Study Guide

Hiroshima mon amour

by Marguerite Duras

Hiroshima mon amour Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Several years after the nuclear attack on Hiroshima at the end of World War II, Duras presents the story of a French woman and a Japanese man engaged in a twenty-four-hour love affair in Hiroshima, mon amour. Duras was specifically chosen by French New Wave cinema director Alain Resnais to write a screenplay for a story of people affected by war. He had originally been asked to produce a documentary on the nuclear destruction in this city, but he was concerned he would produce another Holocaust piece similar to his film Nuit et brouillard (1955; Night and Fog). In response to his request, Duras worked with him to create a film that won major prizes at the Cannes and New York film festivals.

In a five-part saga of the couple’s physical and psychological intimacy, Duras creates a poignant story of love and loss with unnamed protagonists set against the reconstruction of Hiroshima in the 1950’s and the horrors of the 1945 attack. She brings added dimensions to the concepts of human interaction and communication by using a flashback technique (amplified by Resnais’s cinematography) to recount the woman’s affair as a teenager with a young German soldier in Vichy France and her subsequent ostracism and mental breakdown. The reality of life in postwar Japan, where cultures continue to clash, is juxtaposed against the romanticism of war-torn lovers, or any couple whose dreams are never destined to be fulfilled.

The...

(The entire section is 518 words.)

Hiroshima mon amour Bibliography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Adler, Laure. Marguerite Duras: A Life. Translated by Anne-Marie Glasheen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Cohen, Susan. Women and Discourse in the Fiction of Marguerite Duras: Love, Legends, Language. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993.

Crowley, Martin. Duras, Writing, and the Ethical: Making the Broken Whole. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Duras, Marguerite, and Xaviere Gauthier. Woman to Woman. Translated and with an afterword by Katherine A. Jensen. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987.

Glassman, Deborah. Marguerite Duras: Fascinating Vision and Narrative Cure. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1991.

Günther, Renate. Marguerite Duras. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 2002.

Hill, Leslie. Marguerite Duras: Apocalyptic Desires. London: Routledge, 1993.

Hofmann, Carol. Forgetting and Marguerite Duras. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 1993.

Schuster, Marilyn R. Marguerite Duras Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1993.

Selous, Trista. The Other Woman: Feminism and Femininity in the Work of Marguerite Duras. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988.

Winston, Jane Bradley. Postcolonial Duras: Cultural Memory in Postwar France. New York: Palgrave, 2001.