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Duras, Marguerite

DURAS, Marguerite



Nationality: French. Born: Marguerite Donnadieu in Giadinh, French Indo-China, 1914. Education: Educated in mathematics, law and political science at the Sorbonne, Paris. Career: Published first novel, Les Impudents, 1943; subsequently novelist, journalist and playwright; directed first film, La Musica, 1966. Awards: Prix Goncourt for novel L'Amant, 1984, Ritz Paris Hemingway, Paris, 1986. Died: 3 March 1996, in Paris, France.


Films as Director:

1966

La Musica (co-d, sc)

1969

Détruire, dit-elle (Destroy She Said) (+ sc)

1971

Jaune le soleil (+ pr, co-ed, sc, from her novel Abahn, Sabana, David)

1972

Nathalie Granger (+ sc, music)

1974

La Femme du Ganges (+ sc)

1975

India Song (+ sc, voice)

1976

Des journées entières dans les arbres (Days in the Trees) (+ sc); Son Nom de Venises dans Calcutta desert (+ sc)

1977

Baxter, Vera Baxter (+ sc); Le Camion (+ sc, role)

1978

Le Navire Night (+ sc)

1978/79

Aurelia Steiner (4-film series): Cesarée (1978) (+ sc); Les Mains négatives (1978) (+ sc); Aurelia Steiner—Melbourne (1979) (+ sc); Aurelia Steiner—Vancouver (1979) (+ sc)

1981

Agatha et les lectures illimitées (Agatha) (+ sc)

1985

Les Enfants (The Children)



Other Films:

1959

Hiroshima mon amour (Resnais) (sc)

1960

Moderato Cantabile (Brook) (sc, co-adapt from her novel)

1961

Une Aussi longue absence (The Long Absence) (Colpi) (co-sc from her novel)

1964

Nuit noire, Calcutta (Karmitz) (short) (sc)

1965

"Les rideaux blancs" (Franju) episode of Der Augenblick des Friedens (Un Instant de la paix) (for W.German TV) (sc)

1966

10:30 P.M. Summer (Dassin) (co-sc uncredited, from her novel) (Dix heures et demie du soir en été); La Voleuse (Chapot) (sc, dialogue)

1991

L'Amant (The Lover) (co-sc)



Publications


By DURAS: screenplays—

Hiroshima mon amour, Paris, 1959.

Moderato Cantabile, with Gérard Jarlot and Peter Brook, 1960.

Une Aussi longue absence, with Gérard Jarlot, Paris, 1961.

10:30 P.M. Summer, with Jules Dassin, Paris, 1966.

La Musica, Paris, 1966.

Detruire, dit-elle, Paris, 1969; as Destroy, She Said, New York, 1970.

Les rideaux blancs, Paris, 1966.

Jaune le soleil, Paris, 1971

Nathalie Granger, suivi de La Femme du Gange, Paris, 1973.

India Song—texte—theatre—film, Paris, 1975; as India Song, New York, 1976.

Des journées entières dans les arbres, Paris, 1976.

Son Nom de Venises dans Calcutta desert, Paris, 1976.

Le Camion, Paris, 1977.

Le Navire Night, Césarée, Les Mains négatives, Aurelia Steiner, Paris, 1979.

Vera Baxter; ou, Les Plages de l'Atlantique, Paris, 1980.

Agatha, Paris, 1981.

Les Enfants, Paris, 1985.


By DURAS: fiction—

Les Impudents, Paris, 1943.

La Vie tranquille, Paris, 1944.

Un Barrage contre le Pacifique, Paris, 1950; as The Sea Wall, New York, 1952; as A Sea of Troubles, London, 1953.

Le Marin de Gibraltar, Paris, 1952; as The Sailor from Gibraltar, London and New York, 1966.

Les Petits Chevaux de Tarquinia, Paris, 1953; as The Little Horses ofTarquinia, London, 1960.

Des journées entières dans les arbres, Paris, 1954; as Whole Days inthe Trees, New York, 1981.

Le Square, Paris, 1955.

Moderato Cantabile, Paris, 1958, and New York, 1987.

Dix heures et demi du soir en été, Paris, 1960; as Ten-Thirty ona Summer Night, London, 1962.

L'Après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas, Paris, 1962; as The Afternoonof Monsieur Andesmas, London, 1964.

Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein, Paris, 1964; as The Ravishing of LolV. Stein, New York, 1967; as The Rapture of Lol V. Stein, London, 1967.

Le Vice-consul, Paris, 1966; as The Vice-Consul, London, 1968, New York, 1987.

L'Amante anglaise, Paris, 1967, New York, 1968.

Abahn, Sabana, David, Paris, 1970.

L'Amour, Paris, 1971.

Ah! Ernesto, with Bernard Bonhomme, Paris, 1971.

La Maladie de la mort, Paris, 1983; as The Malady of Death, New York, 1986.

L'Amant, Paris, 1984; as The Lover, New York, 1985; translated b1y Barbara Bray, New York, 1998.

