Marguerite Duras was a French writer born in Vietnam. Her major work, as English audiences know it, is a book called The Lover, which focuses on a 15-year-old girl’s affair with a wealthy Chinese man. (In French, the book’s title is L’amant.)
I first discovered Duras’ work during a creative writing seminar on experimental fiction, where my instructor lent me a copy of the book because she found our writing styles to be similar. The book’s subject matter deals with the love affair between two people, exploring both the girl’s feelings (looking back) and the man’s decision to be dutiful to his family and break things off, but most reviewers emphasize its mood and sparse writing style over this rather simple plot.
If you haven’t read The Lover, I would definitely recommend it. It’s hard to describe in just a few sentences, because it is certainly experimental in tone and jumps around in time as well, but it’s very beautifully written. Devote a lazy Sunday to it and see if it grabs you.
My Significant Authors describes Duras, the woman, better than I could ever hope to do, so be sure to check out her blog on the subject here. There is also an unusual New York Times piece by Matt Gross that attempts to retrace the footsteps of Duras in Vietnam, entitled “Footsteps: Marguerite Duras’s ‘The Lover’” which you should check out if you’re still curious.
Here is a Duras quote for you to ponder:
I see journalists as the manual workers, the laborers of the word. Journalism can only be literature when it is passionate.
What do you think? And who is your favorite D author?