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The Lover-Duras
The Lover (French title: L'Amant) is an autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras, published in 1984 by Les Éditions de Minuit. It has been translated to 43 languages. It was awarded the 1984 Prix Goncourt. The Lover is also a 1992 movie based on this novel, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud and starring Jane March and Tony Leung Ka Fai. The cast also included Lisa Faulkner. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
Summary of the movie
Set against the backdrop of French colonial Vietnam, The Lover reveals the intimacies and intricacies of a clandestine romance between a pubescent girl (Jane March), from a financially strapped French family and an older, wealthy Chinese man (Tony Leung Ka-Fai). The story is narrated by Jeanne Moreau, portraying a writer looking back on her youth. In 1929, a 15 year old nameless girl is traveling by ferry across the Mekong Delta, returning from a holiday at her family home in the village of Sadec, to her boarding school in Saigon. She attracts the attention of a 32 year old son of a Chinese business magnate, a young man of wealth and heir to a tidy fortune. He strikes up a conversation with the girl; she accepts a ride back to town in his chauffeured limousine. Compelled by the circumstances of her upbringing, this girl, the daughter of a bankrupt, manic-depressive widow, is newly awakened to the impending and all-too-real task of making her way alone in the world. Thus, she becomes his lover, until he bows to the disapproval of his father and breaks off the affair. For her lover, there is no question of the depth and sincerity of his love, but it isn't until much later that the girl acknowledges to herself her true feelings. Duras' real-life Chinese lover was named Lee. The last she heard of him, he became a born again Christian and loved his family very much. He died and was buried in the same city in Vietnam where Duras first met him. Duras was only 15 at the time of her love affair, which is the age of the heroine in the novel.
Marguerite Donnadieu, better known as Marguerite Duras (French IPA: [maʀgə'ʀit dy'ʀas]) (April 4, 1914 – March 3, 1996) was a French writer and film director. She was born in Saigon, French Indochina (now Vietnam), her father died,her mother raised her with her two brother , they were very poor,the mother went practicly mad, she ( the mother) use to beat her children and even made marguerite a sort of prostitute.when she got 18 she went to France, her parents' native country, to study law, but became a writer instead. She changed her name in 1943 for Duras, the name of a village in the Lot-et-Garonne département, where her father's house was located. She is the author of a great many novels, plays, films and short narratives, including her best-selling, ostensibly autobiographical work L'Amant (1984), translated into English as The Lover. Following the making of a film of the same name(s) (1992, L'Amant, The Lover) based on her work, Duras then published a slightly different work, L'Amant de la Chine du Nord. Other major works include Moderato Cantabile, also made into a film of the same name, Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein, and her film India Song. She was also the screenwriter of the 1959 French film Hiroshima mon amour, which was directed by Alain Resnais. Duras's early novels were fairly conventional in form (their 'romanticism' was criticised by fellow writer Raymond Queneau); however, with Moderato Cantabile she became more experimental, paring down her texts to give ever-increasing importance to what was not said. She was associated with the Nouveau roman French literary movement. Her films are also experimental in form, most eschewing synch sound, using voice over to allude to, rather than tell, a story over images whose relation to what is said may be more-or-less tangential. She died at 81 from throat cancer and is interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse.
In The Lover and The North China Lover, Marguerite Duras writes about first love. Both novels are autobiographical, reflecting Duras’ adolescent experience in the then French colony of Vietnam where she was born in 1914. Her father died in 1918, leaving her mother, a teacher occupying one of the lowliest positions in the colonial hierarchy, to tend for Duras and her two brothers.
Both of these novels paint a poignant picture of Duras’ miserable upbringing. Her family was pitted into dire poverty after her mother was lured by the corrupt colonial administration into putting all her savings into the purchase of a worthless plot of land, subject to flooding by the sea. ‘It’s here we are at the heart of our common fate, the fact that all three of us are our mother’s children, the children of a candid creature murdered by society’, Duras writes, ‘We’re on the side of the society which has reduced her to despair. Because of what’s been done to our mother, so amiable, so trusting, we hate life, we hate ourselves’. Feelings of shame and anger towards one another and the outside world, enveloped in the fear of not having enough to survive on economically, thereafter tarnished the lives of Duras and her siblings.