Hiroshima Mon Amor, translated by Richard Seaver, New York, 1987.

Les Yeux bleus cheveux noirs, Paris, 1987; as Blue Eyes, Black Hair, London and New York, 1988.

Emily L., Paris, 1987, New York, 1989.


By DURAS: plays—

Théâtre 1 (includes Les Eaux et forets, Le Square, La Musica), Paris, 1965.

Théâtre 2 (includes Susanna Andler; Yes, peut-étre; Le Shaga; Desjournées entières dans les arbres; Un Homme est venu me voir), Paris, 1968.

L'Homme assis dans le couloir, Paris, 1980.

L'Homme Atlantique, Paris, 1982.

Savannah Bay, Paris, 1982.

The Square, Edinburgh, 1986.

Yes, peut-etre, Edinburgh, 1986.


By DURAS: other books—

Les Parleuses, with Xaviere Gauthier, Paris, 1974.

Étude sur l'oeuvre littéraire, théâtrale, et cinématographique, with Jacques Lacan and Maurice Blanchot, Paris, 1976.

Territoires du féminin, with Marcelle Marini, Paris, 1977.

Les Lieux de Duras, with Michelle Porte, Paris, 1978.

L'Été 80, Paris, 1980.

Outside: Papiers d'un jour, Paris, 1981, Boston 1986.

The War: A Memoir, New York, 1986.

The Physical Side, London, 1990.


By DURAS: articles—

"Conversation with Marguerite Duras," with Richard Roud, in Sightand Sound (London), Winter 1959/60.

"Marguerite Duras en toute liberté," interview with F. Dufour, in Cinéma (Paris), April 1972.

"Du livre au film," in Image et Son (Paris), April 1974.

"India Song, a Chant of Love and Death," interview with F. Dawson, in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1975.

"India Song and Marguerite Duras," interview with Carlos Clarens, in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1975/76.

Interview with J.-C. Bonnet and J. Fieschi, in Cinématographe (Paris), November 1977.

"Les Yeux verts," special issue written and edited by Duras, of Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June 1980.

Interview with D. Fasoli, in Filmcritica (Florence), June 1981.

Interview with A. Grunert, in Filmfaust (Frankfurt), February-March 1982.

"The Places of Marguerite Duras," an interview with M. Porte, in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Spring 1983.

Interview with P. Bonitzer, C. Tesson, and Serge Toubiana, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), July-August 1985.

Interview with Jean-Luc Godard, in Cinéma (Paris), 30 December 1987.

Interview with Colette Mazabrard, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1989.

"Jacquot filme Duras," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), May 1993.


On DURAS: books—

Bernheim, N.-L., Marguerite Duras tourne un film, Paris, 1976.

Ropars-Wuilleumier, Marie-Claire, La Texte divisé, Paris, 1981.

Trastulli, Daniela, Dalla parola all imagine: Viaggio nel cinema diMarguerite Duras, Geneva, 1982.

Borgomano, Madeleine, L'Ecriture filmique de Marguerite Duras, Paris, 1985.

Brossard, Jean-Pierre, editor, Marguerite Duras: Cinéaste, écrivain, La Chaux-de-Fonde, 1985.

Guers-Villate, Yvonne, Continuité/discontinuité de l'oeuvreDurassienne, Brussels, 1985.

Fernandes, Marie-Pierre, Travailler avec Duras: La musica deuxième, Paris, 1986.

Selous, Trista, The Other Woman: Feminism and Femininity in theWork of Marguerite Duras, New Haven, Connecticut, 1988.


On DURAS: articles—

Gollub, Judith, "French Writers Turned Film Makers," in FilmHeritage (New York), Winter 1968/69.

"Reflections in a Broken Glass," in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1975.

Lakeland, M.J., "Marguerite Duras in 1977," in Camera Obscura (Berkeley), Fall 1977.

Van Wert, W.F., "The Cinema of Marguerite Duras: Sound and Voice in a Closed Room," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1979.

Seni, N., "Wahrnehungsformen von Zeit und Raum am Beispiel der Filme von Marguerite Duras und Chantal Akerman," in Frauenund Film (Berlin), September 1979.

"Marguerite Duras à l'action," in Positif (Paris), July/August 1980.

Andermatt, V., "Big Mach (on the Truck)," in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Spring 1980.

Lyon, E., "Marguerite Duras: Bibliography/Filmography," in Camera Obscura (Berkeley), Fall 1980.

Murphy, C.J., "The Role of Desire in the Films of Marguerite Duras," in Quarterly Review of Film Studies (New York), Winter 1982.

Fedwik, P., "Marguerite Duras: Feminine Field of Nostalgia," in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Fall 1982.

Sarrut, B., "Marguerite Duras: Barrages against the Pacific," in OnFilm (Los Angeles), Summer 1983.

Murphy, C.J., "New Narrative Regions: The Role of Desire in the Films and Novels of Marguerite Duras," in Literature/FilmQuarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), April 1984.

Le Masson, H., "La voix tatouee," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), January 1985.

