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Ce qu'ils disent ou rien by Annie Ernaux

Ce qu'ils disent ou rien

by Annie Ernaux

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    Mémoire de fille by Annie Ernaux (thorold)
    thorold: Ce qu'ils disent ou rien is a fictional treatment of the same period in her life that Ernaux explores (40 years later) in the autobiographical Mémoire de fille.

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In her most recent book, Mémoire de fille (2016), Ernaux tells us that she hadn't previously been able to face writing about herself as a teenager - that was a slightly disingenuous statement, it turns out: this, her second novel, published forty years before Mémoire de fille, is quite simply a fictional treatment of the same events, rearranged, compressed in time, and thinly disguised. The narrator, Anne (!), is 15, wishing that she could just wake up one morning married with two children and a not-too-bad-job, skipping all this painful in-between stage of growing up - haven't we all wished that at some point? She has just passed her BEPC exam, and faces a summer of idleness before starting at her new school in September. Of course, she's burning with curiosity about sex, and item number one on the plans for the holiday period is to lose her virginity. And of course she does, and the results are not very satisfactory: even in these enlightened 1950s, it seems that boys still get to crow over their successes and girls still have to face humiliation and embarrassment...

This is no more a romantic "first love" story than Mémoire de fille is - in fact, Ernaux in her thirties seems to convey the frustration and anger of the teenager even more powerfully than she does in her more detached and analytical seventies. And as always, it's a pleasure to listen to her narrative voice, cleverly manipulating the teenage slang of the period and the clichés of the older generation to devastating effect. ( )
1 vote thorold | Nov 19, 2017 |
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