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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction/memoir



A Man's Place

by
Annie Ernaux


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

La place



Title: A Man's Place
Author: Annie Ernaux
Genre: Novel
Written: 1983 (Eng. 1992)
Length: 103 pages
Original in: French
Availability: La Place - France
La Place - Canada
  • Translation of La Place
  • Translated by Tanya Leslie
  • Currently apparently out of print in English. This volume was available in nice little paperback editions from Ballantine (in the US) and Quartet Books (in the UK) but these are apparently very much out of print. Look for them at your local used bookstore.

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Our Assessment:

A- : an expertly crafted small memoir

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Times Book Rev. A 10/5/1992 Miranda Seymour
Rev. of Contemp. Fiction . Summer/1992 Patricia Laurence
San Fran. Chronicle . 12/7/1992 Roz Spafford
The Village Voice . 8/9/1992 .

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers.

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The complete review's Review:

       A Woman's Story was Ernaux's reckoning of her mother. In A Man's Place she turns to her father. This elegant little memoir, as much about Ernaux a her parents, is a remarkable document.
       Ernaux's parents were simple folk, running a grocery store and café in the French countryside, sure of their lives and their roles and trying to make something better for their daughter. Their daughter goes on to study and becomes a teacher -- the opening passage is about her passing her teaching certificate exam -- and moves into an intellectual world completely alien to that of her parents. Her parents mean well and do right, but a gulf opens between daughter and parents that cannot be bridged, even by such retrospective considerations as Ernaux repeatedly undertakes in her writing.
       Ernaux's frustration at being unable to bridge this gap lends much of the strength to the book. Her controlled writing, pitch perfect, nevertheless reveals the deep emotional currents raging underneath. Her presentation is exemplary. Her portrait of her father is fascinating and frustrating, more than a simple generation gap.
       The country life Ernaux describes seems both foreign and remote -- even she acknowledges as much. Nevertheless, it is an accurate portrayal of a certain slice of French life, and interesting for that alone.
       Ernaux's brief memoir is a marvelous little book, and we recommend it highly.

       N o t e: this review refers to the French edition of this work. However, a cursory review of Tanya Leslie's translation indicates that it more than adequately captures Ernaux's original.

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Links:

A Man's Place:
  • Lecture, from the University of Sunderland. Good introduction.
  • More detailed lecture
Reviews: Annie Ernaux: Other books by Annie Ernaux under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • Yasmina Reza's Ernaux-like vignettes in Hammerklavier
  • 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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