McWilliams, D., "Aesthetic Tripling: Marguerite Duras's Le navireNight," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), January 1986.

Cottent-Hage, M., "Le camion de Marguerite Duras, ou comment assurer la libre circulation," in Post Script (Commerce), vol. 7, no. 1, Fall 1987.

Williams, Bruce, "Splintered Perspectives: Counterpoint and Subjectivity in the Modernist Film Narrative," in Film Criticism (Meadville), vol. 15, no. 2, Winter 1991.

Grange, M.F., "Corps filmique entre lisible et visible chez Marguerite Duras," in Cinémas (Montreal), vol. 3, no. 1, Autumn 1992.

Vajdovich, G., "Antiregény és anitfilm," in Filmkultura (Budapest), April 1995.

Johnston, Trevor, "French Lessons," in Time Out (London), 18 October 1995.

DuPont, J., "The Enduring Duras," in Village Voice (New York), 9 April 1996.

Obituary, in EPD Film (Frankfurt), April 1996.

Obituary, in Kino (Sofia), no. 2, 1996.

Obituary, in Classic Images (Muscatine), May 1996.

Obituary, in Skrien (Amsterdam), June-July 1996.

Roy, André, "Marguerite Duras, moderne," in 24 Images (Montreal), no. 82, Summer 1996.

Everett, Wendy, "Director as Composer: Marguerite Duras and the Musical Analogy," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury), April 1998.


* * *

As a writer, Marguerite Duras's work is identified, along with that of such authors as Alain Robbe-Grillet and Jean Cayrol, with the tradition of the New Novel. Duras began working in film as a screenwriter, with an original script for Alain Resnais's first feature, Hiroshima mon amour. She subsequently wrote a number of film adaptations from her novels. She directed her first film, La Musica, in 1966. If Hiroshima mon amour remains her best-known work in cinema, her later films have won widespread praise for the profound challenge they offer to conventional dramatic narrative.

The nature of narrative and the potential contained in a single text are major concerns of Duras's films. Many of her works have appeared in several forms, as novels, plays, and films. This not only involves adaptations of a particular work, but also extends to cross-referential networks that run through her texts. The film Woman of the Ganges combines elements from three novels—The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein, The Vice-Consul, and L'Amour. India Song was initially written as a play, taking characters from The Vice-Consul and elaborating on the structure of external voices developed in Woman of the Ganges. India Song was made as a film in 1975, and its verbal track was used to generate a second film, Son Nom de Venises dans Calcutta desert. This process of transformation suggests that all works are "in progress," inherently subject to being reconstructed. This is partly because Duras's works are more concerned with the quality or intensity of experience than with events per se. The films present narrative rather than a linear, unambiguous sequence of events. In Le Camion, two characters, played by Gerard Depardieu and Duras, sit in a room as the woman describes a movie about a woman who hitches a ride with a truck driver and talks with him for an hour and twenty minutes. This conversation is intercut with scenes of a truck driving around Paris, and stopping for a female hitchhiker (with Depardieu as the driver, and Duras as the hitchhiker). Thus, the verbal description of a potential film is juxtaposed by images of what that film might be.

An emphasis on the soundtrack is also a crucial aspect of Duras's films; her verbal texts are lyrical and are as important as the images. In India Song, sound and image function contrapuntally, and the audience must actively assess the relation between them, reading across the body of the film, noting continuities and disjunctions. The verbal text often refers in past tense to events and characters on screen, as the viewer is challenged to figure out the chronology of events described and depicted—which name on the soundtrack corresponds to which actor, whether the voices belong to on- or off-screen characters, and so forth. In this way the audience participates in the search for a story, constructing possible narratives.

As minimal as they are, Duras's narratives are partially derived from melodrama, focusing on relations between men and women, the nature or structure of desire, and colonialism and imperialism in both literal and metaphoric terms. In pursuing these issues through nonconventional narrative forms, and shifting the burden of discovering meaning to the audience, Duras's films provide an alternative to conventional ways of watching movies. Her work is seen as exemplifying a feminine writing practice that challenges the patriarchal domination of classical narrative cinema. In an interview, Duras said, "I think the future belongs to women. Men have been completely dethroned. Their rhetoric is stale, used up. We must move on to the rhetoric of women, one that is anchored in the organism, in the body." It is this new rhetoric, a new way of communicating, that Duras strives for in her films.

—M.B. White

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"Duras, Marguerite." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Duras, Marguerite

DURAS, Marguerite


Writer. Nationality: French. Born: Marguerite Donnadieu in Giadinh, French Indo-China, 1914. Education: Educated in mathematics, law and political science at the Sorbonne, Paris. Career: Published first novel, Les Impudents, 1943; subsequently novelist, journalist and playwright; directed first film, La Musica, 1966. Awards: Prix Goncourt for novel L'Amant, 1984; CICAE Award, CIDALC Award, and Silver Berlin Bear Honorable Mention, Berlin International Film Festival, all for Les Enfants, 1985; Died: 3 March 1996, in Paris, France.


