Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

I Remain in Darkness Paperback – Nov 7 2000


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
CDN$ 3.76 CDN$ 5.54

Best Canadian Books of 2014
Margaret Atwood's stunning new collection of stories, Stone Mattress, is our #1 Canadian pick for 2014. See all

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought



Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press (Nov. 7 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583220526
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583220528
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #533,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Again blurring the line between memoir and fiction, Ernaux continues the story of her family in journal form. This slim volume is a quietly searing account of Ernaux's mother's deteriorating health after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, in 1983, and her heart attack and death in April of 1986. At first the formerly independent mother moves in with Ernaux and her sons. Then, as her memory losses become crippling, she is admitted to a geriatric hospital. Ernaux keeps a journal, recording the details of her mother's slow decline: the way she shrinks until she's like a little doll, the diaper she wears to control incontinence, the smell of the cologne that masks sickroom odors. Ernaux also records her own reactions: she is defiant when shopgirls eye her mother with contempt, dismayed when her mother no longer even tries to look for her mislaid toiletry bag, guilt-ridden but trying to remain emotionless as the years pass by, then finally overwhelmed by a flood of feeling after her mother's death. The selection of significant detail is thoughtful and poetic, arranged in a simple memoir format. Several recurring themes are woven throughout, notably those of time, art and the relationship between mother and daughter. Ernaux suggests that the beloved mother who gave her birth (reminding her of the Courbet painting The Origins of the World, which depicts the open thighs of a recumbent woman) is being consumed by time and that Ernaux, through her art, can restore her original image. It is a motif similar to, although in no way as richly developed as, that of Shakespeare's Sonnet 15: "As he [time] takes from you, I engraft you new." Like Ernaux's other work (Shame; Simple Passion), this is "not literature" exactly, but "an attempt to salvage part of our lives, to understand, but first to salvage," poignant though limited in its reach.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Unlike Aaron Alterra's The Caregiver (LJ 10/15/99), this slim volume by noted French writer Ernaux (Simple Passion) is not a straightforward medical account of her mother's death from Alzheimer's; instead, it is a collection of the notes, in their original form, that Ernaux jotted down at the time of her mother's illness. "When I write down all these things, I scribble away as fast as I can (as if I felt guilty), without choosing my words." Here in their raw, uncensored form are the "vestiges of pain"Athe anger, guilt, and grief that Ernaux felt during her mother's two-year decline. Here are the graphic images of her once-powerful mother wearing diapers, the woman in the next bed peeing on the floor, a drawer in the bedside table filled with a human turd. Because the notes have not been edited, there is a choppy, unpolished feel to the book, which is perhaps Ernaux's intentionAas a possible counterpoint to A Woman's Story (1991), her fictionalized memoir of her mother's life and death. For literary and Alzheimer's collections.AWilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
0
4 star
2
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See both customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most helpful customer reviews

By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on June 23 2000
Format: Hardcover
Alzheimer's is a cruel disease for those who have it and even more cruel for those who know the sufferers. Everyone who knows someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's should read this book to prepare themselves for the experiences ahead. You'll need all of your strength and preparation!
The title is the last sentence the author's mother wrote before she died. One of the frightening aspects of the disease is watching the person discover the loss of faculties, as they occur. Soon, you are not recognized, and the person can lose all of their possessions. They may have to be tied down to keep them from wandering off and getting hurt. Physical deterioration is often not far behind.
The book is a series of notes the author made on occasions when she was with her mother from January 1984 through April 1986, and includes a few days after her mother's death.
You will find a lot of pain here. The author finds that she is revolted by the affliction, at how her mother changes, by the memories she has of things she should not have done, and in her own reactions to her mother's changes. As a result, there's a lot of guilt and remorse to deal with. By reading how Ms. Ernaux went through this, you may have an easier time forgiving yourself if you are subject to the same feelings in the future.
The book is filled with pretty direct stories and references to things that can be upsetting: People exposing themselves, getting sores in private places, human excretion, unpleasant smells and sights, and rough language. You will hear, see, feel, smell, and taste what the author experienced. In this area, I found the translation a little strange at times.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Format: Hardcover
Annie Ernaux is an author whose appeal is difficult to define - she writes autobiographical prose that is sparse, clear, honest and a bit hard. In her very particular experience, she writes prose that is emotionally universally true.
The mother we meet in "I Remain in Darkness" is a very different woman than we met in "A Woman's Place". The strong woman previously depicted descends into dependence. Written in the form of a dated journal, Ms. Ernaux traces her mother's descent into Alzheimer's - first recognizing that her mother can no longer live alone, she moves her mother in with her; this is followed by the recognition that she can no longer care for her mother; finally, her mother dies in a nursing home.
A simple and common experience. But Annie Ernaux in a slim volume captures the changing emotions that follow the changes in her mother's situation in a way few authors can.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Gripping Perspective on Losing a Parent to Alzheimer's June 23 2000
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Alzheimer's is a cruel disease for those who have it and even more cruel for those who know the sufferers. Everyone who knows someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's should read this book to prepare themselves for the experiences ahead. You'll need all of your strength and preparation!
The title is the last sentence the author's mother wrote before she died. One of the frightening aspects of the disease is watching the person discover the loss of faculties, as they occur. Soon, you are not recognized, and the person can lose all of their possessions. They may have to be tied down to keep them from wandering off and getting hurt. Physical deterioration is often not far behind.
The book is a series of notes the author made on occasions when she was with her mother from January 1984 through April 1986, and includes a few days after her mother's death.
You will find a lot of pain here. The author finds that she is revolted by the affliction, at how her mother changes, by the memories she has of things she should not have done, and in her own reactions to her mother's changes. As a result, there's a lot of guilt and remorse to deal with. By reading how Ms. Ernaux went through this, you may have an easier time forgiving yourself if you are subject to the same feelings in the future.
The book is filled with pretty direct stories and references to things that can be upsetting: People exposing themselves, getting sores in private places, human excretion, unpleasant smells and sights, and rough language. You will hear, see, feel, smell, and taste what the author experienced. In this area, I found the translation a little strange at times. Several crude words would be used, then a reference would be made that seemed to be employing a euphemism for a more direct word. Is the translation more or less crude than the author intended? I don't know.
The reason I did not give the book five stars is that it could really use a little more perspective than just the notes. Apparently, the experience was so painful that the author decided to let the notes speak for themselves. Perhaps in the future, Ms. Ernaux will choose to revisit this work, and put it into more context.
Is this work contrived by a fine writer, or is it simple human drama? I'm inclined to think it is the latter. Few would portray themselves and their mother this way simply to entertain readers. I could feel the searing pain as I read the entries. I think you will, too.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Another jewel - can one expect less from Annie Ernaux? May 6 2000
By M. J. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Annie Ernaux is an author whose appeal is difficult to define - she writes autobiographical prose that is sparse, clear, honest and a bit hard. In her very particular experience, she writes prose that is emotionally universally true.
The mother we meet in "I Remain in Darkness" is a very different woman than we met in "A Woman's Place". The strong woman previously depicted descends into dependence. Written in the form of a dated journal, Ms. Ernaux traces her mother's descent into Alzheimer's - first recognizing that her mother can no longer live alone, she moves her mother in with her; this is followed by the recognition that she can no longer care for her mother; finally, her mother dies in a nursing home.
A simple and common experience. But Annie Ernaux in a slim volume captures the changing emotions that follow the changes in her mother's situation in a way few authors can.
Vestiges of Pain July 15 2009
By John Thorndike - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A short, almost miniature volume from the French writer Annie Ernaux, the author of Simple Passion, The Possession, and several other memoirs, essays and novels. I Remain in Darkness ("Je ne suis pas sortie de ma nuit") is the last sentence her mother ever set to paper, in the midst of her erratic decline.

