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L'Amant by Marguerite Duras
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L'Amant (original 1984; edition 1984)

by Marguerite Duras

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,8811271,958 (3.69)1 / 138
Member:hnn
Title:L'Amant
Authors:Marguerite Duras
Info:Editions de Minuit (1984), Broché
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:fiction

Work details

The Lover by Marguerite Duras (Author) (1984)

  1. 00
    Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (SCPeterson)
    SCPeterson: From the nymphet's perspective
  2. 00
    The North China Lover by Marguerite Duras (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: dieselbe Geschichte noch einmal erzählt
  3. 00
    Les Belles Images by Simone de Beauvoir (Cecilturtle)
    Cecilturtle: une éducation semblable bien que les choix soient différents
  4. 00
    The Vice Consul by Marguerite Duras (Cecrow)
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English (105)  French (7)  Danish (3)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (126)
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
Increíble cómo una novela tan breve pueda transmitir tanto. Cada página está repleta de emoción cruda. No es solamente literatura erótica, es también una exploración del sufrimiento, de lo extranjero, del racismo, del amor y del poder, de la familia. La prosa de Duras es perfectamente sintética, sientes que no se deja nada en el tintero. Esta debe ser una de las novelas breves que más me deja impresionado. ( )
  LeoOrozco | Feb 26, 2019 |
My brothers gorge themselves without saying a word to him. They don't look at him either. They can't. They're incapable of it. If they could, if they could make the effort to see him, they'd be capable of studying, of observing the elementary rules of society.

There are a plethora of splendid reviews of The Lover by my GR friends. Read those. My own reactions were of a lower cut, more bruised and bottom shelf. I found the novel to be one of shame. Take the girl and her situation, colonials on the down and out. There is a great deal of local color but, the characters find themselves clinging to the short side of the stick. A great poet once said, "I pity the poor immigrant who wishes he would've stayed home." Their failure is malignant. It clings to their clothes and hazes their spoiled breath. I found the erotic to be negligible as well, a clingy despair in contrast to the angelic breasts of the protagonist's schoolmate. There's a wisdom in that, I suppose, however ephemeral. Duras succeeds in making the reader uncomfortable. The framing dynamic is between the older Chinese man and the fifteeen year old protagnist, wry in her man's hat and gold shoes. That relationship is outflanked by the Naturalisti images Duras weaves of Parisian garrets and the familial failures of dissipation.

My year of reading (mostly French) women continues in pace with a philosophy of the here and now. This was a detour of benefit.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
I was somewhat leery of opening this up, but it won the next-read lottery I threw when I was at a loss at what to start after finishing The Lost Language of Cranes, especially considering all my recent book-sale acquisitions. I knew it wouldn't take long to fill the shelf space I'd just discovered I had.

At the very least I figured this would be short, but I was sucked into The Lover immediately. Sentences and paragraphs almost could exist independently, but they make up a very real picture of a severed adolescence and the life still lived after all it was all over.

There is so little sentiment, despite the elegant language, its mostly a meandering narration of events and tangential outcomes. So much of my understanding of the book came from projections of my own on top of her situation, I'm sure of it, and not from the writing itself, but that might have been Duras' intention. I can see why the book might not be everybody's cup of tea, but the opening picture of the girl on the ferry, her choice and taste in clothing, innocence gone already from the memory of what hadn't happened yet...powerful stuff, and translated at that. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
I believe we all have memories like these – distant, random, mixed with pain, mixed with joy, a purposeful vagueness that is possibly self-induced. The thoughts are disclosed like word-puke, somewhat jumbled, non-linear, occasionally repetitive as though to reinforce the thought, colored with poetic prose, incomplete but the feeling is confirmed. This is what I felt reading Duras’ ‘The Lover’, an autobiographical novel of her youth in Saigon, particularly of her Lover.

