Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2007

Department 1



Ce qu'ils disent ou rien is arguably Annie Ernaux's most comical text, untainted by such serious themes like abortion, as is the case for Les armoires vides. Narrated from the perspective of the fifteen-you-old Anne - although she would describe herself as having "bientot seize ans" (19) - the language of this "monologue interieur accusateur" (Tondeur 176) is adolescent argot that ranges from the colloquial to the outright vulgar. Furthermore, it captures a period in a teenaged girl's life that many females recognize and rememver with their own wry smile: the discovery of and sexual experimentation with the opposite sex, and the separation and distancing from the Mother that this period in a young woman's life necessarily entails. What is particularly intriguing about the work, one of only three books that can legitimately be labeled a novel and which Ernaux herself would willingly place in this category (Jeannet 21), is the way in which Ernaux enhances the comic character of the text through the use of metonymy. Anne's eyeglasses, or spectacles if you will, schematize the ups and downs that the teenager experiences in her effort to be noticed and found attractive to boys.