The 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature goes to the French writer Annie Ernaux

The online betting sites announced it among the favorites for a few days. They were right: Annie Ernaux was awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday October 6th. They crowned the career of the author of Years (Gallimard, 2008), born 1940.

Annie Ernaux is the 16th French writer to receive the 8 million kronor (about 740,000 euros) award since 1901, eight years after Patrick Modiano, the first French author and the 17th woman – she succeeds Tanzanian novelist Abdelrazak Gurnah on in 2021.

“I feel it is a very great honor to be bestowed on me and at the same time a great responsibility for me, a responsibility that the Nobel Prize confers on me.”the winner reacted to Swedish television SVT. “That is, to testify (…) a form of fairness, of justice towards the world”She added.

Writing as a requirement “that cannot be left alone”

What is celebrated globally in this way is a work that practices autobiography (a term she however rejects) only to tell a story, feelings, shared emotions. A work admirable for its consistency, the writing of which was always felt to be a claim by its author “who cannot rest”Sentence by sentence, book by book, focused on attempting to clarify reality in order to access the understanding and expression of a truth about existence otherwise inaccessible.

This is the fundamental power that Annie Ernaux attributes to this exercise, which, according to one person who has always been willing to comment generously on her work in interviews, lies in “between literature, sociology and history”.

The denial of beauty

Of Empty closets (Gallimard, 1974). girl memory (Gallimard, 2016), about The placeand The event (Gallimard, 1983 and 2000) or even Look at the lights, my love (Seuil, 2014), the writer devoted to the extreme left made a major contribution to the development of French literature and beyond.

She worked to disrupt the literary order as she wished to shake the social order by writing about objects in the same way “regarded as unworthy of literature”such as abortion, RER, supermarkets and others, held for more “noble” – Time, memory, oblivion. By also refusing an ornamental vision of the movement in favor of a form of neatness and dryness – a “shallow writing” which testifies to his distrust of the beauty of language and the forms of domination they exercise and reproduce.

“I wouldn’t have made it here if…” Article reserved for our subscribers Annie Ernaux: “I only thought about disobedience”

A class defector

Annie Ernaux’s work, begun 48 years ago and closely linked to her life, is firmly in step with the times. The researcher, essayist and critic Dominique Viart notes that in Annie Ernaux: Time and Memory (Stock, 2014), this is her “At the center of the concerns of the last decades. Her attention is drawn both to the major societal issues – class difference, sociocultural distinction, female entitlements… – and to the categories that art or thought have recently come to the fore – issues of memory and everyday life, heritage and ancestry. She is deeply involved in the discussion of such crucial literary phenomena as the return of the subject and autofiction, and participates in the debates that literature is having today with the humanities.”

Born in Lillebonne (Seine-Maritime), she was raised in her parents’ café-grocery shop in Yvetot, which allowed her to be crossbred at a very early age, “through all kinds of conversations and languages”, to become aware of even the subtlest social hierarchies, the smallest forms of domination. Her exposure to a more middle-class world through her studies (which led her to associate professor of French) and her marriage made her a “class defector,” and it was that gap, that tension, that was fed by guilt and shame, remorse, too Tenderness from which writing arises.

Also read (2019): Article reserved for our subscribers Annie Ernaux, Portrait of a Social Novelist

“The Years”, his masterpiece

Annie Ernaux’s latest book came out in France this year: this is it Young man (Gallimard). Widely read and admired in her country by critics and the public, the subject of numerous theses, the author was probably rendered “noble” by translation into English in 2018, ten years after its first publication, which is considered his masterpiece: Years. This text begins with a certainty: “All Images Will Disappear”and ends with a writer’s hope: “To save something from the time we’ll never be in again. »

Between the two, a life is told in the distant and impersonal way of the third person, that of Ernaux, with the development of the world over the years in the background. Sliding from ‘they’ to ‘we’ to ‘us’, this book, whose working title was ‘Total Roman’, is a masterful text on individual memory and collective memory, what makes us individuals and generations, classes… Anyone who it has read it cannot be surprised by the choice of the swedish academy.

Read the interview with Annie Ernaux published in 2016: Article reserved for our subscribers Annie Ernaux: “Literature is Dissolving”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *