Australian Journal of French Studies

Life, Disrupted: Annie Ernaux's Journal du dehors and "Je ne suis pas sortie de ma nuit"

Australian Journal of French Studies (2012), 49, (3), 250–266.

Abstract

Diary writing is often something that happens when the narratives by which we live break down. From 1985 until April 1986, while her mother was dying of Alzheimer's disease, Annie Ernaux kept not one journal, but two: Journal du dehors (1993) and the journal des visites, published as "Je ne suis pas sortie de ma nuit" (1997). While it might seem that this double diary practice enabled Ernaux to separate her inner concerns from her more public daily life, the fact that Journal du dehors draws simultaneously on several different generic conventions, among which are both the journal intime and the ethnographic log, and that Ernaux publishes the journal des visites as "Je ne suis pas sortie de ma nuit" undermines any attempt to account for this double diary keeping in terms of a private/public or personal/collective dichotomy. This article focuses on the work that is performed by this doubling of Ernaux's journal space. It argues that Journal du dehors is not merely the effect of disruption, but more specifically an effect of the ongoing diary writing in which Ernaux was already engaged. Writing in discontinuity for a prolonged period of time fosters an attention to detail that ultimately becomes the basis for the construction of a new kind of quotidian to be read.

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Author details

Wilson, Sonia

Wilson, Sonia