Annie Ernaux: The Return to Origins (Liverpool University by Siobhan McIlvanney

By Siobhan McIlvanney

In this primary serious research in English to concentration completely on Annie Ernaux’s writing trajectory, Siobhán McIlvanney offers a stimulating and demanding research of Ernaux’s person texts. Following a largely feminist hermeneutic, this learn engages in a sequence of provocative shut readings of Ernaux’s works in a flow to focus on the contradictions and nuances in her writing, and to illustrate the highbrow intricacies of her literary venture. by way of so doing, it seeks to introduce new readers to Ernaux’s works, whereas attractive on much less favourite terrain these already accustomed to her writing.

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Example text

With no customers to occupy them, her parents’ constant surveillance of the narrator exacerbates the atmosphere of tension and claustrophobia in the work’s opening section. The narrator’s loneliness is further reinforced by her transitional position both between two social classes – an intermediacy analogous to the ‘middle’ position occupied by her counterpart in Les Armoires vides – and between childhood and adulthood: she may have the physical maturity to enjoy sexual relationships, but does not possess the psychological maturity to cope with their consequences.

143). While generational and class differences reinforce the linguistic divide separating Anne and her parents, Ce qu’ils disent ou rien portrays the consequences rather than the causes of that divide. The work’s shortterm perspective prohibits the more comprehensive analysis of familial divisions provided by Les Armoires vides and La Femme gelée. 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.

35 Anne fears that she may be considered ‘braque’ or ‘folle’ (CDR, p. 36) if she discloses her sexual desires. Throughout Ce qu’ils disent ou rien, the narrator differentiates between sex or sexual fantasies and their representation in language, between the private and public realm: it is above all when such fantasies are voiced that they become morally reprehensible. As in Passion simple, it is the potential misappropriation of her sexual experiences by others which most concerns the narrator: ‘La chaleur me donnait des idées gluantes dont j’aurais eu honte de parler aux autres, mais que je n’avais pas honte d’avoir’ (CDR, p.

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