Lisa Connell French writer Annie Ernaux has long foregrounded physical and emotional sensations as the building blocks of her autobiographical writing.1 However, it is in L'Usage de la photo (2005) where the connection between the body and subjectivity most powerfully emerges. Co-written by then lover Marc Marie, the text is organized around fourteen photos of different rooms after a night of lovemaking and the authors' reflections on the images to offer a plurinarrative recounting of Ernaux's battle with breast cancer and her love affair with Marie. The text's visual imagery thus has an evident temporal function, since it situates the author's battle with breast cancer and relationship with Marie between March 2003 and January 2004. Yet the photos play out a second and more significant epistemological instance in that they represent the limits of transforming corporeal experience into narrative.2 Indeed, L'Usage's concerted juxtaposition of the struggle to survive with a sensuous connection to her body brings new insight into an enduring feature of Ernaux's oeuvre: the strained relationship to the body as a source of knowledge formation, gendered identity, and empowerment. While the book works within her traditional framework of sexual discovery, gender, and everyday life and showcases
French Forum – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Jan 9, 2014
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