French writer and literature professor Annie Ernaux was born on September 1, 1940 in Normandy. Her family background was very modest and she studied at the University of Rouen. After graduation, she began to teach and then set up a distance education program. She published her first book in 1974 with an autobiographical novel and won a major literary prize, le Prix Renaudot, a decade later for another autobiographical work. Another book, Les Années, that covers the post-war years to the modern day, won four major awards when it was published in 2008. In fact, she’s become so important in her own right that there’s now a Prix Annie Ernaux.
Nothing is off bounds in her autobiographical fiction that mixes elements from her life with historical events. Ernaux has discussed her parents, marriage, sex life, her bout with breast cancer, her mother’s Alzheimer’s and death. Her writing style is spare and unornamented, drawn from her roots as a working-class girl from a town in Normandy.
Today’s expression, “Dans la passion, c’est le rêve qui compte” (dahn lah pass-e-ohn seh luh rev key cohmt) is an Annie Ernaux quotation. It means, “In passion, it’s the dream that counts.” Apparently, that little girl who lived above her parents’ shop did a lot of dreaming.