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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Ce qu'ils disent ou rien

by
Annie Ernaux


general information | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Ce qu'ils disent ou rien



Title: Ce qu'ils disent ou rien
Author: Annie Ernaux
Genre: Novel
Written: 1977
Length: 154 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Ce qu'ils disent ou rien - France
Ce qu'ils disent ou rien - Canada
  • Ce qu'ils disent ou rien has not been translated into English yet

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Our Assessment:

B : fine glimpse of adolescent confusion

See our review for fuller assessment.




The complete review's Review:

       In Ce qu'ils disent ou rien fifteen year-old Anne describes her summer. She is not yet close to adulthood, but also no longer a child. The summer is a period of transition -- between school, among friends -- yet Anne feels apart from almost everything around her.
       Her family is no longer a real hold for her, and the growing distance between their realities and hers is palpable yet still confusing and disturbing to Anne. She checks Camus' The Stranger out of the library, and is stunned by the effect of the words, but even such books can't always help her make sense of her surroundings. She returns to the Camus throughout the summer, yet it too remains outside her grasp, not entirely the answer she is looking for.
       Ce qu'ils disent ou rien is a fairly typical if slightly more self-conscious than usual exploration of adolescent Angst and ennui. Anne can go so far as to describe a day:

    On était au 18 juillet, le soir j'ai pleuré de voir le temps passer et d'être jeune pour rien.

    (It was July 18, in the evening I cried at watching the time go by and being young for nothing.)
       She senses that she is missing something, but she has no idea how to latch onto it. Her adolescent relationships are particularly conflicted, and she has no one she can really turn to or feel truly comfortable with, heightening her sense of frustration.
       The narrative is told in long, unbroken paragraphs and passages, the language tentatively carefree -- a neat balance between adolescent experimentation with language and an attempt to express clearly what is mainly muddled in her mind.
       Ce qu'ils disent ou rien isn't exceptional, but it's a thoughtful and well-crafted look at an adolescent experience.

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Links:

Annie Ernaux: Other books by Annie Ernaux under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See also the Index of French literature at the complete review

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About the Author:

       French author Annie Ernaux was born in Normandy in 1940. She has won numerous literary prizes, including the Prix Renaudot. Three of her books have been New York Times Notable Books of the Year.

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