Annie Ernaux | Critical Review by Bettina L. Knapp

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of Annie Ernaux.
This section contains 312 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Bettina L. Knapp

Critical Review by Bettina L. Knapp

SOURCE: A review of Passion simple, in World Literature Today, Vol. 67, No. 1, Winter, 1993, pp. 152-53.

Specializing in French and comparative literature studies, Knapp is an American critic, educator, and the author of several critical books, including studies of Jean Genet, Jean Cocteau, Anaïs Nin, and Emile Zola. In the following, she provides a favorable assessment of Passion simple.

Minute and interestingly objective is [Passion simple,] the detailed account of the feelings, sensations, and thoughts a woman experiences as she awaits her lover's call or visit. Unlike Marguerite Duras, whose prose is imagistic, cadenced, meaningfully repetitious, and haunting in its verbal recordings and rerecordings of her protagonist's affects. Annie Ernaux's sojourn into sex is straightforward and classical, stylistically speaking. Rather than dealing with the mysteries surrounding the notion of passion, we are invited to share in the iteration of its harsh realities. In this regard, Passion simple is somewhat reminiscent of Cocteau's monologue written for Edith Piaf, Le bel indifférent.

Ernaux involves her reader in a barometric depiction of the gamut of erotic feelings the protagonist feels for her lover. Neither career, nor friends, nor intellectual concerns are of import; only those moments spent in lovemaking matter. Her life revolves around the hours spent sitting by the telephone waiting for a call from her man, refusing to run the vacuum cleaner or hair dryer for fear of drowning out the longed-for sound of the bell; or she rushes to return home from work or shopping, hoping to hear that very special voice, et cetera. The protagonist is also very careful not to leave any telltale signs of her presence—such as a strand of hair—on her paramour's clothing, for fear his wife might discover their relationship. Although sexual encounters are not depicted in detail, Ernaux's explicit vocabulary lends just the right touch to her enticing and deeply poignant confession.

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This section contains 312 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Bettina L. Knapp
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