Du Dedans au Dehors: Trajectories of the Self in Diaries by Annie Ernaux

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The aim of this chapter is to explore the complex levels of interaction between the public and the private spheres in Annie Ernaux’s journaux and the way in which they impact on the author’s conception of identity. Annie Ernaux has been writing a diary (journal intime) since the age of sixteen. Although the vast majority of her diary will be published posthumously, Ernaux has already published two large sections: ‘Je ne suis pas sortie de ma nuit’ (Gallimard, 1996), which was written when her mother was suffering from Alzeihmer’s disease, and Se Perdre (Gallimard, 2001), which was written at the time of the author’s passionate affair with a Russian diplomat. Ernaux has also published two diaries focusing on the outside world (journaux extimes): Journal du dehors (Gallimard, 1993) and its sequel La Vie extérieure (Gallimard, 2000). This chapter evaluates the role played by the inside (private spaces, memories, feelings and emotions, construction of the self) and the outside (public spaces, the everyday, the political sphere, ‘others’) in Ernaux’s journaux and the constant levels of tension and interactions between these two spheres. By focusing on ‘Je ne suis pas sortie de ma nuit’, written at the same time as Journal du dehors, this chapter assesses the extent to which the inside leaves traces on the outside — and vice-versa — in these texts. By exploring the links between these two types of diaries, it highlights movements of blurring of boundaries between the public and the private spheres and between self and others which are characteristic of an oeuvre focusing on questions of displacement and on the construction of personal and social identity. Looking closely at these diaries permits a revaluation of the definition of the autobiographical sphere as a hybrid space, where connections between the dedans and the dehors reflect interactions between the role played by memories, shame, and by the author’s socio-ethnological gaze in the writing process. Therefore, the movements between the inside and the outside worlds mirror not only Annie Ernaux’s preoccupations, but also her trajectory as a writer.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication‘Parcours de femmes’
Subtitle of host publicationTwenty Years of Women in French
EditorsAngela Kershaw, Maggie Allison
PublisherPeter Lang
ISBN (Print)978-3-0343-0208-1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Publication series

NameModern French Identities
PublisherPeter Lang


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