The Lover

An international best-seller with more than one million copies in print and a winner of France 's Prix Goncourt, The Lover has been cclaimed by critics all over thi world since its first publication in 1984.

Set in the prewar Indochina of Marguerite Duras 's childhood, this is the chilling ale of a tumultuous affair between an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover. In spare yet luminous prose, Duras evokes life on the margins of Saigon in the waning year of France 's colonial empire, and its representation in the passionate relationship between two unforgettable outcasts.
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Published July 6th 2011 by Pantheon (first published September 1st 1984

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You ca almost read the snippets in any order ( like JG Ballard ’ s The Atrocity Exhibition, which I reviewed HERE) .Image: Scene on the ferry, from the 1992 film, which I ’ ve only seen ( Source.) The pages exude the heat and humidity of French Indochina ( now Vietnam) in 1929.

The crux of the tory is th relationship she had as a 15-year old with a 27-year old “ man from Cholon ” after an encounter on a ferry.

Red Flags “ He breathes her in, the child… It ’ s actuall like other bodies, it ’ s not finished… It launches itself wholly into pleasure as if it were grown up… I became his child. ” It seems unfair to compare this very personal piece to Lolita ( see my review HERE), but I think one must.

Although Duras' story takes place long before Nabokov 's, she wrote it long after, and would have known of it.

Like Lolita, the strange beauty of Duras' language lures one into a distasteful story of an abused child.This teenager is also a vulnerable, immature, tomboy- albeit not as knowing as Lolita is portrayed.

“ How can innocence be disgraced? ” So asks her mother, when her daughter ’ s relationship is challenged.Everyone ( the girl, man from Cholon, her family) acknowledges that she doesn ’ t- and won ’ t ever- love him, though he claims to love her.

Her family enjoy lavish meals and financial benefits, though won ’ t even talk to man himself.

in its first violence ”! Ambiguous MoralityDuras ’ interpretation of the relationship is cloudy and contradictory: • When writing of her most vulnerable times, she sometimes switches to third person, as if distancing her adult self from her younger self.

• She writes ( with hindsight) that she immediately realised her power over him, and that the choice was hers alone.• But she also rites that she ’ s “ where she has to e, placed here ”, which sounds like less of a choice.• Most unsettlingly, of losing her virginity to anothe man, she says- in the secon person: “ She doesn ’ t feel anything in particular, no hate, no repugnance either, so probably it ’ s already desire. ” Ambiguous Truth “ The story of my life does not exist. ” Duras provokes the reader on this point.

oth are doomed to discredit because of the sens of body they have, caressed by lovers, kissed by their lips, consigned to the infamy of a pleasure unto death… the mysterious death of lovers without love. ” ConclusionThis is a brilliant piece of writing, but ot at all what I expected.

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And he time comes, when we ’ ve to make peace with our past, to let go of moments we cherished dearly, or of those which brought torment endless, the love we lived or the one we denied emphatically, the people we admired foolishly and the ones we ’ d to abandon, things fall apart and what is left are the crumbled spikes we call memories.

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My ather had said, if I read it every day, I wil learn about the world around us, and his boy would become a man.

I ’ m sure I would have continued as a oy, unless I had met you.I had slept with many girls in Paris, and I bedded plenty more after you, before I married my wife, a virgin until our wedding night.

Everything I slept with narrowed it down to the one I would eventually marry.I looked up from the Post, some article on inflation, and I saw you taking a seat opposite me.

Something must have touched him, unless he did it out of a ense of duty to my wife, for he took a photo of us that day.He gave it to me when he retired 10 years ago.

It ’ s not that the photo reminds me of a time when I was a oy.

After all, it was you who made me th man, not reading the Post.Like my father before me, I am a man of duty.

I have done the right hing, and I will die a contented man, if contentment is what I am looking for.No, what that photo and that moment remind me of is my capacity for desire.

I ha even lonelier after I had met you, because of the obsessive love I had for you.You said, “ I ’ d rather you didn ’ t love me, but if you o, I ’ d like you to do as you usually do with women. ” I sked, “ Is that what you ant? ” You nodded.