Films as Writer:

1959

Hiroshima mon amour (Resnais)

1960

Moderato Cantabile (Brook) (co-adapt from her novel)

1961

Une Aussi longue absence (The Long Absence) (Colpi) (co-sc from her novel)

1964

Nuit noire, Calcutta (Karmitz) (short)

1965

"Les rideaux blancs" (Franju) episode of Der Augenblick des Friedens (Un Instant de la paix) (for W. German TV)

1966

10:30 P.M. Summer (Dassin) (co-sc uncredited, from her novel) (Dix heures et demie du soir en été); La Voleuse (Chapot) (+ dialogue); La Musica (+ co-d)

1969

Détruire, dit-elle (Destroy She Said) (+ d)

1971

Jaune le soleil (+ d, pr, co-ed, from her novel Abahn, Sabana, David)

1972

Nathalie Granger (+ d, music)

1974

La Femme du Ganges (+ d)

1975

India Song (+ d, voice)

1976

Des journées entières dans les arbres (Days in the Trees) (+ d); Son Nom de Venises dans Calcutta desert (+ d)

1977

Baxter, Vera Baxter (+ d); Le Camion (+ d, role)

1978

Le Navire Night (+ d)

1978/79

Aurelia Steiner (4-film series): Cesarée (1978) (+ d); Les Mains négatives (1978) (+ d); Aurelia Steiner—Melbourne (1979) (+ d); Aurelia Steiner—Vancouver (1979) (+ d)

1981

Agatha et les lectures illimitées (Agatha) (+ d)

1991

L'Amant (The Lover) (co-sc)



Other Films:

1985

Les Enfants (The Children) (d)



Publications


By DURAS: screenplays—

Hiroshima mon amour, Paris, 1959.

Moderato Cantabile, with Gérard Jarlot and Peter Brook, 1960.

Une Aussi longue absence, with Gérard Jarlot, Paris, 1961.

10:30 P.M. Summer, with Jules Dassin, Paris, 1966.

La Musica, Paris, 1966.

Detruire, dit-elle, Paris, 1969; as Destroy, She Said, New York, 1970.

Les rideaux blancs, Paris, 1966.

Jaune le soleil, Paris, 1971

Nathalie Granger, suivi de La Femme du Gange, Paris, 1973.

India Song—texte—theatre—film, Paris, 1975; as India Song, New York, 1976.

Des journées entières dans les arbres, Paris, 1976.

Son Nom de Venises dans Calcutta desert, Paris, 1976.

Le Camion, Paris, 1977.

Le Navire Night, Césarée, Les Mains négatives, Aurelia Steiner, Paris, 1979.

Vera Baxter; ou, Les Plages de l'Atlantique, Paris, 1980.

Agatha, Paris, 1981.

Les Enfants, Paris, 1985.


By DURAS: fiction—

Les Impudents, Paris, 1943.

La Vie tranquille, Paris, 1944.

Un Barrage contre le Pacifique, Paris, 1950; as The Sea Wall, New York, 1952; as A Sea of Troubles, London, 1953.

Le Marin de Gibraltar, Paris, 1952; as The Sailor From Gibraltar, London and New York, 1966.

Les Petits Chevaux de Tarquinia, Paris, 1953; as The Little Horses of Tarquinia, London, 1960.

Des journées entières dans les arbres, Paris, 1954; as Whole Days in the Trees, New York, 1981.

Le Square, Paris, 1955.

Moderato Cantabile, Paris, 1958, and New York, 1987.

Dix heures et demi du soir en été, Paris, 1960; as Ten-Thirty on a Summer Night, London, 1962.

L'Après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas, Paris, 1962; as The Afternoon of Monsieur Andesmas, London, 1964.

Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein, Paris, 1964; as The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein, New York, 1967; as The Rapture of Lol V. Stein, London, 1967.

Le Vice-consul, Paris, 1966; as The Vice-Consul, London, 1968, New York, 1987.

L'Amante anglaise, Paris, 1967, New York, 1968.

Abahn, Sabana, David, Paris, 1970.

L'Amour, Paris, 1971.

Ah! Ernesto, with Bernard Bonhomme, Paris, 1971.

La Maladie de la mort, Paris, 1983; as The Malady of Death, New York, 1986.

L'Amant, Paris, 1984; as The Lover, New York, 1985.

Hiroshima mon amour, translated by Richard Seaver, New York, 1987.

Les Yeux bleus cheveux noirs, Paris, 1987; as Blue Eyes, Black Hair, London and New York, 1988.

Emily L., Paris, 1987, New York, 1989.

The Lover, introduction by Maxine Hong Kingston, translated by Barbara Bray, New York, 1998.


By DURAS: plays—

Théâtre 1 (includes Les Eaux et forets, Le Square, La Musica), Paris, 1965.

Théâtre 2 (includes Susanna Andler; Yes, peut-étre; Le Shaga; Des journées entières dans les arbres; Un Homme est venu me voir), Paris, 1968.

L'Homme assis dans le couloir, Paris, 1980.

