The jury’s choice for the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature reveals, for those who still had some doubts, the unwavering leftist orientation of the venerable Swedish institution. The laureate, French author Annie Ernaux is indeed known for her long-standing commitment to the Left, perhaps more than for her literary output. But to consider that the Nobel Prize for Literature should reward literary achievement certainly puts you in the category of dangerous intellectuals of fascist persuasion.
If there is one quality that cannot be taken away from Annie Ernaux, apart from her pen and a style we are still searching for, it is her ideological constancy. According to her, the most beautiful moment in her life remains May 1968, and she has not moved since. At the age of 81, she is described by the left-wing newspaper Libération as a personality who “bridges the gap” between yesterday’s and today’s struggles, from class struggle to gender.
In 2012, Annie Ernaux made headlines by obtaining—via a petition, together with Bernard-Henri Lévy and a few other personalities of the same ilk—the skin of the conservative writer Richard Millet, who had the misfortune of ironizing Anders Breivik in a clumsy pamphlet.
In 2017, Annie Ernaux gave a notable endorsement to Houria Bouteldja, a French-Algerian activist for the association ‘Les Indigènes de la République,’ whose racist and anti-Semitic comments in her book Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous are well known.
In 2018, she mobilised against policies aimed at regulating migratory flows.
In 2020, she recalled that fanatical terrorists had nothing to do with Islam but were ‘just’ fanatical terrorists.
During the campaign for the 2022 presidential election, Annie Ernaux presented herself as a supporter of the far-Left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. In an interview with Libération in March 2022, she insisted: “Political action is part of me.” She voted for the Trotskyist Arlette Laguiller in 2002, then supported the Socialist candidate François Hollande in 2012. Since then, she has systematically voted for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, in particular because of his desire for institutional reform. Jean-Luc Mélenchon is in favour of a “de-presidentialization” of the French regime, and a Sixth Republic—a programme shared by Annie Ernaux, who exclaims: “I don’t want this fucking presidential election anymore.” This rare elegance of style certainly justifies her accession to the dignity of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Annie Ernaux loves diversity, up to a point. She only associates with her fellow human beings, but no one will reproach her for that, because her fellow human beings are all on the Left. She explains: “I am not objective: I am surrounded only by people who vote for Mélenchon.” In all consistency, she assures us that no right-wing personality has ever impressed her, apart from Simone Veil, the French muse of pro-abortion activists. Her openness is limited to recognising some qualities in Emmanuel Macron, but she has nightmares when the triad of her Erinyes—Valérie Pécresse, Marine Le Pen, and Éric Zemmour—rises in her mind.
About the latter, she doesn’t understand that he can have any kind of popularity. This is hardly surprising, since Annie Ernaux is certainly one of those left-wing personalities who evolve daily within a perimeter of two hundred metres around the square of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, in the very posh 6th arrondissement of Paris frequented by the Left, and whose only risk in life consists of crossing the rue Saint-Benoît to walk the 36 metres that separate the Café de Flore from the Café des Deux Magots.
In a sense, Annie Ernaux is soothing and reassuring, as she dutifully ticks all the boxes of the most unbearable political correctness. She now espouses the cause of feminist activism, explaining that she writes through her own experience “as a girl, having come up against social scorn and male domination.” She admits, however, that she doesn’t fully understand the neo-feminist debate and the demand for the pronoun iel (they). (Just a little more effort, Annie, for becoming a perfect progressive, it’s never too late!) But her honours are secure, because Annie Ernaux admires the woke movement. It is a just struggle. And in a reflection worthy of a five-year-old girl—minus the cuteness—she declares that she does not understand how one can oppose those who denounce injustice.
This is the writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize.
Yet, anyone with eyes to see recognizes her worldview as one of the most depressing kinds of materialism. Some of her best memories are reserved for buying a dishwasher and coloured television set in the 1970s. Today, she has a smartphone, and admits to spending hours scrolling through it to read live news. Is this the kind of distance and critical thinking in a literary mind worthy of distinction? The happiness she sought in her youth (a dishwasher) clashes obnoxiously with her refusal to be stigmatised as a ‘boomer.’ She is, rather, a perfect incarnation of this demographic slang, a pure product of the consumerist society that she yet vomits out when she declares that she wants to stand with the barricades of injustice.
In a word, Annie Ernaux is fundamentally, viscerally left-wing—the generous Left in essence, which shamelessly allies itself with the crimes of communism. She is the Left of ‘emancipation and hope,’ so focused on the future that it ends up, in the words of Paul Claudel, making the present a perfectly decent hell. All this, for sure, deserved a Nobel Prize.