Paru le 4 Févr. 2015
ISBN 978-2-07-014803-5
172 pages
19.00 euros
  L'enfance politique

L'autoportrait bleu
L'état des sentiments à l'âge adulte
Poétique de l'emploi
Parle suivi de Tais-toi
  Noémi Lefebvre
  Réfugiée chez sa vieille mère, Martine regarde des séries dans son lit sans rien faire. S’installe alors une régression en miroir, conflictuelle et fusionnelle, traversée d’autres épreuves : tentatives de suicide puis camisole chimique. À l’hôpital, Martine refuse de passer aux aveux pour guérir et se lance dans une archéologie de l’enfance politique : et si le trauma ne tenait pas à quelque secret de famille mais résultait des barbaries du XXe siècle ? La violence qui l’a sidérée serait ainsi la poursuite de la guerre par d’autres moyens. Au lecteur de faire la part ici de ce qui relève de la confusion mentale ou de l’extralucidité.
Prenant les enjeux de ce psychodrame à contre-pied, Noémi Lefebvre donne à ce duo de femmes une vitalité burlesque, y compris dans les moments désespérés, et esquisse entre elles, in extremis, une complicité libératrice.

The initial setting of this novel seems simple: a symbiotic mother-daughter couple living together in an apartment. However the daughter, Martine (the narrator), is in fact 45 and as we gradually learn has retreated to her mother’s care following a crisis.

This homecoming reawakens in Martine a second adolescence. She spends her time smoking and lying around watching TV. Though prostrate, and suffering from an elusive trauma which becomes clearer as the narrative progresses, Martine is able to assess her mother’s life with almost psychic clarity. Their strained relationship shifts back and forth between consolation and recrimination. Martine is forced to confront the bigotries of her mother’s past such as her strict religious education under the auspices of Petain’s Vichy government. As tensions mount, collateral damage seems inevitable: Martine’s attempted suicide and subsequent hospitalization are fated.

L’enfance politique is no straightforwardly OEdipal psychodrama. Martine works obstinately to evade this game, refusing to cooperate with her therapists or to accept the role of “lab-rat” which accompanies a diagnosis of PTSD. Why must she make a confession to heal when, according to her, the pain she suffers is a result of a history fed on the terrors and propaganda of French society throughout the 20th century? Though contending with issues that range from the origins of sorrow, to the centuries long build-up of violence underling contemporary life, L’enfance politique [Political childhood] fizzes with energy and humour. Martine, despite her troubles, never forgets to laugh. Lefebvre’s writing maintains a burlesque vitality and lightness of touch which captures the prickly comedy of the women’s situation arising in even the most desperate moments.

“Noemi Lefebvre’s novel, with scouring power, harsh beauty, and a lucidity that does not leave us unhamed,excavates our political childhoods; a new way for the writer to say, in a text of incredible strength, how our identities are social and political, and how the outside can undermine intimacy." (
Médiapart – Christine Marcandier)