made, at the core of the fi eld of production, by the whole ensemble of those who help to ‘discover’ him and to consecrate him as an artist who is ‘known’ and recognized-critics, writers of prefaces, dealers, etc. Thus, for example, the merchant in art (dealer in paintings, publisher, etc.) is inseparably both the one who exploits the work of the artist by making commerce of his products and the one who, in putting it on the market of symbolic goods through exhibition, publication or staging, ensures that the product of artistic fabrication will receive a consecration-and the consecration will be greater the more consecrated the merchant himself is.2