I have yet to read any of Edouard Louis’ books, but I still found this interview:
Fact or fiction: autobiographical novels with Édouard Louis – books podcast
very interesting & thought provoking. I’ve rarely heard any contemporary writer – or thinker – reflect in a clearer and more precise language on the relationship between identity and social structures, life and politics.
I especially like how he avoids simplifying people and social situations; listen – and you will understand what I mean …
Édouard Louis, born Eddy Bellegueule (1992), is a French writer & academic
- En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule (2014), (Published in English as The End of Eddy)
- Histoire de la violence (2016).
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I was hoping there would be some comments because I would really like to know what others think of the article. I just finished reading “Teacher Man” by Frank McCourt and am now listening to the audio version of 1984 (I’ve never read it) and both books focus on identity and social structures.
Most of my friends were from the east end of Toronto and went to trade schools and had, if not single parents, blue collar working parents, much to the dismay of my parents who believed that a higher education and being well read were paramount to being a worthwhile human being.
For me school was a nightmare and reading difficult so it was nice to meet other youth who did things rather than thought and felt and rephrased things. I never finished high school.
Identity is always a form of laxitude and so is always limited, but understanding context is really important if a society is going to be beneficial to its members. But if we are dependant on well established criteria (as found in institutions of learning) for what “context” is to be considered we are just as limited, more so because it is a sort of intellectual fascism where as laxitude is at least a symptom without an agenda.
So interesting. His closing words– “This is the literary revolution that is necessary today. As long as a large proportion of books are addressed only to the privileged elite, as long as literature continues to assault people like my mother or the taxi driver, literature can die. I will watch its death with indifference.” That says a lot.
I know some literary magazine editors who, on principle, and no matter how excellent the work, refuse to publish poems about poetry (which many of us poets write, and I admit to being among that us). Partly for this reason, the literati speaking to the literati…it creates an emotional and “class” difference from the get-go.
My parents “escaped” an agricultural & blue collar culture by attending university; and my mother’s father was, like Eduoard Louis’ mother, aggressive in his distaste for fancy college folks. The only book in my mother’s family was the Bible, which didn’t get read much, even though my grandmother had been valedictorian of her high school class.
As for me, I cannot imagine life without books. But I have cousins whose world view is as limited as the one Louis describes, people who (I am positive) voted for Trump–or, perhaps did not vote at all, since they feel that the little person’s vote does not even count.
I am glad this writer found a way to write about, and possibly for, the people he knows. Although the work that endures eventually is enshrined by the elite, the work that endures also appeals even to those who are not among the literati.
I have just finished reading The End of Eddy, it’s a very-very harsh story. Eddy is born into extreme poverty, both economical and cultural – and also emotional. I myself come from a typical middle-class background, none of my parents had higher education, and they never pushed us kids to get it either – even if all three of us today have university degrees. There was never any extravagance, but we always had food on our table and there were books on the shelves. Compared to Eddy’s world my childhood was heaven
As I understand it from The End of Eddy, not many people from Eddy/Edouard’s milieu, if any, would read a book like The End of Eddy, or any book – reading is not what these people do.
But we, the literati, get to see what Edouard Louis’ have seen. A world that, even if it is on our doorstep, would have been unknown for us if it wasn’t for books like this.
I will look for this book!