The Ravishing of Lol Stein

by Marguerite Duras

Start Free Trial


Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

The plot of The Ravishing of Lol Stein focuses almost entirely on the passions of the central characters and on the narrator’s attempts to understand the history of the enigmatic Lol. Stripped of climax and denouement, the story elevates memory and sexual tension over physical action.

Lol Stein, a reserved young woman, is engaged to Michael Richardson, a well-to-do young man. At a ball, he abandons Lol for a mysterious older woman, named Anne-Marie Stretter, with whom he dances all night, and with whom he finally leaves. Lol’s friend Tatiana Karl tries to comfort her, but Lol is so shocked at this rejection that she faints and her mother has to come retrieve her. Michael later leaves for India with Anne-Marie, and Lol goes through a period of extreme depression. One day, while on a walk, she meets John Bedford, who is intrigued by her withdrawn behavior. He falls in love with her and proposes; she accepts and they move to Uxbridge.

After ten years of a relatively uneventful life, they move back to South Tahla. Lol spends most of her time setting up her house, much as she had at Uxbridge, but she begins to go out on long, meandering walks. The narrator says that he sometimes follows her on these walks, without her knowing it. While walking, Lol apparently reminisces about her tragic experience at the ball. One day she sees a pair of lovers pass and seems to recognize the woman. Later, she follows the man; he meets the woman, who turns out to be her old friend Tatiana, and the couple goes to a hotel (which Lol and Michael had frequented). Lol stays outside in a field, spying on the figures until after dark. Eventually, Lol decides to visit Tatiana, pretending not to have seen her earlier; at Tatiana’s house, she also meets Tatiana’s husband, Dr. Peter Breugner, and the man who is Tatiana’s lover, Jack Hold. At this point, the narrator reveals that he is Jack, and the reader realizes that all along the narrator has been aware of Lol.

Later, Jack and Lol declare their mutual desire, and Jack says that he will leave Tatiana. Lol wants him to keep meeting Tatiana, however, so that she can spy on the two of them as she had earlier. The attraction between Lol and Jack intensifies, but they do not consummate their love and Jack continues to meet Tatiana while Lol watches. Although he is still drawn to Tatiana, Jack begins to tire of her, and Tatiana suspects that Jack is in love with Lol, a suspicion that he manages to allay. Then one day Lol asks Jack to accompany her on a trip to Town Beach to relive the loss of her fiance. The journey there heightens their intimacy, and finally Lol and Jack visit the ballroom where the initial catastrophe occurred. Lol faces the past and overcomes her fear of the place. Realizing that it is too late to return to South Tahla, Lol and Jack decide to stay in Town Beach, and, in a hotel room, the couple finally make love. The next day, however, Jack has scheduled a rendezvous with Tatiana, and Lol insists that he keep the appointment. Tired from the journey, Lol falls asleep in the field outside the hotel.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access