It is within this context that ‘the girl’, i.e. Duras herself at age fifteen and a half, lounging on the ferry crossing the Mekong river, ‘wearing a man’s flat brimmed hat, a brownish-pink fedora with a black ribbon’, attracts the interest of the very elegant rich Chinese man inside the big black limousine. ‘... how important it was to be in my life, that event, the crossing of the river’, she relates. The sudden attraction is mutually shared and they instantly become lovers. ‘He’s a man who must make love a lot’, Duras reveals, ‘I’m very lucky, obviously, it’s as if it were his profession, as if unwittingly he knew exactly what to do and what to say’. Day in day out, his formidable chauffeur diligently comes to fetch her from the boarding school. But the love story that develops is much more complex than what one might guess to be an older man’s fetishistic attraction for a ‘little white girl’ or an ‘impoverished white lay-about’s scheme to exploit a Chinese millionaire. His bachelor’s quarters not only represent the locus of their boundless intimacy but also a safe haven which enables them to escape from their respective predicaments.
In The Lover, Duras’ Goncourt Prize (the Goncourt is the best-known French literary award) novel, one senses a strain of resentment in the author’s tone. It is as if she is telling the love story (her love story) without really wanting to, as though she felt compelled to write as an attempt to stop this experience from recurring in her mind. ‘I often think of the image only I can see now, and of which I’ve never spoken’, Duras relates at the outset, ‘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’. But she holds back from delving into the emotional breadth of their love story, choosing instead to depict it in a minimalist way: ‘Because of his ignorance she suddenly knows: she was attracted to him already on the ferry. She was attracted to him. It depended on her alone’.
In this novel, Duras tends to defy her emotions ‘it’s taken for granted I don’t love him, that I’m with him for the money, that I can’t love him’, she asserts, ‘it’s impossible, that he could take any sort of treatment from me and still go on living. This is because he’s a Chinese, because he’s not a white man’. When he takes her famished family out to dinner, for example, they all behave as though they have granted him a favour in accepting his invitation and treat him as though he were an inferior person, showing contempt for his envied wealth.
In The Lover, Duras resists from overtly acknowledging the strength of her great love. She abstains from revealing her emotions to her lover and sharing them with her readers. When, in tremendous desperation, he confronts her about the impossibility of their love as being against the marital arrangements set out for him by his family, she resists coming to grips with the grievous situation and simply says to him that ‘I agreed with his father. That I refused to stay with him. I didn’t give any reasons’. In this version ‘the girl’ tastes and lives out the fruits of first love while tacitly accepting its annihilation. But at the end, as she bids farewell to the big black limousine majestically ‘gazing’ at her (with the lover inside) on the steam boat departing for France, she realizes how much she has withheld: ‘She’d wept without letting anyone see her tears, because he was Chinese and one oughtn’t weep for that kind of lover’.
And it is with the realization that The Lover simply scraped the surface of things that Duras resolved to do justice to the true colours of their love story in The North China Lover. Upon discovery of his death, Duras explains in the prelude ‘I stopped the work I was doing. I wrote the story of the North China lover and the child: it wasn’t quite there in The Lover, I hadn’t given them enough time. This book is a novel containing many features of a screenplay, such as the meticulous visual descriptions of possible settings, since Duras hoped that it would ultimately be recaptured on film (which it was in 1992 by director Jean Jacques Annaud).
Still written in her typical disjointed style (for this is not an author for smooth transitions), in this version Duras handles their love story with great care and tenderness. Instead of objectifying her protagonists as ‘the girl’ and ‘the Chinese man’, Duras calls them ‘the child’ and ‘the North China lover’, identities that inevitably suggest the youth and innocence, the care and protectiveness enveloped in their intimacy. She comes to grips with her sorrow throughout the course of the novel and takes great pains to transcribe into words an ecstasy of love reduced to the harsh process of separation.
The North China Lover effusively articulates the emotional breadth of ‘the wild happiness of first love and the unrelieved, incurable pain of having lost it’. Realizing that ‘the two are merged in the pain of love’, the child ‘talks to him, she tells him she will always love him. She thinks she will love him all her life. It will be the same for him too. They have both ruined themselves forever’. It is no surprise, then, that at the moment of her departure, the child already mourns the sense of lifelong loss, ‘the strange tragedy of betraying the destiny they realize was theirs’. And when he does telephone her years later, this time she is brave enough to include her own reaction: ‘He heard her crying on the telephone. And then from further off, probably from her room — she hadn’t hung up — he could still hear her crying’.
