"Entrer par effraction": reading and writing subjects in Annie Ernaux's recent work

Janes, Matthew (2011) "Entrer par effraction": reading and writing subjects in Annie Ernaux's recent work. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This thesis examines Annie Ernaux's four most recent texts - Se perdre (2001), L 'Occupation (2002), L'Usage de la photo (2005), and Les Années (2008) as well as L'ecriture comme un couteau (2002) and investigates the past twenty years of Ernaux scholarship. I argue that Ernaux's recent writing, like her earlier work, explores the postmodern notion of the subject as an ongoing process constructed in relation to and with others. I further suggest that Ernaux's recent writing both continues to emphasize reprisal and revision and is increasingly preoccupied with real and imagined reader/author relationships.
In my analysis of Ernaux criticism, I suggest that these often imagined reader/author relationships are also made tangible in Ernaux's relationships with many of her critics. I examine how Ernaux's relationships with her critics have evolved in this later phase of her career, focusing both on how Ernaux plays an increasingly active role in shaping her own critical reception and how both she and her recent works are constructed by critics. In a new analysis of Ernaux's academic reception, I argue that just as Ernaux co-writes her romances with her partners, so, too, does she playa role in constructing her critical reception through her involvement with what I term her academic interpretive community. I suggest that through her involvement in shaping her own reception, Ernaux demystifies objective literary criticism and further enables critics to declare their status as both scholars and fans. I further argue that Ernaux helps shape the language of her own criticism and questions the use of traditional literary terminology to analyze her work, and I outline some of the ways in which 'Ernaux' and her works have been constructed in critical settings and texts.
Finally, I investigate the manner in which readers of all types discursively construct 'Ernaux.' In order to do so, I embark upon the first analysis of online constructions of Ernaux's work, focusing on the reception of her most recent text, Les Annees, as well as constructions of 'Ernaux' herself. I develop the idea of Ernaux's discursive space and assess the manner in which the discourse used to construct 'Ernaux' and her work is similar to and different from that employed by professional readers. I further construct discursive categories that reflect the various ways in which 'Ernaux' is constructed not only by devoted fans and detractors (as previous Ernaux scholarship has shown) but also more casual readers, whose voices are, in a contemporary setting, increasingly merged with those of the critics and, indeed, with that of Ernaux herself.

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