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The Lover by Marguerite Duras
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The Lover (1984)

by Marguerite Duras

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,3311151,632 (3.69)1 / 117
  1. 00
    The North China Lover by Marguerite Duras (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: dieselbe Geschichte noch einmal erzählt
  2. 00
    Les Belles Images by Simone de Beauvoir (Cecilturtle)
    Cecilturtle: une éducation semblable bien que les choix soient différents
  3. 00
    The Vice Consul by Marguerite Duras (Cecrow)
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English (95)  French (7)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (113)
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)

Best of 1984 Challenge.....(which I may or may not finish)

I'm not rating this, because I really don't care one way or the other about it.

Fifteen years old, crossing the river on a ferry, in a worn sleeveless silk dress, gold lame sandals on her feet, an flat man's fedora on her head.....she meets a Chinese man 12 years her senior in a black limousine. The go to a room in town and they become lovers.

Her life is crap, her mother head mistress, her father dead, her younger brother just there, & her older brother afraid of her, yet abusive.....

There is no apparent sense of time, just bits of the story crossing its own time worn path.

Even when there are tears, anger, loss there is no sadness, no feelings, no emotions...... It's all as if written in dream time. Not even the so called "erotic" has feelings in this book..... Lyrical yet empty. ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jan 18, 2016 |
The story focuses on a 15 year old girl growing up in Indochina in the 1930's. The girl's father has returned to the family home in France where he will soon die of an unnamed disease leaving the girl and her two older brothers to live with their mother, the headmistress of a local girls school. Mother suffers from deep depressions and bouts of euphoria and does not provide an emotionally or finacially stable home for her three children. The older son is her obvious favorite and every concession is made to ensure he has a bright future even to the detriment of the other 2 children. The daughter catches the eye of a young (mid-20's) Chinese businessman and they begin an affair that will last for a year and a half despite the fact that the young man's wealthy family refuses to allow him to marry the young white woman. The girl's mother, however, looks the other way since her daughter's lover provides some money and food for the family. Once the affair ends the girl and her family return to France where she becomes the writer she always dreamed of being.

Although this book is tagged 'erotica' I did not find one single thing erotic about it at all. I actually find it distasteful that a mother would allow a 15 year old to become a mistress just so she could have an easier life for herself and her precious son. Apparently I am in the minority as most of the reviews on Amazon were 5 stars just raving about the depth of the beautifully written novel. I agree that the author writes with pretty words and lyrical phrases (unfortunately for me a lot of them were above my head) but on the whole I did not like this one.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
★★★★

This is a semi autobiographical account of how a young French girl in Indochina has an affair with an older rich Chinese man, it examines the motive for the affair was it for money, escape or for love.

Told it short, sparse, to the point language it never the less manages to capture the emotions of the narrator and to draw you into the story.
( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
I thought the reason I didn't enjoy this might be due to a bad translation... but as I have just had a discussion about it with a French colleague, I've realised that actually the translation was quite good, I just didn't enjoy it.

A disjointed set of memories recalling the childhood of a French girl in Saigon and how she became lovers with a Chinese millionaire. But this is equally a story of a possessive and dysfunctional family, the social norms of the time and life in the French colonies. I found it jumped around too much without focusing anywhere for long enough to actually give a good idea of what it was about. Confusing and unappealing for me, although there were some good images and I did have a strong picture of what it was like. ( )
  sashinka | Jan 14, 2016 |
The Lover
by Marguerite Duras
translated by Barbara Bray
HarperPerennial, 1992
ISBN 0-06-097521-0 (paperback), 117 p.

Review date: October 2015

I've been on a French novella mini-kick lately: first Carrère's Class Trip (1997) and then The Stranger (1942) by Camus. I went to the library recently to find some more novellas—not necessarily French ones, just some short works to read while working out on the treadmill—and by coincidence I happened across The Lover (1984) by Marguerite Duras. As was the case with Class Trip, I had heard of neither this book nor its author until happening upon it. Not too surprising, since modern French literature (even in translation) isn't something I'm all that familiar with, but I do tend to pay some attention to foreign films, and since it was adapted for the big screen in the early ’90s, I'd expect to have heard of it before now, at least in motion picture format. In any case, I've heard of it now, and can join the millions of others who have read it.

