Marguerite Duras - Writer




Writer. Nationality: French. Born: Marguerite Donnadieu in Giadinh, French Indo-China, 1914. Education: Educated in mathematics, law and political science at the Sorbonne, Paris. Career: Published first novel, Les Impudents , 1943; subsequently novelist, journalist and playwright; directed first film, La Musica , 1966. Awards: Prix Goncourt for novel L'Amant , 1984; CICAE Award, CIDALC Award, and Silver Berlin Bear Honorable Mention, Berlin International Film Festival, all for Les Enfants , 1985; Died: 3 March 1996, in Paris, France.


Films as Writer:

1959

Hiroshima mon amour (Resnais)

1960

Moderato Cantabile (Brook) (co-adapt from her novel)

1961

Une Aussi longue absence ( The Long Absence ) (Colpi) (co-sc from her novel)

1964

Nuit noire, Calcutta (Karmitz) (short)

1965

"Les rideaux blancs" (Franju) episode of Der Augenblick des Friedens ( Un Instant de la paix ) (for W. German TV)

1966

10:30 P.M. Summer (Dassin) (co-sc uncredited, from her novel) ( Dix heures et demie du soir en été ); La Voleuse (Chapot) (+ dialogue); La Musica (+ co-d)

1969

Détruire, dit-elle ( Destroy She Said ) (+ d)

1971

Jaune le soleil (+ d, pr, co-ed, from her novel Abahn, Sabana, David )

1972

Nathalie Granger (+ d, music)

1974

La Femme du Ganges (+ d)

1975

India Song (+ d, voice)

1976

Des journées entières dans les arbres ( Days in the Trees ) (+ d); Son Nom de Venises dans Calcutta desert (+ d)

Marguerite Duras
Marguerite Duras

1977

Baxter, Vera Baxter (+ d); Le Camion (+ d, role)

1978

Le Navire Night (+ d)

1978/79

Aurelia Steiner (4-film series): Cesarée (1978) (+ d); Les Mains négatives (1978) (+ d); Aurelia Steiner—Melbourne (1979) (+ d); Aurelia Steiner—Vancouver (1979) (+ d)

1981

Agatha et les lectures illimitées ( Agatha ) (+ d)

1991

L'Amant ( The Lover ) (co-sc)



Other Films:

1985

Les Enfants ( The Children ) (d)



Publications


By DURAS: screenplays—

Hiroshima mon amour , Paris, 1959.

Moderato Cantabile , with Gérard Jarlot and Peter Brook, 1960.

Une Aussi longue absence , with Gérard Jarlot, Paris, 1961.

10:30 P.M. Summer , with Jules Dassin, Paris, 1966.

La Musica , Paris, 1966.

Detruire, dit-elle , Paris, 1969; as Destroy, She Said , New York, 1970.

Les rideaux blancs , Paris, 1966.

Jaune le soleil , Paris, 1971

Nathalie Granger, suivi de La Femme du Gange , Paris, 1973.

India Song—texte—theatre—film , Paris, 1975; as India Song , New York, 1976.

Des journées entières dans les arbres , Paris, 1976.

Son Nom de Venises dans Calcutta desert , Paris, 1976.

Le Camion , Paris, 1977.

Le Navire Night, Césarée, Les Mains négatives, Aurelia Steiner , Paris, 1979.

Vera Baxter; ou, Les Plages de l'Atlantique , Paris, 1980.

Agatha , Paris, 1981.

Les Enfants , Paris, 1985.


By DURAS: fiction—

Les Impudents , Paris, 1943.

La Vie tranquille , Paris, 1944.

Un Barrage contre le Pacifique , Paris, 1950; as The Sea Wall , New York, 1952; as A Sea of Troubles , London, 1953.

Le Marin de Gibraltar , Paris, 1952; as The Sailor From Gibraltar , London and New York, 1966.

Les Petits Chevaux de Tarquinia , Paris, 1953; as The Little Horses of Tarquinia , London, 1960.

Des journées entières dans les arbres , Paris, 1954; as Whole Days in the Trees , New York, 1981.

Le Square , Paris, 1955.

Moderato Cantabile , Paris, 1958, and New York, 1987.

Dix heures et demi du soir en été , Paris, 1960; as Ten-Thirty on a Summer Night , London, 1962.

L'Après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas , Paris, 1962; as The Afternoon of Monsieur Andesmas , London, 1964.

Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein , Paris, 1964; as The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein , New York, 1967; as The Rapture of Lol V. Stein , London, 1967.

Le Vice-consul , Paris, 1966; as The Vice-Consul , London, 1968, New York, 1987.

L'Amante anglaise , Paris, 1967, New York, 1968.

