|This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (November 2014)|
4 April 1914|
Saigon, Cochinchina, French Indochina (now Vietnam)
|Died||3 March 1996
|Occupation||Novelist, playwright, filmmaker|
|Genre||Novel, drama, film making|
Marguerite Donnadieu, known as Marguerite Duras (French: [maʁ.ɡə.ʁit dy.ʁas]; 4 April 1914 – 3 March 1996), was a French novelist, playwright, scriptwriter, essayist and experimental filmmaker. She is best known for writing the 1959 film Hiroshima mon amour, which earned her a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards.
Duras was born in Gia-Dinh (a former name for Saigon), Cochinchina, French Indochina (now Vietnam), after her parents responded to a campaign by the French government encouraging French people to settle in the colony.
Marguerite's father fell ill soon after their arrival, and returned to France, where he died. After his death, her mother, a teacher, remained in Indochina with her three children. The family lived in relative poverty after her mother made a bad investment in an isolated property and area of farmland in Cambodia. The difficult life that the family experienced during this period was highly influential on Marguerite's later work. An affair between the teenaged Marguerite and Huynh Thuy Le, the son of a rich Sa Dec merchant, was to be treated several times (described in quite contrasting ways) in her subsequent memoirs and fiction. She also reported being beaten by both her mother and her older brother during this period.
At 17, Marguerite went to France, her parents' native country, where she began studying for a degree in mathematics. This she soon abandoned to concentrate on political science, and then law. After completing her studies, she became an active member of the PCF (the French Communist Party). In the late 1930s she worked for the French government office representing the colony of Indochina. During the war, from 1942 to 1944, she worked for the Vichy government in an office that allocated paper quotas to publishers (in the process operating a de facto book censorship system), but she was also a member of the French Resistance. Her first husband, Robert Antelme, was deported to Buchenwald in 1944 for his involvement in the Resistance, and barely survived the experience (weighing on his release, according to Marguerite, just 38 kg). She nursed him back to health, but they divorced once he recovered his health.
Duras was the author of many novels, plays, films, interviews, essays and short fiction, including her best-selling, highly fictionalized autobiographical work L'Amant (1984), translated into English as The Lover, which describes her youthful affair with a Chinese man. This text won the Goncourt prize in 1984. The story of her adolescence also appears in three other forms: The Sea Wall, Eden Cinema and The North China Lover. A film version of The Lover, produced by Claude Berri and directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, was released to great success in 1992. The Sea Wall was first adapted into the 1958 film This Angry Age by René Clément, and again in 2008 by Cambodian director Rithy Panh as The Sea Wall.
Other major works include Moderato Cantabile, also made into a film of the same name, Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein, and her play India Song, which Duras herself later directed as a film, also titled India Song (1975). 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, although she did not belong definitively to any group. Many of her works, such as Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein (1964) and L'Homme assis dans le couloir (1980) deal with human sexuality. Her films are also experimental in form; most eschew synchronized sound, using voice over to allude to, rather than tell, a story; spoken text is juxtaposed with images whose relation to what is said may be more-or-less indirect.
Despite her success as a writer, Duras's adult life was also marked by personal challenges, including a recurring struggle with alcoholism. Duras died of throat cancer in Paris, aged 81. Her funeral, held in the packed church of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, was highlighted with several musical recordings including a piano version of India Song. She is buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse.
She was noted for her command of dialogue.
In 1983 she was awarded the Grand Prix du Théâtre de l’Académie Française.
- Les Impudents, Plon, 1943
- La Vie tranquille, Gallimard, 1944.
- Un barrage contre le Pacifique, Gallimard, 1950
- translated by Herma Briffault as The Sea Wall, 1952
- Le Marin de Gibraltar, Gallimard, 1952
- translated by Barbara Bray as The Sailor from Gibraltar, 1966
- Les petits chevaux de Tarquinia, Gallimard, 1953
- translated by Peter DuBerg as The Little Horses of Tarquinia, 1960
- Des journées entières dans les arbres, "Le Boa", "Madame Dodin", "Les Chantiers", Gallimard, 1954
- translated by Anita Barrows as Whole Days in the Trees, 1984
- Le Square, Gallimard, 1955 (tr. The Square, 1959)
- Moderato Cantabile, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1958
- translated by Richard Seaver as Moderato Cantabile, 1977
- Les Viaducs de la Seine et Oise, Gallimard, 1959.
- Dix heures et demie du soir en été, Paris, 1960
- translated by Anne Borchardt as Ten-Thirty on a Summer Night, London, 1961
- Hiroshima mon amour, Gallimard, 1960
- translated by Barbara Wright & Richard Seaver as Hiroshima mon amour, 1961
- "Les deux ghettos," in: France-Observateur, 9 November 1961, p. 8–10
- L'après-midi de M. Andesmas, Gallimard, 1960
- translated by Anne Borchardt and Barbara Bray as The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas, 1964
- Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein, Gallimard, 1964
- translated by Richard Seaver as The Ravishing of Lol Stein, 1964
- Théâtre I: les Eaux et Forêts-le Square-La Musica, Gallimard, 1965 (tr. The Rivers and the Forests, 1964; The Square; La Musica, 1965)
- Le Vice-Consul, Gallimard, 1965
- translated by Eileen Ellenborgener as The Vice-Consul, 1968
- L'Amante Anglaise (fr), Gallimard, 1967
- translated by Barbara Bray as L'Amante Anglaise, 1968
- Théâtre II: Suzanna Andler-Des journées entières dans les arbres-Yes, peut-être-Le Shaga-Un homme est venu me voir, Gallimard, 1968.
