“Annie Ernaux found noticeable everything that can be and must be said about the life of a woman, which used to be muted, yet now got visible and righteous. The book reflects your image and can easily get reread. This is why I recommend that book,” Prof. Julia Kubisa, the UW Rector’s Plenipotentiary for Policy of Prevention of Discrimination and Sexual Harassment, says. The upcoming video from the series “Read with the UW” is presenting the autobiography “The Years” by Annie Ernaux, a laureate of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Professor Julia Kubisa graduated sociology at the University of Warsaw. She is a deputy head of the Department of Economic Sociology and Public Issues, the Faculty of Sociology. She also holds the position of the UW Rector’s Plenipotentiary for Policy of Prevention of Discrimination and Sexual Harassment. Kubisa studies equality issues and equality education, and is accountable for the communication with the aggrieved people and the University community in the discrimination-related and sexual harassment-related cases. In her work she follows the guidelines specified in the Gender Equality Plan for the UW, e.g. Female Doctoral Candidates Networking. As a scientist, she tackles the issues of gender equality at work, masculine and feminine occupations, relations between social production and reproduction.
“Ernaux’s historical memoir ‘The Years’ entangles a very private and intimate autobiography with social, political and economic transformations. This book is about the creation of yourself out of your memories, watching yourself through the lens of various parts of your life. The author focuses on continuous tensions between the intimate life, experiences and expectations of an individual, and socially acceptable standards, their consecutive evaluations in time, women’s experiences and needs emerging out from the shadow” Julia Kubisa described.
Annie Ernaux’s work “The Years” (Fr. Les Années) is not just a profound and realistic autobiography of the author, but also a story of each woman and the whole generation. In her book Ernaux illustrates several generations: the one she and her contemporaries grew up in, as well as the generations of her parents and her children. Private and social events are presented through the lens of memories and impressions of a child, then a student and, finally, a mature woman. “Would I be happier in a different life?” appears to emerge throughout the story.
Annie Ernaux is one of the most popular contemporary French writers, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2022. Her literary works are strictly associated with sociology and feminism. Her most known novels are Une femme and La place.
“Ernaux describes those issues associated with women, which used to be unspoken and marginalised through years,” Julia Kubisa remarks.
History of each woman
“The life described by Ernaux is somehow ordinary, without spectacular achievements or turns of events. Yet it reveals its unique specificity that is portrayed in a precise, calm and gentle manner,” Julia Kubisa said.
Annie Ernaux talks about every decade of her life, from the early childhood in a poor working-class family in a small town of Normandy, where religion was perceived a dogma, until the rich middle-class living in the time of political and proletarian revolution, and sexual liberation. The author tackles the issues of moral transformation, growing consumerism and secularisation against crucial moments of the history of France and Europe.
As highlighted by Julia Kubisa, “Although the novel refers to another society, it remains universal in Ernaux’s manner to see your memories through the lens of past years, through your personality and transformations of the times we lived in. You can uncover your reflection in this book. That is why I recommend reading it.”
Annie Ernaux’s memoir “The Years” was awarded the 2019 Man Brooker International Prize and the 2019 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation.
The novel is available in the open stacks of the University of Warsaw Library.
Selected feminist books from the University of Warsaw Library
No English-translated work by Annie Ernaux is available at the UW Library now.
- Invisible women: exposing data bias in a world designed for men/Caroline Criado Perez. London: Chatto & Windus, 2019.
- The mother of all questions/Rebecca Solnit. Chicago: Haymarket Books, © 2017.
- The mother of all questions: further feminisms/Rebecca Solnit; images by Paz de la Calzada. London: GRANTA, 2017.
- Men explain things to me/Rebecca Solnit; images by Ana Teresa Fernandez. Chicago, Illinois: Haymarket Books, © 2014.
- Men explain things to me/Rebecca Solnit; images by Ana Teresa Fernandez. London: GRANTA, 2014.
- Feminism is for everybody: passionate politics/Bell Hooks. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, cop. 2000.
- Feminism is for everybody: passionate politics/Bell Hooks. New York; Abingdon: Routledge, 2015.
- Feminist theory: from margin to center/Bell Hooks. 2nd ed. Brooklyn, NY; Boston, MA: South End Press, [post 2006], cop. 2000.
- Women, race, & class/Angela Y. Davis. New York: Vintage Books, 1983.
- Between voice and silence: women and girls, race and relationship/Jill McLean Taylor, Carol Gilligan, Amy M. Sullivan. Cambridge; London: Harvard University Press, 1995.