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Collective consciousness to fight censorship is necessary: Novelist Annie Ernaux

2022 Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux encouraged young authors to fight censorship while speaking at Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts

French novelist Annie Ernaux called emphasised on collective fight against censorhsip. (Mayank Austen Soofi/HT Photo)

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 Censorship in writing is a "tragedy", said 2022 Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux as she encouraged young authors to have a "collective consciousness" to fight against its imposition.

Ernaux, who is on her maiden visit to India as part of a delegation of authors from France—the guest country in the ongoing New Delhi World Book Fair -- was speaking here on Sunday at the Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts.  

Also read: It’s pointless to go back to the past with a red pen

"Alone we cannot do anything. So first of all I would like to tell young authors to have a collective consciousness to fight... It is a tragedy, real drama to be censored when you write and this was the case in Europe, USSR and Eastern Europe, the change happened with the change of regime... so collective fight against the government imposing censorship is what is necessary," said the 82-year-old French writer.

Ernaux, however, admitted that it is "very easy" for someone like her—who has come from outside—to say the above as she comes from a country where "censorship does not exist anymore".

The author of ''L'Événement'' (Happening), "La Place" (A Man's Place) and her most critically acclaimed book "Les annees" (The Years), Ernaux was awarded the Nobel for the "courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements, and collective restraints of personal memory".

Having shifted from fiction early in her career to focus on memoirs, Ernaux's work would often combine historic and individual experiences.

When asked about reasons behind her abandoning fiction altogether, the author of "A Woman’s Story" said, to her, novels were sort of a "betrayal" towards her relationship with the world—which she claimed was different from the kids with the "bourgeois background".

"So I felt I needed to distance myself from the novels and wrote all the books -- three on myself, fourth one on my father. I understood that reality did not necessitate the need for fiction and there was no need for fiction, and started writing 'The Years' where I subverted not the autobiographical genre but also the novel as a genre," she explained.

In "The Years", published in 2008, Ernaux writes about herself in the third person (elle, or "she" in English) for the first time, providing a vivid look at French society just after the Second World War until the early 2000s. The book received numerous awards and honours.

Also read: 5 reasons to visit the World Book Fair in Delhi

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