Set in 1963, four years before the legalization of oral contraception in France and twelve years before the Veil Act (which legalized abortion), the autobiographical narrative describes the troubles a young student faces when seeking out an abortion.
The story begins her recounting how waiting for the results of an HIV test reminded her of the similar stressful experience of discovering she was pregnant.
She speaks about the stress of finding out, and the consequences, such as hiding it from her parents and public, searching for a doctor who would perform the still-illegal procedure, revealing the pregnancy to some close friends for help, and the emotional toll of the abortion itself.
Entries from her journal frame the events from the first three months of her pregnancy to the abortion and recovery.
Claire Devarrieux, of Libération, wrote that Ernaux's story "transcends individuality."
Emily Eakin, of The New York Times Book Review wrote, "As subject matter goes, little could be more inherently provocative. Ernaux's take is all the more so for being unabashedly philosophical rather than moral."
Registration opens on 24 November 2023.
About the Organizer
Victoria Wilhelm, who will be leading the discussion, is a graduate student in French Literature and Culture at the Sorbonne, in Paris.
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Association régie par la loi du 1er juillet 1901
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