Annie Ernaux

French writer (born 1940)

Annie Ernaux (birth name Annie Duchesne; born 1 September 1940) is a French writer and professor of literature. Ernaux was awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature.

The worst thing about shame is that we imagine we are the only ones to experience it.



A Frozen Woman (1981)

La Femme gelée (Gallimard, 1981), A Frozen Woman, trans. Linda Coverdale (Four Walls Eight Windows, 1995)
  • I can no longer think of any way to change my life except by having a baby. I will never sink lower than that.
    • Quoted in Mother Reader by Moyra Davey (Seven Stories Press, 2011), p. xvii

Exteriors (1993)

Journal du dehors (Gallimard, 1993), Exteriors, trans. Tanya Leslie (Seven Stories Press, 1996)
  • I am beginning to reach the age when I say hello to the old women I meet in my neighborhood, anticipating the moment in life when I shall be one of them. When I was twenty I didn't notice them; they would be dead before my face had wrinkles.
    • Quoted in But Enough About Me by Nancy K. Miller (Columbia University Press, 2002), p. 96

Shame (1997)

La Honte (Gallimard, 1997), Shame, trans. Tanya Leslie (Seven Stories Press, 1998)
  • The worst thing about shame is that we imagine we are the only ones to experience it.
    • Quoted in Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 184, ed. Tom Burns and ‎Jeffrey Hunter (Gale, 2004), p. 164, and in The Poetics of Childhood by Roni Natov (Routledge, 2014), p. 220

Happening (2000)

L'Événement (Gallimard, 2000), Happening, trans. Tanya Leslie (Seven Stories Press, 2001)
  • Maybe the true purpose of my life is for my body, my sensations and my thoughts to become writing, in other words, something intelligible and universal, causing my existence to merge into the lives and heads of other people.
    • Quoted in Melodrama after the tears, ed. Jörg Metelmann and Scott Loren (Amsterdam University Press, 2016), p. 178

A Girl's Story (2016)

Mémoire de fille (2016), A Girl's Story, trans. Alison L. Strayer (Seven Stories Press, 2020)
  • I love my life, I like to be cosmopolitan, I would like to visit the whole earth and love it all.
    • Quoted in Dissolve by Nikki Gemmell (Hachette UK, 2021)
  • I am endowed by shame's vast memory, more detailed and implacable than any other, a gift unique to shame.
    • Quoted in German #MeToo, ed. Elisabeth Krimmer and Patricia Simpson (Boydell & Brewer, 2022), p. 31