Abahn, Sabana, David , Paris, 1970.

L'Amour , Paris, 1971.

Ah! Ernesto , with Bernard Bonhomme, Paris, 1971.

La Maladie de la mort , Paris, 1983; as The Malady of Death , New York, 1986.

L'Amant , Paris, 1984; as The Lover , New York, 1985.

Hiroshima mon amour , translated by Richard Seaver, New York, 1987.

Les Yeux bleus cheveux noirs , Paris, 1987; as Blue Eyes, Black Hair , London and New York, 1988.

Emily L. , Paris, 1987, New York, 1989.

The Lover , introduction by Maxine Hong Kingston, translated by Barbara Bray, New York, 1998.


By DURAS: plays—

Théâtre 1 (includes Les Eaux et forets, Le Square, La Musica ), Paris, 1965.

Théâtre 2 (includes Susanna Andler ; Yes, peut-étre; Le Shaga; Des journées entières dans les arbres ; Un Homme est venu me voir) , Paris, 1968.

L'Homme assis dans le couloir , Paris, 1980.

L'Homme Atlantique , Paris, 1982.

Savannah Bay , Paris, 1982.

The Square , Edinburgh, 1986.

Yes, peut-etre , Edinburgh, 1986.


By DURAS: other books—

Les Parleuses , with Xaviere Gauthier, Paris, 1974.

Étude sur l'oeuvre littéraire, théâtrale, et cinématographique , with Jacques Lacan and Maurice Blanchot, Paris, 1976.

Territoires du féminin , with Marcelle Marini, Paris, 1977.

Les Lieux de Duras , with Michelle Porte, Paris, 1978.

L'Été 80 , Paris, 1980.

Outside: Papiers d'un jour , Paris, 1981, Boston 1986.

The War: A Memoir , New York, 1986.

The Physical Side , London, 1990.

By DURAS: articles—

"Conversation with Marguerite Duras," with Richard Roud, in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1959/60.

"Marguerite Duras en toute liberté," interview with F. Dufour, in Cinéma (Paris), April 1972.

"Du livre au film," in Image et Son (Paris), April 1974.

"India Song, a Chant of Love and Death," interview with F. Dawson, in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1975.

"India Song and Marguerite Duras," interview with Carlos Clarens, in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1975/76.

Interview with J.-C. Bonnet and J. Fieschi, in Cinématographe (Paris), November 1977.

"Les Yeux verts," special issue written and edited by Duras, of Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June 1980.

Interview with D. Fasoli, in Filmcritica (Florence), June 1981.

Interview with A. Grunert, in Filmfaust (Frankfurt), February-March 1982.

"The places of Marguerite Duras," an interview with M. Porte, in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Spring 1983.

Interview with P. Bonitzer, C. Tesson, and Serge Toubiana, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), July-August 1985.

Interview with Jean-Luc Godard, in Cinéma (Paris), 30 December 1987.

Interview with Colette Mazabrard, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1989.

"Jacquot filme Duras," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), May 1993.


On DURAS: books—

Bernheim, N.-L., Marguerite Duras tourne un film , Paris, 1976.

Ropars-Wuilleumier, Marie-Claire, La Texte divisé , Paris, 1981.

Trastulli, Daniela, Dalla parola all imagine: Viaggio nel cinema di Marguerite Duras , Geneva, 1982.

Borgomano, Madeleine, L'Ecriture filmique de Marguerite Duras , Paris, 1985.

Brossard, Jean-Pierre, editor, Marguerite Duras: Cinéaste, écrivain , La Chaux-de-Fonde, 1985.

Guers-Villate, Yvonne, Continuité/discontinuité de l'oeuvre Durassienne , Brussels, 1985.

Fernandes, Marie-Pierre, Travailler avec Duras: La musica deuxième , Paris, 1986.

Selous, Trista, The Other Woman: Feminism and Femininity in the Work of Marguerite Duras , New Haven, Connecticut, 1988.

Vircondelet, Alain, Duras: A Biography , translated by Thomas Buckley, Normal, Illinois, 1994.

Adler, Laure, Marguerite Duras: A Life , translated by Anne-Marie Glasheen, Chicago, 2000.


On DURAS: articles—

Gollub, Judith, "French Writers Turned Film Makers," in Film Heritage (New York), Winter 1968/69.

"Reflections in a Broken Glass," in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1975.

Lakeland, M.J., "Marguerite Duras in 1977," in Camera Obscura (Berkeley), Fall 1977.

Van Wert, W.F., "The Cinema of Marguerite Duras: Sound and Voice in a Closed Room," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1979.

