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Duras: A Biography Hardcover – November 1, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A childhood spent in colonial French Indochina, where she was born in 1914; a member of the Resistance in occupied France during WWII; a belated victory over alcoholism-Marguerite Duras's autobiographical novels and films, most famously The Lover and Hiroshima Mon Amour, certainly draw upon a life rich with incident. Yet Parisian academic Vircondelet's account is overwritten and hagiographical. He symbolizes the elemental source of Duras's work as "the Nightship," a recurrent image; elsewhere, he describes her work as "this cry springing from her, an ancient sound, echoes reverberating from all of the cries haunting her." Such passages strive for incantatory power but at times overshadow the otherwise noteworthy incidents they seek to illuminate. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This is not the first biography of Duras by Vircondelet, who updated his original 1991 French version (Duras: Biographie, Lacombe, St. Laurent, Quebec; Editions Francois Bourin, Paris) for this translation. Vircondelet's attempt at Duras's "impossible biography" is really a portrait of the writer as she emerges from her works: "Duras's story, her life," he states in the preface, "is to be the reflections sent back into the books by the mirrorlike facts." Nee Donnadieu in 1914, Duras spent her youth in colonial French Indochina; in France, she joined the French Resistance as well as the Communist Party. Though she is best known as the author of Hiroshima mon amour, which was filmed in collaboration with Alain Resnais, and her 1984 autobiographical novel L'Amant (The Lover), her literary production is voluminous, including novels, film scripts, and published interviews. Readers aware of the subjective nature of autobiographical works and hoping to find in this book objective, critical, and historical perspectives may need to await another biography of Duras.
Danielle Mihram, Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 378 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; 1st edition (November 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564780651
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564780652
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,468,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By IsolaBlue on November 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Recommended! Alain Vircondelet's biography of the enigmatic Marguerite Duras will satisfy fans of her literature while leaving them with another mystery to solve: her life. Those seeking a fact-filled chronology of her life will be disappointed. Vircondolet does not write a traditional biography. In a way, this is refreshing; we do not need to yawn over endless dates or read lengthy, dry histories of her family members. Yet, at the same time, we miss this. Anyone who has read Duras wants to know MORE of her. Beginning Vircondelet's biography is exciting at first as the keys to Duras' life and personality seem about to be revealed. Upon reading on, it is discovered that there is little to be revealed here other than what we already know from reading her literature into which, of course, she has wound her life. Duras once told a French magazine that she wanted someone to write about her in the style of her own writing. The astonishing part of this biography is that Vircondolet has succeeded in doing this, sounding very much like Marguerite Duras. His sentences roll like waves as hers do, and the reader is lost in a blend of visions, sensuality, and philosophy. DURAS would be a five-star book if the author had managed to ferret out some unknown facts about this amazing writer. But he played his writing on the safe side, and it is not possible to rank this book higher than a four on the rating scale. But Duras' fans should definitely read the biography as it is a bit like having Duras alive again.
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By Jeanajoan on November 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wish I had read the other review before I bought this book. The other review is correct: he tries to write like Duras and the factual info is thin. I did not enjoy the author's flowery, overblown writing style, so he gets a low rating.
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