For those who are still unfamiliar with the tale, it's a semi-autobiographical novella of about 30,000 words, set in French colonial Vietnam of the late ’20s and early ’30s. The narrator is a 70-year-old woman, but the story she tells is of her younger self, when she was just 15. It's written in snippets, no chapters, just breaks between the brief sections of prose, in a stream-of-consciousness style, with the narrative often shifting back or forward months or years at a time, the setting moving back and forth between Vietnam and France, although the former accounts for the majority of the book's action. And strikingly, although it's mostly told in the first person, a dissociative third-person is sometimes used, so that the ‘I’ of the story becomes ‘the girl’.

Much has been made of the story's romantic relationship, that of the girl with her older lover, a Chinese businessman in his late twenties, and indeed the title of the book would seem to indicate that this relationship is the central focus of the plot. I suppose it provides something of a fulcrum, but to me there was much more going on around the girl and in her life that was so much more important and interesting. More than a love story, it's psychological fiction and family drama as well. In fact, it's the girl's thoughts and feelings about, and her interactions with, her outcast mother and her two brothers that really drove the narrative for me, as well as her own inner psychological workings. It actually seemed to me that the sections about her romantic relationship were there almost to draw attention away from the peripheral action, as if it had been the least of her troubles during her teenage years and that the loss of her virginity and the uncertainty of the relationship was the easiest series of events to confront in that period of her past. The story, to me, is really about what goes on at the periphery, the things left briefly mentioned and half-told.

I'm sure there's much more to be said about the plot, indeed about every facet of the book. And I'm sure much has been said by other people elsewhere, but instead of trying to sum up the richness of this brief work of art or analyze its depths, I'll just say that I recommend it to anyone who enjoys well written literature with understated drama, intense psychology, and, yes, even some erotic touches here and there (although perhaps not as much as some of the blurbs might lead one to believe).

——————————

Rating:

3½ stars: It was very good. Technical, conventional, and other errors are rare or nonexistent, and the work stands out among others of its kind. A 3½-star work is nearing excellence. I am likely to add it to my permanent collection and recommend it to others. This rating may be more subjective than others, as it relies to a slightly greater extent on my tastes in genre and style. Creative writing is more likely to receive 3½ stars than conventional nonfiction. Equivalent to an 'A–', or very good, grade. ( )
  tokidokizenzen | Oct 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (40 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marguerite Durasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bray, BarbaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kingston, Maxine HongIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prato Caruso, LeonellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
Pour Bruno Nuytten
First words
Un jour, j'étais âgée déjà, dans le hall d'un lieu public, un homme est venu vers moi.
One day, I was already old, in the entrance of a public place a man came up to me.
Quotations
I often think of the image only I can see now, and of which I've never spoken. It's always there, in the same silence, amazing. It's the only image of myself I like, the only one in which I recognize myself, in which I delight.
Very early in my life it was too late. It was already too late when I was eighteen. Between eighteen and twenty-five my face took off in a new direction. I grew old at eighteen
I acquired that drinker's face before I drank. Drink only confirmed it. The space for it existed in me.
I had the luck to have a mother desperate with a despair so unalloyed that sometimes even life's happiness, at its most poignant, couldn't quite make her forget it.
You always went home with the feeling of having experienced a sort of empty nightmare, of having spent a few hours as the guest of strangers with other guests who were strangers too, of having lived through a space of time without any consequences and without any cause, human or other.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the 1984 book L'Amant, not to be confused with the 1971 book L'Amour.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Set in the prewar Indochina of Dura’s childhood, The lover is the haunting tale of a relationship between two outcasts - an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover - during the waning days of the colonial period.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375700528, Paperback)

An international best-seller with more than one million copies in print and a winner of France's Prix Goncourt, The Lover has been acclaimed by critics all over the world since its first publication in 1984.

Set in the prewar Indochina of Marguerite Duras's childhood, this is the haunting tale of a tumultuous affair between an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover. In spare yet luminous prose, Duras evokes life on the margins of Saigon in the waning days of France's colonial empire, and its representation in the passionate relationship between two unforgettable outcasts.

Long unavailable in hardcover, this edition of The Lover includes a new introduction by Maxine Hong Kingston that looks back at Duras's world from an intriguing new perspective--that of a visitor to Vietnam today.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:13 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The story of an affair between a fifteen-year-old French girl and her Chinese lover, set in prewar Indochina.

» see all 2 descriptions

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