He ould tell I felt differently about you, that I wasn ’ t disqualifying you, that I did to marry this white girl, even though you would never love me in return.He made his position very clear. “ I ill not let my son marry this little white whore from Sadec. ” I wante to obliterate his attitude from my min.

I didn ’ t know where the waters sprang from, but I certainly didn ’ t know where they were heading.My father did, and somehow he built a dam that would contain the flow, and one day the torrent just stopped.Loving you had made me th man, he new that, as I did, and although we disagreed wildly, I was reconciled to my future in the family business.As my father loosened his grip on the reins and handed them over to me, I expanded to two and then eventually five department stores, and then years later with such a solid foundation, I started investing in shopping centres in Australia, until my family became the largest private holder of retail real estate in the country.Like my father, I am not an egotistical man or a roud one.

A youngish fellow, he vowed to phone my banker and ask whether I had sufficient funds in my account to clear the cheque.

They have married well, and have given me four beautiful grandchildren.As I said, I have carried our photo in my wallet for many ears, ever since I learned of its existence.Any other man in my position would possibly say that they had everything that they had ever desired.For me, thi is true, except in one sense that I have attempted to overlook for fifty years.I once desired you, that skinny white French girl in the fedora.

I id only desire you once, but that one occasion has lasted fifty years.Now that I am about to die, or think I am, and my family will soon gather around me to say their farewells, I ust take a match to this photo and set it alight, like you once set me alight, and indeed, I can never forget, perhaps I also set you alight, if eve for as long.My favourite nurse just brought me an ashtray and a cigarette lighter.

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The Lover is more of a harrowing survival narrative than a romance, and Duras 's story of her adolescence is well worth reading.

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She ants people to notice her eyes, her ips, certainly something other than her hair.

” Hélène Logonelle ’ s body is heavy, innocent still, her skin ’ s as soft as that of certain fruits, you almost can ’ t grasp her, she ’ s almost illusory, it ’ s too much….I am worn out with desire for Hélène Logonelle.

It ’ s via Hélène Logonelle ’ s body, through it, that the ultimate pleasure would pass from him to me.

” He often weeps because he can ’ t get the strength to love beyond fear.

He is disguste with her, with her nubile body, but nows his father ill never let him keep her.

” She wasn ’ t somethin that she hadn ’ t loved him with a love she hadn ’ t seen because it had lost itself in the affair like water in sand and she rediscovered it only now, through this moment of music flung across the sea. ” This ook is based on he real life of Marguerite Donnadieu better known as Marguerite Duras.

She was born in Saigon and did have a wealthy, much lder, Chinese lover.

At ifteen, even when we sa we are in love, we can ’ t know whether it is real.

I love this picture of Marguerite Duras.

A reader is left with a precise picture of a oung oman who may have lost some of her innocence, but gains a self-confidence to break away from her meaningless life and swim for a new shore.

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And her dysfunctional family of European colonizers needed the money.Is “ The Lover ” the wealthy Chinese man of twenty-seven years of age from Cholen who adores the girl from the distance, concealed behind the tainted windows of his wife ’ s black limousine?

She kisses his fragility and ruins the rest of his life.At first I thought “ The Lover ” was she.

cultural distance between the local people and the colonizers in French Indochina become the backdrop of a love story that is condemned by history before it even started and the detached irony that drips from the narrator ’ s voice can ’ t hid the desolation that is eating her alive underneath a carefully studied, impassive poise. “ The Lover ” is a cascade of musical notes delivered in fluid movements, a whirlwind of words repeated like a mantra in breathless cadence and staccatto punctuation.

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Pen was put to paper when she was 70, it 's predominantly all about looking back on memories past, and I know it 's a painful read, painful in respects to nostalgia, as nostalgia forms the basis for story that has origins from her actual youth while living in French Indochina, age fifteen she fell in love with a rich Chinese man.

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jacobsohn, bought for my final school assignment, i earn how to fee about literature: characters and story line: young french girl, older chinese man falling into bed and clinical love without names in indochina.

if the write 's voice is going to be so removed, and the characters are n't going to feel anything particularly deep, why coul i be expected to have emotions?

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© Nicole Waggonner