L'Homme Atlantique, Paris, 1982.

Savannah Bay, Paris, 1982.

The Square, Edinburgh, 1986.

Yes, peut-etre, Edinburgh, 1986.


By DURAS: other books—

Les Parleuses, with Xaviere Gauthier, Paris, 1974.

Étude sur l'oeuvre littéraire, théâtrale, et cinématographique, with Jacques Lacan and Maurice Blanchot, Paris, 1976.

Territoires du féminin, with Marcelle Marini, Paris, 1977.

Les Lieux de Duras, with Michelle Porte, Paris, 1978.

L'Été 80, Paris, 1980.

Outside: Papiers d'un jour, Paris, 1981, Boston 1986.

The War: A Memoir, New York, 1986.

The Physical Side, London, 1990.

By DURAS: articles—

"Conversation with Marguerite Duras," with Richard Roud, in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1959/60.

"Marguerite Duras en toute liberté," interview with F. Dufour, in Cinéma (Paris), April 1972.

"Du livre au film," in Image et Son (Paris), April 1974.

"India Song, a Chant of Love and Death," interview with F. Dawson, in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1975.

"India Song and Marguerite Duras," interview with Carlos Clarens, in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1975/76.

Interview with J.-C. Bonnet and J. Fieschi, in Cinématographe (Paris), November 1977.

"Les Yeux verts," special issue written and edited by Duras, of Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June 1980.

Interview with D. Fasoli, in Filmcritica (Florence), June 1981.

Interview with A. Grunert, in Filmfaust (Frankfurt), February-March 1982.

"The places of Marguerite Duras," an interview with M. Porte, in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Spring 1983.

Interview with P. Bonitzer, C. Tesson, and Serge Toubiana, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), July-August 1985.

Interview with Jean-Luc Godard, in Cinéma (Paris), 30 December 1987.

Interview with Colette Mazabrard, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1989.

"Jacquot filme Duras," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), May 1993.


On DURAS: books—

Bernheim, N.-L., Marguerite Duras tourne un film, Paris, 1976.

Ropars-Wuilleumier, Marie-Claire, La Texte divisé, Paris, 1981.

Trastulli, Daniela, Dalla parola all imagine: Viaggio nel cinema di Marguerite Duras, Geneva, 1982.

Borgomano, Madeleine, L'Ecriture filmique de Marguerite Duras, Paris, 1985.

Brossard, Jean-Pierre, editor, Marguerite Duras: Cinéaste, écrivain, La Chaux-de-Fonde, 1985.

Guers-Villate, Yvonne, Continuité/discontinuité de l'oeuvre Durassienne, Brussels, 1985.

Fernandes, Marie-Pierre, Travailler avec Duras: La musica deuxième, Paris, 1986.

Selous, Trista, The Other Woman: Feminism and Femininity in the Work of Marguerite Duras, New Haven, Connecticut, 1988.

Vircondelet, Alain, Duras: A Biography, translated by Thomas Buckley, Normal, Illinois, 1994.

Adler, Laure, Marguerite Duras: A Life, translated by Anne-Marie Glasheen, Chicago, 2000.


On DURAS: articles—

Gollub, Judith, "French Writers Turned Film Makers," in Film Heritage (New York), Winter 1968/69.

"Reflections in a Broken Glass," in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1975.

Lakeland, M.J., "Marguerite Duras in 1977," in Camera Obscura (Berkeley), Fall 1977.

Van Wert, W.F., "The Cinema of Marguerite Duras: Sound and Voice in a Closed Room," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1979.

Seni, N., "Wahrnehungsformen von Zeit und Raum am Beispiel der Filme von Marguerite Duras und Chantal Akerman," in Frauen und Film (Berlin), September 1979.

"Marguerite Duras à l'action," in Positif (Paris), July/August 1980.

Andermatt, V., "Big mach (on the truck)," in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Spring 1980.

Lyon, E., "Marguerite Duras: Bibliography/Filmography," in Camera Obscura (Berkeley), Fall 1980.

Murphy, C.J., "The role of desire in the films of Marguerite Duras," in Quarterly Review of Film Studies (New York), Winter 1982.

Fedwik, P., "Marguerite Duras: Feminine Field of Nostalgia," in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Fall 1982.

Sarrut, B., "Marguerite Duras: Barrages against the Pacific," in On Film (Los Angeles), Summer 1983.

Murphy, C.J., "New narrative regions: The role of desire in the films and novels of Marguerite Duras," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), April 1984.

Le Masson, H., "La voix tatouee," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), January 1985.

McWilliams, D., "Aesthetic tripling: Marguerite Duras's Le navire Night," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), January 1986.

Cottent-Hage, M., "Le camion de Marguerite Duras, ou comment assurer la libre circulation," in Post Script (Commerce), vol. 7, no. 1, Fall 1987.

Williams, Bruce, "Splintered Perspectives: Counterpoint and Subjectivity in the Modernist Film Narrative," in Film Criticism (Meadville), vol. 15, no. 2, Winter 1991.

