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India Song Paperback – January 13, 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reissue edition (January 13, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802131352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802131355
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #436,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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By Steven Davis on April 9, 2014
Format: Paperback
India Song is a play Marguerite Duras wrote in 1973 based largely on her own 1965 novel The Vice-Consul, which, in turn, used characters from her 1964 novel The Ravishing of Lol Stein. The play was both produced on stage and, in 1975, made into a film by Duras herself.

The drama takes place mostly in Calcutta (now Kolkata) at the French embassy. (Duras says in her preface that she knows full well the embassy would have been in New Delhi, not Calcutta, but she is deliberately imprecise in her geography.) The story centers on the ambassador's promiscuous wife, Anne-Marie Stretter, whose languorous beauty is irresistible to the younger men around her. She and her lovers suffer from a self-destructive despair because of the tropical heat and the human misery surrounding them, especially the leprous beggars who encircle every European compound.

The play is unique in that no words are spoken on stage. In the opening act the players are silent, and all we hear are two disembodied female voices. Voice 1 is fascinated with Anne-Marie and wants to know details of her background. Voice 2 supplies some of the answers, but is clearly in love with Voice 1. In the long second act the players speak, but only when they are off stage. We hear them conversing in an adjacent room, but when they step into sight they are silent. In the final three short acts the female voices return, accompanied by a pair of male voices. And once again the actors on stage are merely posing.

Like many of Duras's other works, India Song combines strong political opinions on colonialism and inequality with a haunting story of erotic obsession. It is well worth reading both the play and The Vice-Consul. The novel has many additional elements not found in the play, but the disembodied voices in the play add a new dimension to the story.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Steven L. Patterson on January 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an astonishing piece of work. While it's unlikely that any of us will EVER see a production in our lifetimes (what producer would be mad enought to try to mount it?), I think I could probably die happy if given the chance, with a sympathetic and visionary director, to play the role of the French Vice Consul from Lahore. Any takers?
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