Marguerite Duras


Marguerite Duras(1915-1996), French novelist, playwright, and film screenplay writer, was born in Saigon, Indochina, now known as Vietnam. In the early 1930's she moved to Paris and began her career as one of the most dramatic and influential writers of modern literature. Her first important novel, The Sea Wall (1950), describes an impoverished French family in Indochina. Duras used her novels, plays, and films to display an autobiography of her own life and feelings towards love, hate, sadness, and death. Marguerite's family consisted of her Father, Mother, and two older brothers. Her father, Henri Donnadieu taught mathematics and because of health reasons, was repatriated to France while her mother, born on a farm in Picardy, remained in Indochina with Marguerite and her two brothers. Marguerite's mother or the image of her mother is portrayed as the key figure in her life and work. As years passed Marguerite's mother was widowed and set out with determination to work so that her children could receive an education. It was the mirroring of the strength and determination of her mother that enabled Duras to achieve great success with her writing. When she arrived in France at the age of 18 she already had many accomplishments such as a law degree and a post at the Ministry of Colonies. Throughout her extraordinary and no barred life Marguerite proved her unlimited writing talent through her some 40 novels and dozens of plays and scripts. One of her most famous novels, The Lover, was written in 1984.

*Principal Works*

1. Les Impudents
2. Moderato Cantabile (1958)
3. The Lover (1984)
4. The North China Lover
5. The Sea Wall (1950)
6. The Ravishing of Lol Stein (1964)
7. Afternoon of Monsieur Andesmas (1962)
8. The Malady of Death (1983)
9. La Vie Tranquille (1944)
10. The Vice Council (1966)

*Critical Resources*

1. Interview
* Duras's life story has become theater. She once told an interviewer from Le Nouvel Observateur "On joue mes interviews maintenant" (14-20 novembre 1986).
The "Marguerite Duras" identity is established in her fictions as well as in public appearances; life and text play with and against one another.

2. Time Magazine (March 19, 1996)
* Marguerite Duras, author of 35 novels, she frequently used the land of her birth, colonial French Indochina, for expressive portraits of the redemptive and destructive power of love. Her most popular was 1984's L'Amant (The Lover), an autobiographical novel that depicts the social and sexual tensions between a poor French 15-year-old and her wealthy Asian lover. In film, her biggest success was the screenplay for Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1960).

3. Mairead Hanrahan article
* Marguerite Duras was influenced by the works of 19th century poet Arthur Rimbaud. In her work 'Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein,' Duras created a male narrator whose voice was in the first person. This marked a striking digression for a female author, and it also emphasizes the distinctions between the fictitious male narrator and the novel's female protagonist. Both Duras and Rimbaud tackled gender relations and sexuality in their writings. However they do this in different manners.

4. The Modern Language Review, July 1998
* "C'est curieux un mort': Duras on homosexuality," is an article by Martin Crowley. The role of homosexuality in the writings of Marguerite Duras is explored, with reference to La Maladie de la mort and Les Yeux bleus cheveux noirs. The tensions between homosexuality and heterosexuality in the two works are discussed, beginning with Duras's comments on homosexuality made in interviews between the 1970s and 1990s and ending with an examination of the ambiguity of her position.

5. Theatre Journal October 1995
* "Marguerite Duras: Marxism, feminism, writing" by Jane Winston. The article focuses on the feminine perspective in Duras. Her deeply imbedded Marxist politics informed her works, which had been subjected to class- and gender-biased criticisms. A critical examination of 'Eden cinema,' which is a stage adaptation of her novel, 'The Seawall,' shows the complex and rich signification of her text that presents not just the woman oppressed but a whole culture as well.

"I am worn out with desire" The Lover

Favorite links

Duras Home page


Duras and her works

Duras related links
This site is a list of other related sites

Email me at: