A Man's Place

Overview

Not since Francoise Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse has the world seen anything like it. Here is another young woman, romantically sensitive, quintessentially French, sharing the story of her awakening. In A Woman's Story, it is a wakening to pain -- the pain of loss, for her mother has just died. In a Man's Place, Ernaux explores the complex relationship with her father. Simple Passion -- the tender recollections of a young woman's obsessive affair with a married man -- crowns the trio.

"Graceful and beautifully ...

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A Man's Place

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Overview

Not since Francoise Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse has the world seen anything like it. Here is another young woman, romantically sensitive, quintessentially French, sharing the story of her awakening. In A Woman's Story, it is a wakening to pain -- the pain of loss, for her mother has just died. In a Man's Place, Ernaux explores the complex relationship with her father. Simple Passion -- the tender recollections of a young woman's obsessive affair with a married man -- crowns the trio.

"Graceful and beautifully written...Ernaux richly deserves her expanding international reputation." (New York Times)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``May I venture an explanation: writing is the ultimate recourse for those who have betrayed,'' says Jean Genet in the epigraph to Ernaux's ``autobiographical narrative'' about her relationship with her father. The betrayer is Ernaux herself, a cultivated intellectual whose bitter resentment towards her petit bourgeois parents first appeared in her novel Cleaned Out . The betrayed, of course, are her parents, without whose efforts the disparity in stations would not have existed. Although not as painfully immediate as Ernaux's depiction of her mother in A Woman's Story , this is nonetheless an affecting portrait of a man whose own peasant upbringing typified the adage that a child should never be better educated than his parents. Ernaux uses, as she says, ``no lyrical reminiscences, no triumphant displays of irony,'' but rather a dispassionate narrative to describe her father's climb to the relative prosperity of a shopkeeper in a small Norman town, and his fretful vigilance lest his manners, language, posture--or daughter--betray his uneasy social position. (Apr . )
Library Journal
A companion to A Woman's Story LJ 4/1/91, the biographical novel of Ernaux's mother, this work is a narrative of the life and death of her father. It is a story of a working-class man who believed that self-denial, hard work, and careful speech would gain him entrance into the middle class where good manners, well-spoken words, and respectability reigned. Ernaux tells the story without sentimentality, conveying the alienation and pain of the humiliating limitations of class. Possessing the honesty, perceptiveness, and universality in A Woman's Story and Cleaned Out LJ 12/90, this book will make readers glad that Ernaux was able to unravel her suppressed memories, no longer surrendering to a world ``where memories of a lowly existence are seen as a sign of bad taste.'' For public libraries.-- Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, N.J.
Kirkus Reviews
An austere but poignant account from acclaimed French writer Ernaux of those ties that bind as well as separate fathers from daughters, in this companion volume to last year's A Woman's Story. Ernaux expands on personal experience to reflect universal themes of generational and class alienation, of grief at a parent's loss, and of the evanescence of memory, in what she has called an "autobiographical narrative." As she describes her father's life, she comes to accept his recent death and his "legacy with which I had to part when I entered the educated, bourgeois world." Her father, son of Normandy farmhands, managed to struggle up from cowherd—the lowest rung in society—to become a tenuous member of the working class. With his wife he ran a small cafe and grocery store, an increasingly marginal business as supermarkets moved in but viable enough to send his only daughter to a private school. It was a life permeated from the beginning with fear of poverty and shaped by stark prescriptions: "The only way to escape one's parents' poverty was not to impregnate a woman"; "You don't have ideas when you are in trade"; "never lay oneself open to criticism—for what are people going to say?" Her father is a man who's remembered for childhood outings to the circus and beach, but also a figure, a country man at heart, from whom she grew irrevocably away. "Books and music are all right for you. I don't need them to live," he told her—yet at the end his "greatest satisfaction, possibly even the raison d`etre of his existence, was the fact that I belonged to the world which had scorned him." An unsentimental portrait of a man loved as a parent, admired as an individual but,because of habits and education, heartbreakingly apart. Moving and memorable.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609804039
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 712,809
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.06 (h) x 0.31 (d)

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