Date of Completion

Spring 4-8-2021

Thesis Advisor(s)

Elisabeth Buzay; Roger Celestin

Honors Major



French and Francophone Literature


Author Annie Ernaux comes from a humble background, but throughout her career she has proven to be on par with any member of the French literary elite. She has dominated the literary field in France for decades, publishing more than twenty books with Gallimard since 1974.

Annie Ernaux centers her writing around her own experiences. Some of her works are presented in the form of personal diaries. Journal du dehors(1993), for example, serves as a private diary bringing together moments from Ernaux’s life in the urban city of Cergy-Pontoise between 1985 and 1992, and Regarde les lumières mon amour(2014) recounts her visits to the supermarket Auchan throughout 2012 and 2013. Other of her works focus on a single person or event in her life; La place(1983) focuses on her father and his death. In a similar format, L’événement(2000) tells the story of the author’s illegal abortion in 1963. This essay will use these four books to discuss aspects of her writing style, claiming that the stylistic features overlap to create a simple, honest voice with which Ernaux discusses both the self and the collective. Simplicity of style and commentary on society are two things common to the four works discussed in this text, despite the different formats and areas of interest of the books. The effects of such thoughtful and direct writing are numerous and include the potential to reach readers with diverse backgrounds and raise awareness of aspects of modern life that are often overlooked.