Impersonal Belongings: Annie Ernaux’s Poetics of Chiffonnage


Contemporary French author Annie Ernaux makes salvaging, recycling, and defying obsolescence into a materialist poetics. Ernaux aligns her textual collages with a late-capitalist incarnation of the Parisian ragpicker. The overlap of the two main tropes in Ernaux’s oeuvre, the axis of reminiscence (embodied here mainly in the works The Years and A Girl’s Story) and the axis of everyday experience in late capitalistic Paris and its suburbs (Exteriors, Things Seen), assemble into a poetics of chiffonnage. In both axes, residues of the everyday are recycled into writing, an effort that reframes the tradition of ragpicking from its context in nineteenth-century Paris into a discourse of waste and recycling.

Read Article On Muse