Ending in the Middle: Revisioning Adoption in Binjamin Wilkomirski’s Fragments and Anne Michaels’s Fugitive Pieces

Barbara L. EstrinStonehill College
Vol. 21, No. 2 (Fall 2002), 275-300

This article explores the influenced of the foundling plot (where a child gone missing is raised by strangers but recovers its birthright at the end) on Binjamin Wilkomirski’s Fragments and Anne Michaels’s Fugitive Pieces, published within a year of each other in the late 1990’s. In what he contends is a memoir, Wilkomirski disparages his adoptive parents and maintains that his biological family was lost in the Holocaust and found years later, a claim proven false by researchers. Insisting that her work (also involving a child orphaned in the war) is totally fiction, Michaels proposes a revisionist take on the ancient plot. Overturning traditional ideas of motherhood, Michaels changes the cultural mindset that governs Wilkomirski’s predetermined expectations.  When she demonstrates that the middle period of the plot provides a satisfying end in itself, Michaels defends adoption,  rewriting the formula and thereby challenging the imperative that we continue to be, in Witold Gombrowicz’s terms, “constructed by the construction” of mythical authenticity.


Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]