Coming to terms with the future: the experience of modernity in Annie Ernaux’s Journal du dehors

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This article examines Annie Ernaux's Journal du dehors (1993), and its representation of life in the New Towns which emerged on the outskirts of Paris in the post-war period. Revisiting the recent history of urban development around Paris, and in particular the Schéma directeur d'aménagement et d'urbanisme drawn up by Paul Delouvrier in 1965, it sets Ernaux's text in the context of other recent portrayals of life in the Parisian suburbs to argue that what seems at first to be a narrative of alienation, as the narrator is confronted by strange and threatening urban worlds, in fact emerges as one of adaptability, as we watch her become absorbed into the systems and networks designed by the planners. The text offers us a portrait of an individual who is not so much modern as modernised, as she gradually becomes accustomed–or more accurately, conditioned–to life in the New Town.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-136
Number of pages11
JournalFrench Cultural Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007



  • Annie Ernaux
  • Paul Delouvrier
  • Schéma directeur
  • Cergy-Pontoise
  • New Town
  • urban planning
  • banlieue
  • Delouvrier
  • Ernaux
  • modernity

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