Duras, Marguerite [key], 1914–96, French author, b. Gia Dinh, Indochina (now Vietnam). Usually grouped with the exponents of the nouveau roman [new novel] (see French literature), Duras abandoned many of the conventions of the novel form. Her novels usually mix themes of eroticism and death, often treating existential moments in people's lives. Avoiding the use of descriptive passages, she had her characters reveal themselves through what they say—and do not say. Duras's experience as a film writer—she wrote the screenplay for Alain Resnais's Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), among many others—and as a director significantly influenced her tersely simple narrative technique. She also wrote a number of plays.
Duras wrote more than 70 novels, many of which have been made into films and most of which deal unsentimentally with love, despair, and sexual passion. They include Un Barrage contre le Pacifique (1950; tr. The Sea Wall, 1952), Le Marin de Gibraltar (1952; tr. The Sailor from Gibraltar, 1966), Moderato cantabile (1958; tr. 1960), 10:30 du soir en été (1960; tr. 10:30 on a Summer Night, 1965), Le Vice-Consul (1965; tr. The Vice-Consul, 1968; film, India Song, 1975, dir. by Duras) Détruire, dit-elle (1969; tr. Destroy, She Said, 1970), and Emily L. (1987; tr. 1989). Her mysterious and sensual semiautobiographical novel L'Amant (1984; tr. The Lover, 1985), an international best seller, was her first work of fiction to reach a wide audience. Her wartime notebooks (tr. 2008) shed light on the autobiographical nature of The Lover. L'Amant de la Chine du Nord (1991; tr. The North Chinese Lover, 1992), another partial roman à clef, retells the same story.
See biography by L. Adler (2000).
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