It’s 1929. The fifteen-and-a-half-year-old girl is in Saigon with her mom, a headmistress in a local school who is a manic-depressive widow, an elder brother who is violent, cruel, and a thief, and an elder brother who is referred to as ‘younger brother’ who is kind and gentle but lives in fear of the elder brother’s fist. They are broke and are known as the ‘layabouts’. On a ferry, the girl meets a 30-something wealthy Chinese-Vietnamese that evolves into a year and a half affair. Though wealthy, he is controlled by his father who owns the family’s money and forbids any consideration of their union. The affair ends when she leaves Saigon returning to France.

The emotions are complex as I am sure it was for Duras then and at the time of writing (published in 1984) and for the reader. Needless to say, there is an ickiness with the underage relationship. But it’s more than that with a certain amount of reciprocation and desire on her part – he was her temporary (hours at a time) escape from her reality. She is not seeking pity, yet her words draw you into her darkness. There is an economy of words in her lack of details, but there is also an excess of words to provide a certain dreaminess, that poetic feeling. But as the reader, we know there is nothing pleasant here and that just adds to the ickiness. The narrator speaks of “I”, but also regularly speaks of the protagonist in the third person – the girl, the white girl, the girl with a man’s hat, as though these memories are detachments and denials, not of hers, not of her fifteen to seventeen-year-old self. She also wrote of her lust for her beautiful classmate, her best friend, lusting of her body, of her breasts. She recognizes her own sexual ‘perverseness’ but ignores her sexual confusion.

Perhaps the above is what makes this an award-winning book – that a nearly seventy-year old self can converge her complex teenage years into a haunting tale. Alas, it is not for me. Lastly, I was annoyed with the stereotype description of the Chinese male, his lack of masculinity, his softness, his weeping. Even though I know it’s her truth and likely the truth of that time, it’s still rather off-putting.

Some quotes:
On Beauty – and it’s one heck of a pickup line for a mature lady:
“One day, when I was already old, in the entrance of a public place a man came up to me. He introduced himself and said, ‘I’ve known you for years. Everyone says you were beautiful when you were young, but I want to tell you I think you’re more beautiful now than then. Rather than your face as a young woman, I prefer your face as it is now. Ravaged.”

On Desire:
“You didn’t have to attract desire. Either it was in the woman who aroused it or it didn’t exist. Either it was there at first glace or else it had never been. It was instant knowledge of sexual relationship or it was nothing. That too I knew before I experienced it.” ( )
  varwenea | Jun 2, 2018 |
There are flashes of poetic brilliance in ‘The Lover’, and it has a pretty strong ending, evoking sentimental memories of first love and time gone by. Unfortunately, the narrative style, which has Duras sifting through her memories and writing almost conversationally, is hit and miss. The story is of a fifteen year old French girl from a poor and dysfunctional family who has an affair with a Chinese man in his thirties in Saigon. At home, she has a bad relationship with her mother, her oldest brother is a profligate, and tragedy awaits her other brother. At boarding school, she fantasizes over another girl, and awaits being picked up by her lover’s limousine. Their physical relations give her pleasure, but there is a creepiness about them, beyond the fact that she’s underage. Overall, the book has a vagueness and a malaise to it, which was perhaps the intended effect, and honest to Duras’s true experience, as the book is autobiographical. It doesn’t always make for pleasant reading though.

Quotes:
On aging:
“One day, when I was already old, in the entrance of a public place a man came up to me. He introduced himself and said, ‘I’ve known you for years. Everyone says you were beautiful when you were young, but I want to tell you I think you’re more beautiful now than then. Rather than your face as a young woman, I prefer your face as it is now. Ravaged.”

On death:
“It was a mistake, and the momentary error filled the universe. The outrage was on the scale of God. My younger brother was immortal and they hadn’t noticed. Immortality had been concealed in my brother’s body while he was alive, and we hadn’t noticed that it dwelt there. Now my brother’s body was dead, and immortality with it. And the world went on without that visited body, and without its visitation. It was a complete mistake. And the error, the outrage, filled the whole universe.” ( )
2 vote gbill | May 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (39 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Duras, MargueriteAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bray, BarbaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kingston, Maxine HongIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prato Caruso, LeonellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rakusa, IlmaTranslatorsecondary 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 Duras' 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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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