“I am she who does not speak about herself”: The Impersonal Autobiography

  • Valérie Baisnée Université Paris-Sud
Keywords: Collective memory, gender, first person pronoun


This article examines how some contemporary autobiographies avoid narratives told from a first person viewpoint. Rejecting a philosophy of the subject that favors the first person pronoun over the other persons in language, Annie Ernaux’s impersonal autobiography The Years (2008) favors a mode of remembering that is collective rather than individual. But the narrator’s memories fall prey to a capitalist production system that denies the body while technology takes over the past, eliminating the subject as the owner of her memories.

Author Biography

Valérie Baisnée, Université Paris-Sud

Valérie Baisnée is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Paris Sud. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She has published several articles and essays on women’s autobiographies, diaries and poetry, and she is the author of Gendered Resistance: The Autobiographies of Simone de Beauvoir, Maya Angelou, Janet Frame and Marguerite Duras (Rodopi, 1997), and Through the Long Corridor of Distance: Space and Place in New Zealand Women’s Autobiographies (Rodopi, 2014).