In Ecrire la vie (2011), an anthology of her major works to date, Annie Ernaux published for the first time about 80 images of herself and her family in an opening ‘photojournal’, along with extracts from her private diary. In contrast to Les Années (2008), the author’s narrative attempt to produce a total and impersonal autobiography, this photo-textual assemblage constitutes an alternative material and archival form of life-writing in its own right, literally based on fragments of written life (both verbal and visual). This factual type of photobiography constructs a singular temporality and a list-like, serial aesthetic which directly emanate from specific characteristics of the diary and photography. Ernaux’s ‘photojournal’, therefore, does not only offer a documentary complement to her longstanding autobiographical project, but also acts upon the reception of the latter. In doing so, it sheds new light on crucial issues for photobiography and diaristic writing, such as the interaction between reference and fiction; exposure and concealment; the fragmentary and the continuous; the collective and the personal.
- Annie Ernaux