Annie Ernaux

"It touches on themes of love, sex and desire as a synonym for power; the body, sexuality, abortion, falling out of love, time, the question of gender and social classes– emphasizes that money makes things easier; describes the experience of a class upgrade through education and its approach to machismo before the student marches of May 68 in France."
Por Dafne Venet
Oct 11, 2022

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Annie Ernaux was born in Lillebonne (Normandy) in 1940. During her childhood she lived in Yvetot until she moved to Rouen to pursue her university studies. She dedicated herself professionally to being a teacher of modern letters. She is also the author of multiple literary works. Annie excelled in the literary genres of autobiography, history, sociology, and fiction, however, she moved away from fiction with her work A Man’s Place. In this process, she has invented narrative forms that constitute new directions in the writing of life. Her writings are credited as “autosociobiographies” with A Man’s Place, A Woman’s Story, and Shame that explore her own life and that of her parents.

In her novels she tackles themes such as memory to understand who we are and not to glorify who we were.

It touches on themes of love, sex and desire as a synonym for power; the body, sexuality, abortion, falling out of love, time, the question of gender and social classes– emphasizes that money makes things easier; describes the experience of a class upgrade through education and its approach to machismo before the student marches of May 68 in France.

“class origin and feminism are two crucial axes when writing, they run through everything I write. (…) For me, writing is in itself a feminist commitment. But not linked to the content, not because I tell ‘women’s stories’, but because I do it from the point of view of a woman, and I think that already contributes to broadening the way in which the world is seen, puts a brake on the masculine conception of the world that still prevails”.

Her prose in several of her works are rough, she cares about the intention of her words and the way they are interpreted, taking to the extreme that even the minimum detail can condemn or save a life. 

In one of her novels, Memoria de chica, she narrates her thoughts in a fragmented way to represent the function of memories – torrential, sporadic and brief; aware that memory is forged through invention, because we never capture things as they were.

Overall, in this month of October of the current year, the author Annie Ernaux won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Nobel Prize jury has highlighted “the courage and clinical acuity with which Ernaux’s writing reveals the roots, estrangements and collective brakes of memory.”

Dafne Venet

Dafne Venet

Arts & Books writer of The Bookish Man.
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