By Siobhan McIlvanney
During this first severe research in English to concentration completely on Annie Ernaux’s writing trajectory, Siobh?n McIlvanney presents a stimulating and difficult research of Ernaux’s person texts. Following a generally feminist hermeneutic, this research engages in a chain of provocative shut readings of Ernaux’s works in a circulate to spotlight the contradictions and nuances in her writing, and to illustrate the highbrow intricacies of her literary undertaking. via so doing, it seeks to introduce new readers to Ernaux’s works, whereas enticing on much less usual terrain these already accustomed to her writing.
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Extra info for Annie Ernaux: The Return to Origins (Liverpool University Press - Modern French Writers)
The illicit nature of these conversations produces vicarious sexual desire in the narrator, which she partly satisfies by taking food from the shop, an act which, through its own minor transgression of parental laws, enhances her pleasure. Denise’s early childhood is portrayed as a Rabelaisian festival of the senses, as she indulges her need for physical gratification through touch and taste: ‘Chaud aux cuisses d’y penser, bouche ouverte, collante de sucre …’ (LAV, p. p65 21 04/06/01, 14:20 22 Annie Ernaux: The Return to Origins transference of sexual gratification to the act of eating which follows such conversations results in a highly erotic experience, as illustrated in the narrator’s correlation of comestible and sexual pleasure when she hides her sweets ‘dans la culotte, le seul endroit où on n’ira pas farfouiller’ (LAV, p.
32 The narrator’s appropriation of bourgeois values is less notable in Ce qu’ils disent ou rien than in Les Armoires vides due to both the minor role played by education in the work and the greater financial security of Anne’s parents. Indeed, when compared to the framing works of the trilogy, the reader is obliged to take up a more ‘proactive’ role when interpreting the content of Ce qu’ils disent ou rien. While the narrator in La Femme gelée is a wife and mother when she relates her retrospective account and the narrator in Les Armoires vides has left home to attend university, their counterpart in Ce qu’ils disent ou rien has only recently experienced the events she describes: she has neither the reflective nor the geographical distance to understand, and make explicit, their significance.
Similarly, while pretence plays a prime role in facilitating her acceptance at school, it later becomes a necessary survival tactic in her home environment: ‘Pour m’en sortir, il fallait fermer les yeux, faire comme si je mangeais, lisais, dormais dans un vague hôtel’ (LAV, p. 16 Reinforcing this volte-face in the narrator’s attribution of values is her reversal of the Manichaean judgements made earlier, in that she now views middle-class people as ‘gens bien’ (LAV, pp. ), and refers to the middle class in general as ‘milieux bien’ (LAV, p.
Annie Ernaux: The Return to Origins (Liverpool University Press - Modern French Writers) by Siobhan McIlvanney