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19th October 2022

Annie Ernaux was, as she says, educated out of her social milieu. Like one of her greatest literary influences, Simone de Beauvoir, she struggled to be a 'jeune fille rangée' or dutiful daughter. She writes vividly about her parents and the enclosed world of their épicerie-mercerie-café in Yvetot in La Place (1983, trans as A Man's Place) and Une femme (1987). Ernaux later studied in Rouen, where de Beauvoir had taught at the Lycée Jeanne d'Arc from 1932 to 1941. (Visitors to Rouen today can have a coffee at de Beauvoir and Sartre's preferred cafe, Le Métropole (1932, above), near the fabulous late Art Nouveau railway station.)

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