Marguerite Duras (French Edition)
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Worlds are built on dreams and desires. Read count: View all 25 comments.
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L'Amant looks simple on the surface. Marguerite Duras, about 70 when she wrote it, tells you about her first affair, with a rich Chinese man. She was a fifteen year old girl in colonial-era Vietnam, he was a dozen years older. Her family was desperately poor. Her mentally ill mother tacitly condoned the relationship; Marguerite's lover was generous, and they needed the money. Then she screamed at her daughter and beat her. The language is plain, unadorned and impersonal, stripped to its bare L'Amant looks simple on the surface.
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The language is plain, unadorned and impersonal, stripped to its bare essentials. Sometimes I almost felt I was reading a math text. The author is not trying to tell you a love story or complain about how fate, her lover or her family mistreated her. She just wants to write down what happened and make peace with it. The result is a beautiful and deeply affecting book. I wish I could write something like this. I thought back to things that had happened to me when I was a teenager and I tried to write about them the way Duras did, and I couldn't do it.
I can't detach enough. I can't be sufficiently objective. I can't stop myself from judging or interpreting. Here's a fragment, one piece I can see clearly. I hadn't seen my lover for some weeks; she had been sent overseas by her parents. Maybe it was because they disapproved of our relationship.
I went to visit her. She came to meet me at the station.
We went to a cheap hotel. We took our clothes off and got into bed. I held her, and she told me she had been unfaithful. There was a boy who was so stricken with her; she'd been unable to refuse him. I said it didn't matter. Then she said that there was a second man, older, a martial arts instructor.
She was sleeping with him regularly. She said it was different from other relationships she'd had; the sex was different. I asked how. Sometimes, she said, he just entered her, no foreplay, nothing, and that was somehow special. I said it was good to hold her. I could feel her body telling me that she still loved me. She said that she wasn't telling me anything.
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We pulled apart and got dressed, and we never slept together again. Some day, I might be able to tell the whole story and explain how it wasn't her fault, or mine. It just came out that way. View all 21 comments. This is a thin novella, but do not expect an easy read. Though translated from the original French, you will experience an almost immediate halt, like you are reading something in a different language.
And you are. It is the language of dreams. It is also the language of recollection. It does not flow in a typical fashion: it dips you in a moment then pulls you out just as you are getting used to the temperature of the water. It plunges you into another time and place, emoting a feeling out of This is a thin novella, but do not expect an easy read.
It plunges you into another time and place, emoting a feeling out of context and once again as you are getting your bearings, the scene changes again. Marguerite Duras wrote this as an older woman, and it's clear that this is heavily autobiographical.
The Lover (Duras novel) - Wikipedia
These are remembrances of herself at 15 and a half years young, and her erotic love affair with a 27 year old wealthy Chinese man. Again, the reader halts. A different time? Can we peer in on their affair without feeling uncomfortable? I'm not altogether sure. Yes, she's mature beyond her years. Yes, she seems to be the one in charge.
For me though, it treads the razor's edge of true-life Lolita , with his uncontrollable love for this girl, with his tearful, sexual obsession. A girl being dropped off at school in her lover's limousine. An unphotographed, lonely and serious girl, whose family life has sucked the childhood out of her.
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- Reader Interactions.
- Marguerite Duras (1914–1996).
Her father has died, her mother is mentally ill and is barely keeping the family afloat in manageable poverty, her older brother beats her. She looks back at this time with her Chinese lover as the pivotal time in her life. She tells him she will never love him. She tells him she is with him because of his money. She believes it, when she says it. She takes the money.
Her family devours the meals he pays for, wordlessly. She is unprepared for the shifting clouds, the imperceptible variations of the heart, carried on the notes of a Chopin waltz, that there was love, that love "was lost in the affair like water in sand". This love defines her, even into old age. A poetic, powerful, dreamy glance back at a love affair, painful in its secrecy, in its illicitness, in its doomed fate. Feb 20, Sue rated it really liked it Shelves: classics , historical-fiction , library-book , read , asia , france , vietnam. Now I know why several friends have mentioned that this book has special meaning for them.
I've never had a reading experience quite like this. A woman writing from her older years about her teenage experiences in Viet Nam with her Chinese lover, but also with her family. And also of her experience of Viet Nam itself--the natural world, the skies and trees and people, and customs both strange and familiar.
The book is an experiential wonder, slipping between past and present, the concrete Now I know why several friends have mentioned that this book has special meaning for them. The book is an experiential wonder, slipping between past and present, the concrete observations of the moment and whimsical, beautiful thoughts of the natural world and the history of mankind. I loved so many of these interludes and cited many in my status updates.
And there is her much older lover, a man some 12 years older than this 15 year old girl who manifestly shouts to the world how strongly she does not love him. She'd wept without letting anyone see her tears, because he was Chinese and one oughtn't to weep for that kind of lover. Wept without letting her mother or her younger brother see she was sad, without letting them see anything, as was the custom between them.
We won't know. But there is despair as she leaves for France. I feel that I have now truly read an actual soulful book. Duras' soul seems to permeate the entire piece in all its contradictions of emotions and feelings, observations of life and family, loves and hates and fears and hopes. For me the sometimes disconnected style was perfect for presenting and reflecting all of this. Definitely recommended. View all 34 comments. Jan 12, Duane rated it it was amazing Shelves: romance , rated-books , reviewed-books , book-challenge , french , guardian When I picked this book up I was drawn to the haunting picture of the girl on the cover, which turns out to be Marguerite Duras, the author.
After reading I'm thinking, I can't believe this book is not more prominent in the mainstream of modern literature.