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

By Siobhan McIlvanney

During this first severe learn in English to concentration completely on Annie Ernaux’s writing trajectory, Siobh?n McIlvanney presents a stimulating and hard research of Ernaux’s person texts. Following a largely feminist hermeneutic, this examine engages in a chain of provocative shut readings of Ernaux’s works in a circulation 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 attractive on much less usual terrain these already accustomed to her writing.

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Additional info for Annie Ernaux: The Return to Origins (Liverpool University Press - Modern French Writers)

Sample text

That desire for eradication is further expressed in Anne’s choice of heterosexual partner. Like Denise before her, Anne’s motivation for losing her virginity to Mathieu is less a positive affirmation of her feelings towards him than a vengeful gesture towards her milieu and a means of liberating herself from the maternal. Indeed, immediately after her first sexual experience, she exclaims ‘si ma mère me voyait’ (CDR, p. ). 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.

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.

174). 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.

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