Grange, M.F., "Corps filmique entre lisible et visible chez Marguerite Duras," in Cinémas (Montreal), vol. 3, no. 1, Autumn 1992.

Vajdovich, G., "Antiregény és anitfilm," in Filmkultura (Budapest), April 1995.

Johnston, Trevor, "French Lessons," in Time Out (London), 18 October 1995.

DuPont, J., "The Enduring Duras," in Village Voice (New York), 9 April 1996.

Obituary, in EPD Film (Frankfurt), April 1996.

Obituary, in Kino (Sofia), no. 2, 1996.

Obituary, in Classic Images (Muscatine), May 1996.

Obituary, in Skrien (Amsterdam), June-July 1996.

Roy, André, "Marguerite Duras, moderne," in 24 Images (Montreal), no. 82, Summer 1996.

Everett, Wendy, "Director as Composer: Marguerite Duras and the Musical Analogy," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury), April 1998.


* * *

Marguerite Duras brought the same qualities that made her a lyrical yet powerful novelist and playwright to her screenplays. Duras' work, originally influenced by such American writers as Hemingway and Steinbeck, drew on her unique life which began in what was then Indochina and is now Vietnam. She left Asia in the early 1930s for Paris and began publishing novels that were celebrated for their untraditional narrative structure. For Duras, certainty and a linear plot gave way to work that explored, instead, ambiguity and silences. She was, she said, exploring the "interplay of love and destruction."

She turned to screenwriting in 1959 when French director Alain Resnais asked her to write the screenplay for his film, Hiroshima, Mon Amour, which closely resembled the novel, Moderato Cantiblis (1958), that established her literary reputation. The film explores the brief extra-marital relationship between a French woman (played by Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (played by Eiji Okada.) The film won critical acclaim (the International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the New York Film Critics Best Foreign Language Film Award) in part for the innovative use of flashbacks to the war when the woman was involved with a German soldier. The haunting story, which was able to juxtapose such seemingly disparate themes as Hiroshima and love, reflected Duras' preoccupation with desire, death, love and memory. Although Duras was nominated for an Academy Award for her work as a screenwriter, she was unhappy enough with the result that she claimed she would never again let anyone else direct her words on the screen.

Duras continued to write for the screen and began to direct as well. In 1975 her screenplay for India Song demonstrated Duras' continuing connection to the Asia of her youth, a place that is, for her, emblematic of an unattainable desire and unknowable longing which, sought through memory, can only, finally, be resolved in death. The 1977 adaptation of her novel, Le Camion, which she directed, features a scene in which Duras herself reads star Gerard Depardieu the scenario of the film, which focuses on a truck driver and a mysterious woman hitch-hiker. Duras directed in order to be able to "preserve textual obscurity."

Her 1985 novel, L'aimant (The Lover), perhaps her finest work, returned to the Indochina of her youth. The New York Times Book Review praised it for the same qualities that infused the film (released in 1991): its "masterly balance between formalism and powerful emotional effect." Duras was uniquely capable of creating what has been called cinematic prose, or "literary films." Her innovative work as a screenwriter and director paved the way for such minimalist women filmmakers as Chantal Ackerman who followed in the wake of Duras' artistic legacy.

—Nina Bjornsson

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Duras, Marguerite

Marguerite Duras

Marguerite Duras (1914–1996) was one of France's most famous writers of the twentieth century. Her talents ranged across fiction, film, playwriting, and journalism, and all through her long career, just the mention of her name could be counted on to start a spirited discussion in a Parisian café or in an American or English college literature or women's studies department. A compulsive worker, Duras wrote 34 novels and a wide variety of shorter works, returning to writing even after a stroke robbed her of the use of her dominant hand.

Duras revealed her own tumultuous experiences in many of her writings, but she used fiction to disguise, dig into the underlying motivations behind, or elaborate upon actual events. She wove the clues of her own life into her writings, but her public utterances contradicted one another and tied biographers in knots. Key episodes in her early life are subjects of dispute, and Duras' own outspokenness and intensity made it hard to know when to take her statements at face value. Yet the dance of veils choreographed by Duras' fiction and public image was all part of her appeal. Duras was a daring innovator, using fiction to view the events of her life through a constantly changing set of lenses.

Spoke Fluent Vietnamese

Duras retold the events of her early life over and over again in her books. She was born Marguerite Donnadieu on April 4, 1914, in Gia Dinh, near Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in the French colony of Indochina, now the country of Vietnam. As a young woman she learned to speak Vietnamese fluently, and, except for two years she spent at a family home near the town of Duras in southwestern France, she grew up in southeast Asia. Her father, a math teacher, died when she was four.

After Henri Donnadieu's death, Duras' mother Marie tried to put the family on a solid financial footing by buying a rice plantation on the coastline of what is now Cambodia. She was swindled, however, by corrupt officials in the French colonial government, and she found that the land she had acquired was so often swamped by seawater that it was unsuitable for farming. Repeated unsuccessful attempts to build a seawall further drained the family's savings. Duras attended high school in Saigon, but finances had declined to a point where she found herself poorer than many of her Asian classmates.

