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The Lover ()

New York Public Library's Books of the Century

    Learn to read them properly. They are sacred.
        -Marguerite Duras speaking of her own writing

    They say masturbation makes morons of children. It wasn't the case with me. On the contrary, it brought me reason, revolt and joy.
        -Marguerite Duras speaking of herself

These two quotations, which the critic Robert Fulford cites in his review of a biography of Ms Duras, provide us with some perspective on how we're supposed to react to this semi-autobiographical novel.  For the novel is itself masturbatory, an act of self-love.  And only someone who considers themself to be a kind of divine could possibly imagine that readers would find beautiful and moving the story of her own childhood whoredom.

Ms Duras seems to have been a profoundly despicable person, a collaborator with the Nazis in Vichy France, then switching to the Communists just in time to save her skin, disliked by even her "friends", and apparently filled with well-deserved self-loathing.  Here she tells the altogether unpleasant tale of a 15 year old French girl in Indochina who, her family having fallen on hard times, seduces a rich Chinese man twice her age in order to become his kept woman.  It is a love story that is devoid of love, a piece of erotica that is singularly unerotic, a coming of age tale by an author who seems to have spent in life trapped in the self-centeredness of childhood.  It. like its author, is simply appalling.


Grade: (F)


Book-related and General Links:
    -Marguerite Duras (1914-1996) (kirjasto)
    -LETTER : An Open Letter to Fidel Castro  (Marguerite Duras, NY Review of Books, May 6, 1971)
    -TRIBUTE : The unspeakable, she said... (Label France)
    -Société Marguerite Duras
    -Marguerite Duras (Spartacus)
    -PROFILE : Marguerite Duras & Robert Brasillach (Robert Fulford, The National Post, January 23, 2001)
    -PROFILE : Marguerite Duras (Kathleen McFadden , History's Women)
    -ESSAY : Marjorie Garber and Marguerite Duras--Vested Interests in The Lover
    -BOOK LIST : Colonialism and Its Aftermath : 17. "The Lover," Marguerite Duras (1984) (NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BOOKS OF THE CENTURY )

    -FILMOGRAPHY : Marguerite Duras (
    -INFO : Amant, L' (1991) (Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud)


I can't even believe the ignorance with which this review was written. First of all, it is a known fact that Ms. Duras and her husband were members of the French resistance during WW II. Secondly, it sounds like this reviewer is judging Ms. Duras work based upon his misconceptions of her as a person. It just shows that the person who wrote this does not know what they are talking about and could not appreciate a great work of literature if it slapped them in the face!

- Cal Venmar

- Apr-24-2007, 17:03


I believe that I have strong morals, but I am not so "high and mighty" that I cannot connect to this story by Duras; so, like everyone else has suggested, perhaps you should not imbue your reviews with your moral judgements. I also think Duras' style is incredibly beautiful and poetic; and this is coming from someone who is very well-read.

- Your review stinks!

- Aug-07-2004, 04:56


This review is ignorant and ridiculous.


- Aug-07-2004, 04:53


I do not agree with your review. I loved this movie and thought it was brilliantly made.


- Jun-23-2004, 02:06


you're a moron. the lover is a brillent piece of literature. it is not asking for judgement; she has already been judged. i wouldnt bother reviewing books if you have the mentality (in this day and age) to judge them on your own close minded morals. this is the same mentality that had the church burning books. what would you have us read, the bronte sisters forever? its time to evolve.

- amber

- Mar-28-2004, 20:49


Clearly you judge the literary arts by how well they match your personal morality. Why don't you stick to nonfiction? I don't think Duras would ever try to defend the morality of her characters. They are characters--flawed as are people like you and me. It seems to me that you need to seek out other nonfictions that already agree with you. Leave things such as tone, style, and fictional techniques--all things Duras is a master of--to people who appreciate them.

- Christine

- Jan-28-2004, 01:54


Are we only suppossed to read books where emotions are black and white, where good and bad are presented with the clarity that they are in the Bible, since when have you seen any cases of this in the world, except Hitler?. Your criticism of Marguerite Duras's "The Lover" seems naive to the point of blatant ignorance...and it's never smart to confuse unsubstantiated gossip about the author's sexuality and lifestyle with his works...try again

- Amanda

- Oct-07-2003, 14:16