The Lover (1984 novel)
First edition cover of L'amant
|Publisher||Editions de Minuit|
|Published in English||1986|
|Dewey Decimal||843/.912 19|
|LC Classification||PQ2607.U8245 A626 1984|
The Lover (French: L'Amant) is an autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras, published in 1984 by Les Éditions de Minuit. It has been translated to 43 languages and was awarded the 1984 Prix Goncourt. It was adapted to film in 1992 as The Lover.
Set against the backdrop of French colonial Vietnam, The Lover reveals the intimacies and intricacies of a clandestine romance between a pubescent girl from a financially strapped French family and an older, wealthy Chinese man.
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 town of Sa Đéc, to her boarding school in Saigon. She attracts the attention of a 27-year-old son of a Chinese business magnate, a young man of wealth and heir to a 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.
There are two published versions of The Lover: one written in the form of an autobiography, without any superimposed temporal structures, as the young girl narrates in first-person; the other, called The North China Lover and released in conjunction with the film version of the work, is in film script form, in the third person, with written dialogue and without internal monologue. This second version also contains more humor than the original.
Duras never revealed the real name of her Chinese lover, but later admitted to being the girl when the film The Lover was being made. The last thing she heard of him was that he immigrated to the United States after the Chinese Revolution. He had already died when the movie was produced.
Duras was 15 at the time of her love affair, which is also the age of the heroine in the novel.
In the movie the heroine tells her lover that she is 17. He tells her that he is 32.
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