The memoir is made up of unedited journal entries, most of them written while Ernaux was visiting her mother in a long-term geriatric hospital. The rawness of the journal is often electrifying, because nothing stands between the reader and Ernaux's reactions, her self-castigation, her horror at how far her mother has plunged into dementia.

She writes, "Her body is white and flaccid. I started to sob. Because of time passing, because of the past. And because the body which I see is also mine."

And this: "The disheveled hair, the hands searching for each other, the right grasping the left like an unknown object. She can't find her own mouth; every times she tries, the cake winds up to one side....I am dismayed at such degradation and bestiality."

These pages, Ernaux warns us, are not at all an objective report of her mother's last years. Instead, they should be read as "vestiges of pain." There are plenty of Alzheimer's memoirs in which the author puts the best face on this terrible disease. Not Ernaux. She leveled me in a hundred pages, and her book has stayed with me from the day I read it.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Brutal, Unflinching, uncomfortable Honesty Oct. 12 2009
By Kieran Matthew ODriscoll - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have enjoyed all of Annie Ernaux's 'romans autobiographiques' in their original French, over the last few years, including the French original of 'I remain in Darkness', the rendering of a French title which literally translates as 'I have not come out of my Darkness/my Night'.

The concept of the oxymoronically-termed 'autobiographical novel' seems to be championed by Ernaux and other present-day French writers. Over the years, Ernaux has written very intimate texts about herself, her parents, significant life events and about French society as a whole. In one work, she recounts how, one Sunday afternoon when she was aged twelve, her father tried to kill her mother. In another work, while she is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for breast cancer, her lover comments that she is the first woman he has been with whose vagina doesn't have pubic hair. In another work, she and her much younger lover take photographs, on the mornings after their lovemaking, of the clothes, shoes and other objects strewn randomly about the floor of their apartment the night before as they passionately undressed and made their way to the bedroom. In yet another text, Ernaux speaks openly about her affair with a Russian diplomat and her obsessive passion and jealousy throughout their affair.

But perhaps the most brutally honest and shocking image of all is that of the foetus which she flushes down the toilet as a young university student, following a horrific backstreet abortion.

I focus on the foregoing images because what I most admire about Ernaux is her fearless self-revelation. She regularly shocks her reader. She is as controversial and as provocative as her compatriot, Marguerite Duras, in the extent of her self-disclosure.

But does she merely set out to be controversial for the sheer hell of it? I believe not. Personally, she has inspired me to be similarly self-revealing in my own writings. So I have begun to write about personal areas, intimate spaces of my life which I would have previously considered it unthinkable to share. Perhaps to write about such issues is cathartic for Ernaux and for her readers.

Annie Ernaux's writings have given me the courage to speak publicly and write about the intensely private areas of sexuality, coming out, coping with depression and obsessive anxieties, dealing with the jealousy of others as well as my own jealousy, being bullied as well as bullying, my recurring nightmares about my parents who died within a few months of each other. Nightmares in which they repeatedly suffer, disintegrate and die. Death is rehearsed over and over again.

So if and when I write my own 'roman autobiographique', it will certainly be dedicated to, and inspired by, Annie Ernaux.

I welcome this and other translations of her works into English, as literary translation helps to spread the important 'memes' of the highly original, thought-provoking texts of writers such as Ernaux.
The condition of the book and arrival time went as ... Nov. 2 2014
By D - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The condition of the book and arrival time went as advertised. Thanks.


Feedback