Marguerite Duras

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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Marguerite Donnadieu, better known as Marguerite Duras (French IPA: [maʁgə'ʁit dy'ʁas]) (April 4, 1914 – March 3, 1996) was a French writer and film director.

She was born in Saigon, French Indochina (now Vietnam). Her father having passed on, her mother raised her along with her two other brothers. They were very poor and the mother went practically mad, beating her children and turning Marguerite into a sort of prostitute. At 18, Marguerite went to France, her parents' native country, to study law. However, she eventually became a writer. In 1943 she changed her surname to "Duras" 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.


  • 1 Bibliography
  • 2 Filmography as director
  • 3 External links
  • 4 Further reading


  • Les Impudents, Plon, 1943
  • La Vie tranquille, Gallimard, 1944.
  • Un barrage contre le Pacifique, Gallimard, 1950 (tr. The Sea Wall, 1967)
  • Le Marin de Gibraltar, Galimard, 1952 (tr. The Sailor from Gibraltar, 1966)
  • Les petits chevaux de Tarquinia, Gallimard, 1953 (tr. The Little Horses of Tarquinia, 1960)
  • Des journées entières dans les arbres, "Le Boa", "Madame Dodin", "Les Chantiers", Gallimard, 1954 (tr. Whole Days in the Trees, 1984)
  • Le Square, Gallimard, 1955 (tr. The Square, 1959)
  • Moderato Cantabile, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1958 (tr. Moderato Cantabile, 1977)
  • Les Viaducs de la Seine et Oise, Gallimard, 1959.
  • Hiroshima mon amour, Gallimard, 1960 (tr. Hiroshima mon amour, 1961)
  • L'après-midi de M. Andesmas, Gallimard, 1960 (tr. The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas, 1964)
  • Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein, Gallimard, 1964, (tr. The Ravishing of Lol Stein, 1964)
  • Théâtre I : les Eaux et Forêts-le Square-La Musica, Gallimard, 1965 (tr. The Rivers and the Forests, 1964; The Square; La Musica, 1975)
  • Le Vice-Consul, Gallimard, 1965 (tr. The Vice-Consul, 1968)
  • L'Amante Anglaise, Gallimard, 1967 (tr. L'Amante Anglaise, 1968)
  • Théâtre II : Suzanna Andler-Des journées entières dans les arbres-Yes, peut-être-Le Shaga-Un homme est venu me voir, Gallimard, 1968.
  • Détruire, dit-elle, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1969 (tr. Destroy, She Said)
  • Abahn Sabana David, Gallimard, 1970.
  • L'Amour (Love), Gallimard, 1971.
  • Ah! Ernesto, Hatlin Quist, 1971.
  • India Song, Gallimard, 1973 (tr. India Song, 1976)
  • Nathalie Granger, suivi de "La Femme du Gange", Gallimard, 1973.
  • Le Camion, suivi de "Entretien avec Michelle Porte", Les Éditions de Minuit, 1977.
  • L'Eden Cinéma, Mercure de France, 1977 (tr. Eden Cinema, 1992)
  • Le Navire Night, suivi de Cesarée, les Mains négatives, Aurélia Steiner, Mercure de France, 1979.
  • Vera Baxter ou les Plages de l'Atlantique, Albatros, 1980.
  • L'Homme assis dans le couloir, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1980 (tr. The Man Sitting in the Coridor)
  • L'Été 80, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1980.
  • Les Yeux verts, Cahiers du cinéma, n.312-313, juin 1980 et nouvelle édition, 1987 (tr. Green Eyes)
  • Agatha, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1981 (tr. Agatha)
  • Outside, Albin Michel, 1981 (tr. Outside)
  • L'Homme atlantique, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1982.
  • Savannah Bay, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1982, 2ème edition augmentée, 1983 (tr. Savannah Bay, 1992)
  • La Maladie de la mort, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1982 (tr. The Malady of Death)
  • Théâtre III : -La Bête dans la jungle, d'après H. James, adaptation de J. Lord et M. Duras,-Les Papiers d'Aspern,d'après H. James, adaptation de M. Duras et R. Antelme,-La Danse de mort, d'après A. Strindberg, adaptation de M. Duras, Gallimard, 1984.
  • L'Amant, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1984. Was awarded the 1984 Prix Goncourt (tr. The Lover)
  • La Douleur, POL, 1985.
  • La Musica deuxième, Gallimard, 1985.
  • Les Yeux bleus Cheveux noirs, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1986 (tr. Blue Eyes, Black Hair)
  • La Pute de la côte normande, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1986.
  • La Vie matérielle, POL, 1987 (tr. Practicalities)
  • Emily L., Les Éditions de Minuit, 1987 (tr. Emily L.)
  • La Pluie d'été, POL, 1990 (tr. Summer Rain)
  • L'Amant de la Chine du Nord, Gallimard, 1991 (tr. The North China Lover, 1992)
  • Yann Andréa Steiner, Gallimard, 1992 (tr. Yann Andrea Steiner)
  • C'est tout, POL, 1995 (tr. No More)

Filmography as director

  • Les Enfants (1984)
  • Il Dialogo di Roma (1982)
  • L'Homme atlantique (1981)
  • Agatha et les lectures illimitées (1981)
  • Aurelia Steiner (Melbourne) (1979)
  • Aurélia Steiner (Vancouver) (1979)
  • Le Navire Night (1979)
  • Cesarée (1978)
  • Les Mains négatives (1978)
  • Baxter, Vera Baxter (1977)
  • Le Camion (1977)
  • Des journées entières dans les arbres (1976)
  • Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert (1976)
  • India Song (1975)
  • La Femme du Gange (1974)
  • Nathalie Granger (1972)
  • Jeune le soleil (1972)
  • Détruire, dit-elle (1969)
  • La Musica (1967)

Further reading

  • Leslie Hill Marguerite Duras: Apocalyptic Desires (Routledge, 1993)
  • Martin Crowley Duras, Writing, and the Ethical (Oxford University Press, 2000)
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