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The Language of Flowers in Annie Ernaux's Une Femme

From: Women in French Studies
Volume 20, 2012
pp. 32-46 | 10.1353/wfs.2012.0021



In line with other interpretations of Une Femme as a work of mourning, this article will show how the author inserts, almost without notice, a variety of references to flowers that ultimately serve to commemorate her mother's life. Flowers have long been used in literature and art to communicate secret and symbolic meanings. The underpinnings of the recurring presence of flowers in Une Femme reveal, when pointed out, a subversive, rhizome-like network of associations from which a code emerges: a private language of flowers that mutely conveys the personal and social truths of her mother's life. In this manner, Ernaux's écriture plate does indeed take on a sort of ornamental and, dare we say it, literary style.

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