Encouraged by her mother, Duras embarked on a romantic and sexual liaison with a wealthy Asian man. One of Duras' many biographers, Laure Adler, working from an unpublished Duras diary, has asserted that Duras was essentially sold into prostitution by her mother in order to finance the drug habit of her brother Pierre, but this characterization of events has been strongly disputed by her son, Jean Mascolo. Both the affair and the family battle with the encroaching ocean would recur as motifs in Duras' writing.

That writing career would take more than a decade to get underway. Duras moved alone to France in 1932 and was admitted to the Sorbonne, a prestigious university in Paris. She studied law, political science, and mathematics there, and after she received her degree in 1935 she took a job with the Ministry of Colonies, working for the same bureaucracy that had cheated her mother out of the family inheritance. As with so many other aspects of her life, controversy has attended Duras' work during this period; using the name Marie Donnadieu, she penned a propaganda volume that laid out justifications for France's colonial adventures in Asia. It may be, however, that she was acting as a ghostwriter for a higher official. In 1939 Duras married a writer, Robert Antelme. The couple's first child was stillborn in 1942.

Became Involved with French Resistance

Duras' actions during World War II are likewise uncertain. Adler's biography claims that she worked for the Nazi puppet government in Vichy, France as a de facto censor, controlling the distribution of paper in occupied France. This claim, too, has been disputed by Mascolo. It is clear, however, that World War II turned Duras' life upside down, causing her to reevaluate her earlier life and present situation. She struck out in new directions both politically and artistically. By 1943, Duras was working for the French anti-Nazi resistance, and her first novel, Les impudents (The Impudent Ones) was published that year.

The head of her resistance cell was a man she knew as Morland who later became better known as François Mitterand, president of France for 14 years beginning in 1981. Duras herself narrowly escaped arrest by the Nazis, but her husband and sister-in-law were seized and sent to concentration camps. She claimed to have once saved Mitterand's life, and German rule fell apart toward the war's end with the advance of American troops, Mitterand returned the favor, finding Antelme near death in the Dachau camp and rescuing him.

Meanwhile, Duras' literary career had begun to rise from the ashes of war. Les impudents dealt with a fictionalized version of her family's part-time hometown of Duras, and she soon adopted the town's name as her own. Her second novel, La vie tranquille (The Tranquil Life, 1944), was also set in Duras, and the two novels both featured a negative mother figure whom Duras would revisit in various ways in many later writings. La vie tranquille attracted the attention of writer Raymond Queneau, who shepherded the book toward publication at the prestigious Gallimard house in Paris.

After the war, Duras joined the Communist party but resigned her membership in 1950 upon finding Communist doctrine too restrictive. She helped nurse Antelme back to health but also began an affair with writer Dionys Mascolo. For a time the three lived as a ménage à trois, and Mascolo became the father of Duras' only son, Jean Mascolo. Duras scored a critical breakthrough in 1950 with the publication of her novel Un barrage contre le Pacifique (translated as The Sea Wall), which was drawn on her family's experiences in Indochina.

Wrote Prescient Essay

Duras wrote voluminously in the 1950s, venturing into journalism as well as fiction. As her reputation grew, she became one of France's most familiar public intellectuals, quick with a sharp opinion even if she might sometimes contradict herself. "I think the future belongs to women," Duras said in an interview quoted in Women Filmmakers and Their Films. "Men have been completely dethroned. Their rhetoric is stale, used up. We must move on to the rhetoric of women, one that is anchored in the organism, in the body." Yet she also once said, according to the Scotsman, that "I am in favor of total submission to men. This is how I've got everything I wanted."

Some of Duras' early novels were sprawling, detailed narratives influenced in part by the expansive style of American writer Ernest Hemingway, but gradually she came under the influence of modernist trends. She won praise for the 1955 novel Le square and for 1958's Moderato cantabile, both composed nearly entirely of dialogue that seems to circulate around the edges of unspoken events. In 1959, leading French film director Alain Resnais asked Duras to write a screenplay for him. Although Duras had done little dramatic writing, Hiroshima, mon amour became one of the most celebrated films of all time. The story of a love affair between a French actress and a Japanese architect in Tokyo during World War II, the film juxtaposed a world of private feelings with the overwhelming tragedy of war.

Duras went on to make numerous short films of her own in the 1960s and 1970s, often working on a shoestring budget and using her own Paris apartment as a set. Although she was less well known as a director than other prominent French experimentalists of the day, her work attracted the attention of young film industry figures such as actor Gérard Depardieu, who played a truck driver in the film Le camion (The Truck). The film consisted of a single one-hour-and-twenty-minute conversation between a truck driver and a female hitchhiker, played by Duras herself. Her 1975 film India Song was a more elaborate production that won the grand prize of France's Cinema Academy.

