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 tough research of Ernaux’s person texts. Following a extensively feminist hermeneutic, this learn engages in a chain of provocative shut readings of Ernaux’s works in a stream to spotlight 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 attractive on much less common terrain these already accustomed to her writing.
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Extra resources for Annie Ernaux: The Return to Origins (Liverpool University Press - Modern French Writers)
72). p65 27 04/06/01, 14:20 28 Annie Ernaux: The Return to Origins sexually, all of which, in different ways, signal a severance from her social class through a rejection of its value system. Education represents a form of innoculation against the influence of her working-class environment, in that the imaginary vistas it conjures up allow Denise to enjoy vicarious experience of a world beyond the parameters of her milieu. Indeed, so desperate is she to eschew a working-class future that she considers prostitution – or a somewhat idealised version of it – preferable to marrying within the working class: ‘Je partais, je m’évadais, je cherchais dans le Larousse les mots étranges, volupté, lupanar, rut, les définitions me plongeaient dans des rêveries chaudes, destin blanc et or, salles de bains orientales, je me coulais dans des cercles de bras et de jambes parfumés’ (LAV, p.
58). This overriding focus on sexuality which permeates the text from the narrator’s earliest childhood to her young adulthood can be attributed to the abortion she is undergoing in the present, to the sexual origins of her current suffering. There is no sentimentalisation of abortion on the part of the narrator, but it is presented as a pragmatic, if temporarily unpleasant, solution to an unwanted pregnancy; in other words, it is not merely the subject matter of the work which may be disturbing for the reader, but, equally, the blunt manner of its reporting: ‘Je sais seulement que ça meurt petit à petit, ça s’éteint, ça se noie dans les poches gorgées de sang, d’humeurs filantes … Et que ça part.
54). The narrator learns the art of duplicity in order to gain acceptance and enjoys the power academic success brings, until the ludic aspect of her academic participation acquires more sinister overtones, signalling her allegiance to a class hierarchy which judges her home environment as inferior. If the ‘middle’ position occupied by the narrator during her early years is one of security, safely ensconced between her parents, it comes to acquire more claustrophobic and limiting associations as the halcyon days of childhood recede into the past: ‘Ligotée.