Marguerite Duras Analysis

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Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

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Marguerite Duras began her writing career as a journalist and novelist and later moved on to motion pictures and the theater. It is difficult to distinguish Duras’s dramatic output from the rest of her literary production. Characters and situations in her novels, films, and plays tend to reappear in later works, and her style remains constant throughout all genres. Duras’s novels are filled with dramatic dialogue, and the stage directions of her screenplays are usually longer than the spoken text. India Song: Texte-théâtre-film does not consist of three different treatments of the same theme, as its subtitle might suggest. It is one comprehensive text, to be treated differently by readers, performers, and directors.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Marguerite Duras had already published several novels when she first achieved an international audience with the scenario of director Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour (1959; Hiroshima mon amour: Text by Marguerite Duras for the Film by Alain Resnais, 1961). In 1984, she was awarded the coveted Prix Goncourt for her novel L’Amant (1984; The Lover, 1985).

The importance that Duras gave to the reader or spectator in her work, her search for “inner realism,” and her systematic use of ellipsis bring her close to writers such as Nathalie Sarraute, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Claude Simon, Robert Pinget, and Michel Butor. Unlike these writers, however, she never felt the need to define a literary theory of any kind. To Duras, any preestablished formula seemed an instrusion into the freedom of the reader or spectator, an attempt to control his or her response. In this respect, she came close to realizing Gustave Flaubert’s ideal of perfectly transparent prose. Duras also differed from the so-called New Novel/New Theater group in that she was politically committed to individual causes in which she believed and about which she was highly vocal. Here again, however, she did not fit under any label. Duras was expelled from the French Communist Party in 1950 and never again joined a political party. She did not like to be labeled a feminist either, although virtually all of her literary output addresses, in one way or another, the problem of feminine identity. Thus, Duras cannot be pinned to any literary or political school of thought. Instead, she developed her own original style and, deeply committed to the defense of human values, she became a controversial figure in France. Duras also attained recognition abroad, and many of her works have been translated into English. Within and beyond France, critical articles and doctoral dissertations are written on various aspects of her work. Her plays are performed throughout the world.

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to her novels (most of which were published by Gallimard, with the exception of Moderato Cantabile and Destroy, She Said, which were published by Minuit, the press favored by the New Novelists), Marguerite Duras (dew-RAH) published a collection of short stories, Des journées entières dans les arbres (1954; Days in the Trees, 1967), and two short texts, L’Homme assis dans le couloir (1980; The Man Sitting in the Corridor, 1991) and L’Homme atlantique (1982; The Atlantic Man, 1993). Duras was also known as a prolific playwright, and her plays were regularly performed on the French stage. In 1969, Duras turned to filmmaking as her principal activity, perhaps encouraged by the success of her scenario for director Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour (1959; Hiroshima mon amour: Text by Marguerite Duras for the Film by Alain Resnais, 1961). In 1961, she collaborated with Gérard Jarlot on the script for Une Aussi Longue Absence (English translation, 1966), directed by Henri Colpi, and in 1969, she wrote and directed her first film, Détruire, dit-elle, avowedly inspired by the May, 1968, leftist revolution. Her other films include Nathalie Granger (1972), La Femme du Gange (1973), Baxter, Véra Baxter (1976), Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert (1976), Des journées entières dans les arbres (1976), Le Camion

(The entire section is 1,400 words.)