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What Forms Can DoThe Work of Form in 20th- and 21st- Century French Literature and Thought$
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Patrick Crowley and Shirley Jordan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620658

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620658.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

The Time of Our Lives

The Time of Our Lives

Repetition, Variation and Fragmentation in French Women’s Life Writing

(p.113) Chapter Seven The Time of Our Lives
What Forms Can Do

Shirley Jordan

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores some of the formal devices elaborated in recent contemporary women’s life writing to convey a sense of time and of being in the world. It focuses on the intimate and the everyday and on the units, flows, categories and organization of time in recent experimental works by Annie Ernaux, Camille Laurens and Chantal Akerman. The chapter is grounded in theory about female-authored self-narrative, returns to gendered ideas of a hierarchy of time and builds upon the problematizing of linear time in what Julia Kristeva famously referred to as ‘women’s time’ (1979). It analyses in particular the functions of repetition, variation and fragmentation as forces that drive and shape the works in question, asking how such repetition might be read as specifically gendered, and examining the impact this might have on the experience of reading. The chapter explores the temporal architecture of three selected works which, I argue, are ‘time rich’ and ‘time sensitive’ and which loop back into each author’s previous life writing experimentation. These are Ernaux’s total life-narrative Les Années (2008), Laurens’s autofictional essay Encore et jamais: variations (2013) and Akerman’s final experiment in life writing, Ma mère rit (2013).

Keywords:   Annie Ernaux, Camille Laurens, Chantal Akerman, Life writing, Time, Repetition, Gender

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