By Siobhan McIlvanney
During this first severe learn in English to concentration solely on Annie Ernaux’s writing trajectory, Siobh?n McIlvanney presents a stimulating and difficult research of Ernaux’s person texts. Following a greatly feminist hermeneutic, this research engages in a sequence of provocative shut readings of Ernaux’s works in a circulate to focus on the contradictions and nuances in her writing, and to illustrate the highbrow intricacies of her literary venture. through so doing, it seeks to introduce new readers to Ernaux’s works, whereas enticing on much less common terrain these already acquainted with her writing.
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Extra resources for Annie Ernaux: The Return to Origins (Liverpool University Press - Modern French Writers)
Like Denise, Anne strives to free herself from the sexually oppressive atmosphere at home and school, to transgress classist and sexist codes of conduct, through the physical. Anne’s wish to have sexual relations with Mathieu in order to escape the constraints of her working-class background extends to linguistic constraints – she feels both intellectually and sexually imprisoned, ‘quadrillée de leurs mots’ (CDR, p. p65 42 04/06/01, 14:20 The Early Years 43 pensais alors, je saurai m’exprimer’ (CDR, p.
P65 34 04/06/01, 14:20 The Early Years 35 these works, within the retrospective narrative of Ce qu’ils disent ou rien the thrust is very much forward-looking – the youth of the narrator and her adolescent impatience to gain sexual experience lead her to focus firmly on the present and future, as exemplified in her tendency to state her age as ‘bientôt seize ans’ (CDR, p. 19). From the work’s opening, Anne experiences detachment from the discourse of her parents, and – whether she be subject of the énoncé or of the énonciation – bemoans the inadequacies of language to provide meaningful articulation of her feelings.
Flattered to be considered an honorary member of the middle class through her relationships with men, the narrator looks back on her previous self with ironic detachment. Throughout Ernaux’s writing, the use of irony is indicative of middle-class status:21 ‘je regarde ironiquement la grognasse que j’étais hier encore’ (LAV, p. 154). That detachment transmutes into a quasi-masochistic pleasure in being seduced by men who denigrate her – if ridicule reflects class difference, then the greater the humiliation, the more impressive the narrator’s ‘catch’.