In Annie Ernaux’s The Years — her extraordinary act of collective autobiography —the ‘I’ disappears. Her memoir becomes the memoir of France since the war: each year of the author’s life is evoked in a collage of memories, images and historical fragments. Apart from a handful of photographs, in which Ernaux is the dispassionately observed ‘she’, the self is erased and in its place an ambiguous ‘we’ narrates the flow of years and the slippage of time.
In I Remain in Darkness, the ‘I’ is everywhere, yet it is still a treacherous word. In this work of shocking honesty and intimacy, Ernaux bears witness to her mother’s final years of living and dying with dementia. The text is an unedited collection of Ernaux’s observations and feelings, written at the time hastily on scraps of paper.