Both of these novels are essential works of contemporary French literature; neither is necessarily ‘better’ or ‘more finished’ than the other and together they form a masterpiece. The first lays out the trajectory for the personal catharsis that awaits Marguerite Duras in the second when she tries to come to grips with the depth of her emotions.
Extract
“They smile at each other. Desire returns. They stop smiling at each other. He dresses her. And then looks at her again. Looks at her. She, she is already part Chinese. She knows that, the child. She looks at him and, for the first time, she discovers that another place has always been there between her and him. Since their first glance. Another place that protects them, a sheer, inviolable space. A sort of far-off, childhood — China — why not? — one that would protect them from all knowledge that might be foreign to it. And that is how she discovers that she, she protects him just as he himself does from events like adulthood, death, sadness at evening, the solitude of wealth, the solitude of misery that is born of love as much as desire.” (The North China Lover) p. 74.
Marguerite Duras 1914–-1996
(Born Marguerite Donnadieu) French short fiction writer, novelist, playwright, scriptwriter, and essayist. Considered one of France's most original and controversial contemporary writers, Duras explores the nature and difficulties of love and the existential conflicts of the individual alone and in relationships in her work. While her output of short fiction was small, it is this genre in which Duras made the greatest popular and critical impact, particularly with her two novellas, Moderato cantabile and L'amant (The Lover).
Biographical Information
Duras was born near Saigon, Vietnam, in 1914. After her father's death in 1918, her mother unwittingly bought a parcel of worthless land in Cambodia from the corrupt colonial government. Though this purchase led to the family's financial ruin, Duras's mother managed to send her to the prestigious Lycée de Saigon, where Duras studied Vietnamese and French. At the age of seventeen Duras left Cambodia for France, eventually studying law and political science at the University of Paris, Sorbonne. She worked as a secretary for the Ministry of Colonial Affairs until 1941. Duras married her first husband, Robert Antelme, an active member of the French Communist Party, in 1939. The couple divorced in 1946, after Antelme returned from the German concentration camp where he had been held for a year during World War II. She later married Dionys Mascolo, with whom she had a son, Jean. Duras, who also joined the Communist Party and was active in the Resistance Movement during Germany's occupation of France, began writing fiction shortly after the start of the war. She published her first novel, Les impudents, in 1943 and published more than seventy novels, plays, stories, novellas, screenplays, and adaptations during her lifetime. In 1984, while recovering from alcoholism in a treatment center, Duras wrote The Lover, for which she won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary award. In poor health as a result of her life-long addiction to alcohol, Duras died in Paris in 1996.
Major Works of Short Fiction
Duras's first work of short fiction, Des journées entières dans les arbres (Whole Days in the Trees and Other Stories), was published in 1954. Consisting of four stories, Des journées entières dans les arbres touches on several themes that Duras explored more fully in her later work—particularly the developing sexuality of young women—but in form and structure is more similar to her earlier works, which tend to be realistic and conventionally structured. Her novella Moderato cantabile represents the early stages of Duras's evolution into a proponent of the stylized narrative forms associated with the French nouveau roman, or anti-novel. Published in 1958, Moderato cantabile is considered among Duras's most accomplished works. The two-level structure of the story is introduced in the opening scene: while a boy's music lesson is taking place in a woman's apartment, there is a murder in the café downstairs. The story revolves around the boy's mother's growing obsession with the crime, and, as in many of Duras's works, the presence of crime sets the background for an exploration of human passion and the connection between love and death. Duras achieved international success with her novella The Lover, published in 1984. Considered more accessible than much of her fiction up to that point, The Lover draws on Duras's childhood in Indochina, focusing on her discovery of sexual passion through a love affair she experienced when she was fifteen years old as well as her turbulent relationship with her mother and two brothers. While The Lover is recognizably autobiographical, Duras concentrates on the recollection of events and their emotional significance rather than on the events themselves, thus creating a complex structure that conveys the illusion of simplicity.
