Translated by Alison L. Strayer
In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman, Annie Ernaux revisits the night 50 years earlier when she found herself submerged and controlled by another person's desire and willpower. It is the summer of 1958, the year she turned 18. And then the man she gave herself to moves on. She has submitted her will to his, and now she finds that she is a slave without a master. Now, fifty years later, she realizes she can obliterate the intervening years and return to consider this young woman that until now she wanted to forget completely. And to discover that here was the vital, violent and dolorous origin of her writing life, her writer's identity, built out of shame, violence, betrayal.