“Change: method”, by Edouard Louis: the art of looking back

“Changer: method”, by Edouard Louis, Seuil, 336 p., € 20, digital € 15.

He has more memories than if he were a thousand years old. It is in any case this impression, linked to that of having “Crossed a multitude of worlds”, to have them “Experienced in [s]flesh ” which prompted Edouard Louis to write Change: method. He tells us about it at a café terrace on this left bank where the former child of Hallencourt (Somme), who, during his first years in Paris, was led to prostitute himself as well as to frequent ultra upscale circles, seems to have ended up. by finding himself. As long as you get out of it regularly, to give a semester of lessons in an American university, to play in the theater in a European capital, to travel …

“A form of personal odyssey”

When he set himself this project “To write a form of personal odyssey, which would span several years, several universes”, the writer was only 24 years old. He had just published History of violence (Seuil, 2016), two years after the explosion Ending Eddy Bellegueule (Threshold), this evocation of a childhood in a Picard “lumpenproletariat” which rejected him for his precious manners. This inaugural work, he describes it as “The story of a failure, that of someone who does not manage to integrate into an environment and who has to leave”. He pursues : “But basically, I lived the rest of my life in this same mode of failure, arriving in worlds where I believed I could be happy, adapt myself, but to which I did not correspond. “

Change: method returns on this trajectory, from the village of childhood to the whole world that the writer walks today thanks to the international success of his books, via Amiens, where he was a high school student eager to learn the social codes of the bourgeoisie with her friend Elena, then Paris. He does it in a way “Less directly political”, less Bourdieuian than his other texts, focusing not on demonstrating the logic of domination (however present) than on restoring the part of contingency in a destiny like his, the place of “Encounters and chances” that bifurcate a life.

Read also this meeting of 2018: Edouard Louis or the art of confrontation

To relate this journey of “class defector”, it was immediately out of the question for Edouard Louis to adopt a heroic mode (“The flower side that grows on manure”). It was also clear that the stake would be, in a sense, to “Rehabilitate these people who have moved from one world to another”, who “Steal lives that were not given to them”. Look at the disastrous reputation that Rastignac is dragging (“Yet he is the only one who takes care of Father Goriot, at the end”) or Georges Duroy from Nice friend (“The back cover of the edition in which I read it speaks of him only in insulting terms! “).

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