Critical Reception
Critical commentary on Duras's short fiction tends to focus on The Lover and Moderato cantabile; the latter is generally considered the more remarkable work from a scholarly viewpoint. Critics have consistently commented on Duras's major themes of alienation and misunderstanding in the novella, finding her focus on her characters' compulsive fascination with the murder a dramatic and effective representation of the existential distance in human relationships. Concentrating as it does on young female sexuality, The Lover has received more critical coverage than most of Duras's other works. At the time of its publication, some commentators argued that it was the most effective synthesis of Duras's themes and minimalist style. Nonetheless, the novella's explicit and matter-of-fact depiction of its fifteen-year-old protagonist's affair with an older man generated much controversy.…...

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...gèle eel fay (dew) so-lay vawn eel nezh pluh zhell Il fait du brouillard broo-ee-yar Note: The du in "il fait (du) soleil" is optional. In Canada, du is often not said, but in France it is common. 16. Time / Le temps What time is it? It is... one o'clock two o'clock noon midnight one o'clock sharp four o'clock sharp twelve thirty six thirty a quarter to seven five twenty ten fifty in the morning/AM in the evening/PM Quelle heure est-il? Il est... une heure deux heures midi minuit une heure précise quatre heures précises midi (minuit) et demi six heures et demie cinq heures vingt onze heures moins dix du matin du soir kell urr ay-teel eel ay oon urr duh zurr mee-dee meen-wee twa zurr ay car oon urr pray-sees ka-truh urr pray-sees meee-dee (meen-wee) ay duh-mee see zurr ay duh-mee sank urr vahn ohnz urr mwan dees doo mah-tahn duh lah-pray mih-dee doo swahr a quarter after three trois heures et quart sept heures moins le quart set urr mwahn luh car in the afternoon/PM de l'après-midi Note: Official French time is expressed as military time (24 hour clock.) 17. Family and Animals / La famille et les animaux Family Relatives Grand-parents Parents Mom Stepmother/Mother-in-Law Dad la famille des parents les grands-parents les parents la mère, maman la belle-mère le père, papa fah-mee pahr-awn grawn-pahr-awn pahr-awn mehr, ma-ma bell-mehr pehr, pa-pa Stepfather/Father-in-Law Daughter Son Sister Half/Step Sister Sister-in-Law Brother Half/Step Brother......

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...Lloyd S., N10 Neslin, Scott A., N5 Netemeyer, Richard G., N12, N24 Neter, John W., N23 Neuendorf, Kimberly A., N9 Nevid, Jeffery S., N7 Newman, Jessica Clark, N19 Newman, Lynn M., N14 Ng, Ignace, N20 Nicholls, William L., II, N8 Nicholson, Jack, 739 Nicholson, Joe, N1 Nickel, Karen, N11 Nielsen, Christine, N20 Nielsen, Robert L., N20, N27 Nishisato, Shizuhiko, N12, N20, N22 Nitterhouse, Denise, N9 Noazin, S., N13 Noel, Noel M., N12 Noelle-Neumann, E., N15 Nonaka, Ikujiro, N7 Nonis, Sarah, N2 Norris, C. E., N12 Northington, Daniel, 394 Norusis, Marija, N21, N23 Notes, Greg R., N5 Nowell, Clifford, N11, N17 Nowlis, Stephen M., N5, N22 Nunes, Joseph C., N3 Nunnally, Jum C., N11 Nwachukwu, Saviour L. S., N2 Nyaw, Meee-Kau, N20 Nygaard, Arne, N3 Obrey, Thomas, N14 O’Brien, John, N15 O’Cass, Aron, N12 O’Connell, Vanessa, 402 Odekerken-Schroder, Gaby, N27 Ofir, Chezy, N11, N12, N24 Ogden, James R., N28 Oishi, Sabine., N19 Oksenberg, Lois, N8 Oldendick, Robert W., N14 Omura, G. S., N15 Ones, Deniz, N8 Opdyke, Jeff D., N16 Ostrom, Amy, N28 Ostrom, Charles W., N15 Ostrom, T. M., N13 Otellini, Paul, 23 Ottaviani, Joe, 180 Ouwersloot, Hans, N27 Ouyand, Ming, N15 Overall, John E., N21 Overbey, Vance, 40 Overmeyer, Cary, N7 Owens, Deborah, N19, N31 Page, Christine M., N23 Pak, Sukgoo, N17 Pallister, John, N19 Palmer, Jay, N29 Panigrahi, B., N3 Parasuraman, A., N2 Pardoe, Iain, N27 Parfitt, John H., N5 Park, C. Whan, N12,......

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