The author of a number of plays between 1960 and the late 1980s, Duras continued to write novels at a steady pace. Many of them dealt with themes of love and passion. Her greatest success came at age 70 with L'amant (The Lover, 1984), which won France's top literary honor, the Goncourt Prize. In 1992 the novel was filmed by director Jean-Jacques Annaud; the film, at first condemned but later embraced by Duras, became internationally successful.

Returned to Scenes from Youth

L'amant succeeded in tying together many of the themes and techniques Duras had explored over her long career. Minimalistically told like many of her later novels, the novel took Duras' youthful affair with her Asian lover for its subject matter. Viewed in one way, it was part of an effort at self-revelation that Duras made as she looked back on her life; biographies of Duras had begun to appear, and she revealed more and more of her secrets to literary scholars. Sometimes, however, her revelations created more mysteries than they clarified. Another autobiographical work, La douleur (1985, translated as The War: A Memoir), traced Duras' experiences during World War II. Literary scholars have debated the levels of truth versus fiction in both books.

A heavy consumer of alcohol for much of her life, Duras suffered from health problems in the 1980s and 1990s. She underwent a detox program in 1982 that only worsened her health. In 1988 she fell into a coma for five months and was not expected to live. But she recovered and resumed writing, putting her own experiences, now those associated with impending death, front and center as before. Her novel La pluie d'été was published in 1990, and in 1992, partly as a reaction against what she saw as errors on Annaud's film of L'amant, she wrote a new version of the tale, L'amant de la chine du nord (The Lover from Northern China). Her last book, published in English as No More, was a series of diary entries tersely chronicling her physical decay. She continued to write until shortly before her death on March 3, 1996, in Paris.

That event did not dent Duras' popularity as a writer; it was once estimated that more undergraduate theses in American colleges and universities had been written about Duras than about any other figure, and new studies of her work continued to appear at a rapid pace. Even the twilight of her life held fascinating for the public; the 2003 film Cet amour-là dealt with her affair with the young philosophy student and obsessive fan, Yann Lemmée (renamed Yann Andrea by Duras), which began in 1980 and lasted until Duras' death. "I did not deprive my heart of anything," she wrote in a fable that was read (according to the Guardian) at her funeral. "But the sun rises, and sets, and goes back to the place where it is to rise again. I have understood that all is vanity and vanity for vanity's sake. It is food to the wind."

Books

Adler, Laure, Marguerite Duras: A Life, translated by Anne-Marie Glasheen, University of Chicago, 2000.

Ricouart, Janine, editor, Marguerite Duras Lives On, University Press of America, 1998.

Women Filmmakers & Their Films, St. James, 1998.

Periodicals

Capital Times (Madison, WI), March 8, 1996.

Financial Times, March 9, 1996.

Guardian (London, England), March 4, 1996; March 8, 1996; July 28, 1998; October 17, 1998.

Independent (London, England), March 4, 1996.

New York Observer, April 14, 2003.

New York Times, March 4, 1996.

Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K.), March 9, 1996.

Times (London, England), March 4, 1996.

Washington Post, March 4, 1996.

Online

"Marguerite Duras," Books and Writers, http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/duras.htm. (November 10, 2005).

"Marguerite Duras: The Unspeakable, She Said …," The Written Word, http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/label_france/ENGLISH/LETTRES/DURAS/duras.html (November 10, 2005).

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Duras, Marguerite

Marguerite Duras (märgərēt´ düräs´), 1914–96, French author, b. Gia Dinh, Indochina (now Vietnam). Usually grouped with the exponents of the nouveau roman [new novel] (see French literature), Duras abandoned many of the conventions of the novel form. Her novels usually mix themes of eroticism and death, often treating existential moments in people's lives. Avoiding the use of descriptive passages, she had her characters reveal themselves through what they say—and do not say. Duras's experience as a film writer—she wrote the screenplay for Alain Resnais's Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), among many others—and as a director significantly influenced her tersely simple narrative technique. She also wrote a number of plays.

Duras wrote more than 70 novels, many of which have been made into films and most of which deal unsentimentally with love, despair, and sexual passion. They include Un Barrage contre le Pacifique (1950; tr. The Sea Wall, 1952), Le Marin de Gibraltar (1952; tr. The Sailor from Gibraltar, 1966), Moderato cantabile (1958; tr. 1960), 10:30 du soir en été (1960; tr. 10:30 on a Summer Night, 1965), Détruire, dit-elle (1969; tr. Destroy, She Said, 1970), and Emily L. (1987; tr. 1989). Her mysterious and sensual semiautobiographical novel L'Amant (1984; tr. The Lover, 1985), an international best seller, was her first work of fiction to reach a large popular audience. It was followed by another partial roman à clef that retells the same story, L'Amant de la Chine du Nord (1991; tr. The North Chinese Lover, 1992).

See biography by L. Adler (2000).

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Duras, Marguérite

Duras, Marguérite (1914–96) French novelist and playwright, b. Indochina. Novels include The Sea Wall (1950), The Sailor from Gibraltar (1952), Destroy, She Said (1969), The Lover (1984) and Summer Rain (1990). Her best-known screenplay is Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959).

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