Self -writing, of course, is more than just morality. “The Young Man”, by Annie Ernaux, begins from an adventure, which becomes a story, between her, the narrator, and a student thirty years younger than her. In this short novel of nearly forty pages, the great novelist raises a new taboo.
“If I don’t write it down, things aren’t over yet, they’re just alive,” says the Proustian epigraph in Annie Ernaux’s latest book, “Le Jeune Homme”. The author analyzes as an entomologist the relationship at a time that, for a woman, accompanies an idyll with a young man. “I’m out of age and drift every now and then into semi-consciousness.” Or again: “He tore me from my offspring, but I am not his.” As is often the case with Annie Ernaux, sociology has a big place: their relationship is lived under the eyes of society. And while the young lover returns to her the pictures of the girl in the modest take that she, young, but also bourgeois she has become, thanks to her success in literature and her course of life. “He was the bearer of the memory of my first world.”
With one existing only under A.’s name, the present is only a “duplicated past”, so this relationship transforms his life into “a unique and ongoing palimpsest”. Paradoxically, we have an initiative novel of the oldest character. Annie Ernaux has no compromise on dissecting the impact of age difference. His sincerity, in old age, in the recovery of time, “with him, my memory seems forever to me”, is so sad, that one wonders if, in the opposite situation, a man with a younger wife there is too much. …
But it’s not because of the age difference between the characters in this that this novel is disturbing. This is because it is a story of an instrumentalization. The narrator begins this amorous adventure, he writes it himself, for the “desire to trigger the writing of the book”: “The main reason I want to continue this story is that it is, in a way, it has already happened., that I am the fictional character. ” One thinks of the plot of the film “La Discrète”, by Christian Vincent (1990), when Annie Ernaux evokes the reality of “writing / living a novel” in which she carefully crafted the episodes.In love, nothing question. ”Our relationship can be seen from the angle of profit.” The novelist even evokes the “good deal.” It is there, the real violation of the book, in the supposed instrumentalization of another as a motor of writing.
What happened to the author of “Passion simple” (1992), one of the masterpieces of French love literature ?! “Since September last year, I’ve done nothing but wait for a guy.” This phrase has spread all over the world. “Simple Passion” is a book written during the swallowing of love. For her narrator, she was a way to bear the pain of separation. Thus, the simplicity of Annie Ernaux’s writing expresses the perfection and universality of love. The imperfection he uses is considered an “endless repetition” of the love experienced. What separates these two books, “Simple Passion” and “Le Jeune Homme”, is thirty years and the passage from a love story to the story of a love relationship is instrumental in allowing writing. In the building of self -writing, the time between books, its silence, also speaks a truth. This summer, it’s a shame to put “Le Jeune Homme” in your suitcase without it being accompanied by “Passion simple”.
“The Young Man” and “Simple Passion”, by Annie Ernaux (ed. Gallimard, 48 p. And 76 p.)