Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
Marguerite Donnadieu was born on April 4, 1914, in Gia Dinh, in what was then Indochina and is now Vietnam. Her parents, who were teachers, had moved to Vietnam from the north of France. Widowed while her children (two sons and a daughter) were still young, Marguerite’s mother tried to support the family by farming on land granted by the government. Unfortunately, the land was frequently flooded, and Marguerite’s mother tried against all odds to reclaim it. This futile battle, Marguerite’s difficult relationship with her feisty mother, whom she perceived as domineering, and Marguerite’s attachment to her brother, are collectively the starting point of The Eden Cinema. Adding a definite sensual dimension to her work, the exotic landscape in which she grew up, with its steamy, hot climate and its luxuriant vegetation, is usually the setting for her plays. At the lycée in Saigon, Marguerite studied both Vietnamese and French and after receiving her baccalauréat (high school diploma), she continued her education in Paris, initially studying mathematics and finally getting her licence (undergraduate degree) in law in 1935.
Marguerite Donnadieu was married to Rober Antelme, a member of the Communist Party to which she herself belonged. She later was divorced from him and met another fellow Communist, Dionys Mascolo, with whom she had a son. After leaving the Ministère des Colonies in 1941, she went to work for the...
(The entire section is 505 words.)
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Marguerite Duras was born Marguerite Donnadieu on April 4, 1914, in Gia Dinh, Indochina (now Vietnam), where her parents came to teach from northern France. Her father died when she was young, and her mother undertook the rearing of two sons and a daughter by farming a government land grant. Duras’s attachment to her older brother and her ambivalent feelings toward her feisty and domineering mother are sketched in many of the novels but most particularly in The Sea Wall. The exotic landscape of Indochina, where Duras attended the lycée and took her baccalauréat in Vietnamese and French, colors her fiction. She excels at evoking a steamy, although often suffocating, atmosphere in settings that are rich in sensual vegetation.
In 1931, Duras went to Paris to continue her education, earning a licence in law and political science in 1935. A secretary for the Colonial Ministry from 1935 to 1941, she married Robert Antelme, an active member of the Communist Party and author of L’Espèce humaine (1947). Her own membership in the party and her participation in the Resistance movement during World War II bespoke a strong sense of political commitment, which she later rejected. It was during the war that she began to work at Gallimard and to write fiction. Although her first manuscript, “La Famille Taneran,” was never published, she was encouraged by Raymond Queneau to continue writing. Divorced from Antelme,...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Marguerite Duras (dew-RAH) was born Marguerite Donnadieu on April 4, 1914, in Gia Dinh, near Saigon, French Indochina (now Vietnam), the youngest of three children. Her two brothers, Pierre and Paulo, shared much of the deprivation and adventure of her childhood. The family’s fortunes changed radically after the death of their father, Henri Donnadieu, a professor of mathematics, in 1918. After her father’s death, her mother, Marie LeGrand, kept the family in French Indochina, moving in 1924 to Sadeck and then to Vinhlong, where she taught at a school for Asian children. That same year she bought property on the Mekong River, hoping to run a profitable farm, but the land flooded after every planting season, wiping out all of the family’s work.
These childhood years in French Indochina contributed to themes and characters that recur in Duras’s works. The rain forests, for example, take on symbolic, terrifying, and seductive power in Détruire, dit-elle (1969; Destroy, She Said, 1970). As a child, Duras ran and played in the rain forests, hunting for birds and small game to bring back to her family to eat. Her freedom in the forest is consistently linked to the fear of the creatures in it as well as the necessity to return to the farm. The flooding of the farm apparently had a significant effect on Duras because floods...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Marguerite Duras, a highly acclaimed writer in various genres, put French Indochina on the map of modern world literature. Her understanding of the sensual, the corrupt, the futile, and the amoral is transmitted through her writings in a series of vivid images. These images raise the particular—a girl on a ferry or a flooded field, for example—toward the symbolic. Such images, often originating in Duras’s personal experience, may serve as metaphors for the larger historical and societal events that form the context and the backdrop to the lives of her characters.
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
For many years neglected by readers and critics outside France, Marguerite Duras (dew-rah) attained a position of preeminence among postwar French writers late in her life. The daughter of teachers, she was born Marguerite Donnadieu in French Indochina (now South Vietnam). She began her studies at the Lycée de Saigon in 1924; in 1931, she entered the Faculté de Droit and the École Libre des Sciences Politiques in Paris, where she obtained degrees in 1935. Her early novels attracted little attention, but she reached a world public by writing the screenplay for Alain Resnais’s filmHiroshima mon amour. Her fame increased with the publication and translations of later works, her conversations with Xavière Gauthier, and her recollections of the war years and the Resistance movement; her prizewinning novel The Lover established her reputation as one of the major French writers of the twentieth century.
Duras’s development as a writer may be viewed as a progression through three phases. Her early works reflect the strong influence of such American authors as Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck: Events are narrated clearly and consecutively, characters are introduced and developed conventionally, and dialogue develops the movement of the story. There is a certain flatness and matter-of-factness in the presentation of the...
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Duras was born Marguerite Donnadieu on April 14, 1914, in French Indochina, a region that is now part of South Vietnam. Her parents were schoolteachers in the French colonial service. When she was four years old, her father died, leaving the family in financial distress. Duras graduated from a high school in Saigon and, at the age of eighteen, moved to Paris, France, to attend college. She earned a degree in law from the Sorbonne. From 1935 to 1941, Duras worked as a secretary in the French Ministry of Colonies. With the advent of World War II, France was occupied by Nazi Germany, and Duras joined the French Resistance movement. Her husband, writer Robert Antelme, was arrested and sent to a concentration camp in Dachau. Antelme returned home in 1945, but Duras had developed a relationship with Dionys Mascolo in his absence. She soon divorced Antelme and eventually married Mascolo, with whom she had a son. Over the course of her life, Duras developed a reputation for her many passionate love affairs, her struggles with alcoholism, and her difficult personality.
In the post–World War II era, Duras established herself as a popular novelist. As her writing style developed, she became identified with the French nouveau roman (new novel), that emerged in the post-war period. In the 1950s, Duras became involved in the film industry as a screenwriter and director. Her most successful screenplay, Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959), was based on a...
(The entire section is 396 words.)