Seni, N., "Wahrnehungsformen von Zeit und Raum am Beispiel der Filme von Marguerite Duras und Chantal Akerman," in Frauen und Film (Berlin), September 1979.

"Marguerite Duras à l'action," in Positif (Paris), July/August 1980.

Andermatt, V., "Big mach (on the truck)," in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Spring 1980.

Lyon, E., "Marguerite Duras: Bibliography/Filmography," in Camera Obscura (Berkeley), Fall 1980.

Murphy, C.J., "The role of desire in the films of Marguerite Duras," in Quarterly Review of Film Studies (New York), Winter 1982.

Fedwik, P., "Marguerite Duras: Feminine Field of Nostalgia," in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Fall 1982.

Sarrut, B., "Marguerite Duras: Barrages against the Pacific," in On Film (Los Angeles), Summer 1983.

Murphy, C.J., "New narrative regions: The role of desire in the films and novels of Marguerite Duras," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), April 1984.

Le Masson, H., "La voix tatouee," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), January 1985.

McWilliams, D., "Aesthetic tripling: Marguerite Duras's Le navire Night ," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), January 1986.

Cottent-Hage, M., "Le camion de Marguerite Duras, ou comment assurer la libre circulation," in Post Script (Commerce), vol. 7, no. 1, Fall 1987.

Williams, Bruce, "Splintered Perspectives: Counterpoint and Subjectivity in the Modernist Film Narrative," in Film Criticism (Meadville), vol. 15, no. 2, Winter 1991.

Grange, M.F., "Corps filmique entre lisible et visible chez Marguerite Duras," in Cinémas (Montreal), vol. 3, no. 1, Autumn 1992.

Vajdovich, G., "Antiregény és anitfilm," in Filmkultura (Budapest), April 1995.

Johnston, Trevor, "French Lessons," in Time Out (London), 18 October 1995.

DuPont, J., "The Enduring Duras," in Village Voice (New York), 9 April 1996.

Obituary, in EPD Film (Frankfurt), April 1996.

Obituary, in Kino (Sofia), no. 2, 1996.

Obituary, in Classic Images (Muscatine), May 1996.

Obituary, in Skrien (Amsterdam), June-July 1996.

Roy, André, "Marguerite Duras, moderne," in 24 Images (Montreal), no. 82, Summer 1996.

Everett, Wendy, "Director as Composer: Marguerite Duras and the Musical Analogy," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury), April 1998.


* * *


Marguerite Duras brought the same qualities that made her a lyrical yet powerful novelist and playwright to her screenplays. Duras' work, originally influenced by such American writers as Hemingway and Steinbeck, drew on her unique life which began in what was then Indochina and is now Vietnam. She left Asia in the early 1930s for Paris and began publishing novels that were celebrated for their untraditional narrative structure. For Duras, certainty and a linear plot gave way to work that explored, instead, ambiguity and silences. She was, she said, exploring the "interplay of love and destruction."

She turned to screenwriting in 1959 when French director Alain Resnais asked her to write the screenplay for his film, Hiroshima, Mon Amour, which closely resembled the novel, Moderato Cantiblis (1958), that established her literary reputation. The film explores the brief extra-marital relationship between a French woman (played by Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (played by Eiji Okada.) The film won critical acclaim (the International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the New York Film Critics Best Foreign Language Film Award) in part for the innovative use of flashbacks to the war when the woman was involved with a German soldier. The haunting story, which was able to juxtapose such seemingly disparate themes as Hiroshima and love, reflected Duras' preoccupation with desire, death, love and memory. Although Duras was nominated for an Academy Award for her work as a screenwriter, she was unhappy enough with the result that she claimed she would never again let anyone else direct her words on the screen.

Duras continued to write for the screen and began to direct as well. In 1975 her screenplay for India Song demonstrated Duras' continuing connection to the Asia of her youth, a place that is, for her, emblematic of an unattainable desire and unknowable longing which, sought through memory, can only, finally, be resolved in death. The 1977 adaptation of her novel, Le Camion , which she directed, features a scene in which Duras herself reads star Gerard Depardieu the scenario of the film, which focuses on a truck driver and a mysterious woman hitch-hiker. Duras directed in order to be able to "preserve textual obscurity."

Her 1985 novel, L'aimant ( The Lover ), perhaps her finest work, returned to the Indochina of her youth. The New York Times Book Review praised it for the same qualities that infused the film (released in 1991): its "masterly balance between formalism and powerful emotional effect." Duras was uniquely capable of creating what has been called cinematic prose, or "literary films." Her innovative work as a screenwriter and director paved the way for such minimalist women filmmakers as Chantal Ackerman who followed in the wake of Duras' artistic legacy.

—Nina Bjornsson



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