Organised by Danielle Bajomée and Juliette Dor, the study day ‘Annie Ernaux: se perdre dans l’écriture de soi’ (‘Annie Ernaux, a journey into life-writing’, PDF programme) took place in Liège in December 2008. Annie Ernaux was not able to take part in person, but she gave a phone interview and answered questions from the audience. The study day led to the publication Annie Ernaux. Se perdre dans l’écriture de soi (Klincksieck, 2011).
Annie Ernaux’s work has a high profile in the French literary landscape, firstly in terms of her prolific creativity; then because she has won several prizes and become the focus of academic commentary; because she achieves the paradox of being both revered and reviled – due to her ‘excessive’ popularity; finally through her own strange claim of remaining, in her own words, ‘in a way, below literature’.
The various contributions published in our collection were brought together at an Ernaux study day at the University of Liège, and were written soon after the publication of The Years. They sketch out some of the guiding principles structuring the author’s imaginary, balanced between textual austerity and accumulation to the point of saturation; these commentaries ceaselessly interrogate the movement of the past, from one book to the next, glimpsed through the moments Ernaux recreates, and which seem to combine the banality of the facts recounted with the poignant intensity of her ‘never more’; they highlight, finally, the active, structuring and destructive power of the social context in what we consider to be our most intimate and personal experiences.
(Translation into English by Lyn Thomas)