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Marguerite Duras (1914 - 1996)

Lifespan: 1914 - 1996

Related: 1900s literature - nouveau roman - Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) - nouvelle vague cinema - experimental literature - French literature


Marguerite Donnadieu (April 4, 1914 – March 3, 1996), better known as Marguerite Duras, was a French writer and film director.

She was born in Saigon, French Indochina (now Vietnam), and went to France, her parents' native country, to study law, but became a writer instead. She changed her name in 1943 for Duras, the name of a village in the Lot-et-Garonne département, where her father's house was located.

She is the author of a great many novels, plays, films and short narratives, including her best-selling, ostensibly autobiographical work L'Amant (1984), translated into English as The Lover. Following the making of a film of the same name(s) (1992, L'Amant, The Lover) based on her work, Duras then published a slightly different work, L'Amant de la Chine du Nord.

Other major works include Moderato Cantabile, also made into a film of the same name, Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein, and her film India Song. She was also the screenwriter of the 1959 French film Hiroshima mon amour, which was directed by Alain Resnais.

Duras's early novels were fairly conventional in form (their 'romanticism' was criticised by fellow writer Raymond Queneau); however, with Moderato Cantabile she became more experimental, paring down her texts to give ever-increasing importance to what was not said. She was associated with the Nouveau roman French literary movement. Her films are also experimental in form, most eschewing synch sound, using voice over to allude to, rather than tell, a story over images whose relation to what is said may be more-or-less tangential.

She died at 81 from throat cancer and is interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse.

In 1997 the popular rock band 'the Weakerthans' took their name from a line of the film adaptation of The Lover: "Go ahead, I'm weaker than you can possibly imagine." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marguerite Duras [Sept 2006]

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