- Détruire, dit-elle, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1969
- translated by Barbara Bray as Destroy, She Said
- Abahn Sabana David, Gallimard, 1970.
- L'Amour, Gallimard, 1971
- translated by Kazim Ali and Libby Murphy as L'Amour
- Ah! Ernesto, Hatlin Quist, 1971.
- India Song, Gallimard, 1973
- translated by Barbara Bray as India Song, 1976
- Nathalie Granger, suivi de "La Femme du Gange", Gallimard, 1973.
- Le Camion, suivi de "Entretien avec Michelle Porte", Les Éditions de Minuit, 1977.
- L'Eden Cinéma, Mercure de France, 1977
- translated by Barbara Bray as Eden Cinema, 1992
- Le Navire Night, suivi de Cesarée, les Mains négatives, Aurélia Steiner, Mercure de France, 1979.
- translated by Susan Dwyer as The Ship "Night"
- Vera Baxter ou les Plages de l'Atlantique, Albatros, 1980.
- L'Homme assis dans le couloir, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1980
- translated by Barbara Bray as The Man Sitting in the Corridor, 1991
- L'Été 80, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1980.
- Les Yeux verts, Cahiers du cinéma, n.312–313, June 1980 and a new edition, 1987
- translated by Carol Barko as Green Eyes, 1990
- Agatha, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1981 (tr. Agatha)
- Outside, Albin Michel, 1981
- translated by Arthur Goldhammer as Outside, 1986
- L'Homme atlantique, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1982
- translated by Alberto Manguel as The Atlantic Man, 1993
- Savannah Bay, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1982, 2ème edition augmentée, 1983 (tr. Savannah Bay, 1992)
- La Maladie de la mort, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1982
- translated by Barbara Bray as The Malady of Death, 1986
- Théâtre III: -La Bête dans la jungle, d'après H. James, adaptation de J. Lord et M. Duras, -Les Papiers d'Aspern, d'après H. James, adaptation de M. Duras et R. Antelme, -La Danse de mort, d'après A. Strindberg, adaptation de M. Duras, Gallimard, 1984.
- L'Amant, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1984. Awarded the 1984 Prix Goncourt
- translated by Barbara Bray as The Lover
- La Douleur, POL, 1985
- translated by Barbara Bray as The War
- La Musica deuxième, Gallimard, 1985.
- Les Yeux bleus Cheveux noirs, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1986
- translated by Barbara Bray as Blue Eyes, Black Hair, 1987
- La Pute de la côte normande, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1986.
- translated by Alberto Manguel as The Slut of the Normandy Coast, 1993
- La Vie matérielle, POL, 1987
- translated by Barbara Bray as Practicalities, 1990
- Emily L., Les Éditions de Minuit, 1987
- translated by Barbara Bray as Emily L.
- La Pluie d'été, POL, 1990
- translated by Barbara Bray as Summer Rain
- L'Amant de la Chine du Nord, Gallimard, 1991
- translated by Leigh Hafrey as The North China Lover, 1992
- Yann Andréa Steiner, Gallimard, 1992
- translated by Barbara Bray as Yann Andrea Steiner, 1993
- Agatha, Savannah Bay, The Post-Apollo Press, 1992 (tr. Howard Limoli)
- Écrire, Gallimard, 1993
- translated by Mark Polizzotti as Writing, 2011
- C'est tout, POL, 1995
- translated by Richard Howard as No More, 2000
Filmography as director
- Les Enfants (1984)
- Il Dialogo di Roma (1982)
- L'Homme atlantique (1981)
- Agatha et les lectures illimitées (1981)
- Aurelia Steiner (1979)
- Aurélia Steiner (1979)
- Le Navire Night (1979)
- Césarée (1978)
- Les Mains négatives (1978)
- Baxter, Vera Baxter (1977)
- Le Camion (1977)
- Des journées entières dans les arbres (1976)
- Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert (1976)
- India Song (1975)
- La Femme du Gange (1974)
- Nathalie Granger (1972)
- Jaune le soleil (1972)
- Détruire, dit-elle (1969)
- La Musica (1967)
- Crowley, Martin (2000). Duras, Writing, and the Ethical. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198160135. ISBN 9780198160137.
- Adler, Laure. (1998), Marguerite Duras: A Life, Trans. Anne-Marie Glasheen, Orion Books; London.
- Glassman, Deborah N. (1991). Marguerite Duras: Fascinating Vision and Narrative Cure. Rutherford London: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press Associated University Presses. ISBN 0838633374. ISBN 9780838633373,
- Harvey, Robert; Alazet, Bernard; Volat, Hélène (2009). Les Écrits de Marguerite Duras. Bibliographie des oeuvres et de la critique, 1940–2006. Paris: IMEC. p. 530.
- Hill, Leslie (10 July 1993). Marguerite Duras: Apocalyptic Desires. London, New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415050480. ISBN 978-0415050487.
- Schuster, Marilyn R. (1993). Marguerite Duras Revisited. New York: Twayne. ISBN 0805782982. ISBN 9780805782981.
- Vircondelet, Alain (1994). Duras: A Biography. Normal, Illinois: Dalkey Archive Press. ISBN 1564780651. ISBN 9781564780652.
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