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Comment: Well treated former library Hardcover (as pictured). All pages clean and unmarked. Binding is tight. Dust jacket protected in mylar. Usual library stampings and markings. Ships quickly with domestic delivery confirmation.
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Marguerite Duras: A Life Hardcover – December 15, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (December 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226007588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226007588
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #775,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Duras (1914-1995) is a figure of continuing interest to Francophiles, readers interested in women's writing and devotees of modern films like Hiroshima mon amour. With verve and poignancy, this bestselling 1998 French biography (available for the first time in English) reveals Duras as an intellectual diva and difficult woman pursued by the ghosts of her past and a lifelong call to write. Historian and journalist Adler is able to present this complex picture through her extensive use of intimate sources (including Duras's son Jean and his father, Dionys), as well as her understanding of the high drama of Duras's life. From her childhood in colonial Indochina to her involvement in the Resistance and the development of French postwar cinema and literature, Duras (born Marguerite Donnadieu) was at the center of 20th-century French history; Adler balances her subject and her times with a familiarity that draws readers in and makes reading particularly pleasurable. Moreover, Adler interweaves her discussion of Duras's writing with her lifeAand how each influenced the other. For example, on lover Dionys's infidelity, Adler writes, "Like all women, Marguerite knew the man she was living with was being unfaithful. Like all women, she knew even though she didn't want to know," a situation that is mirrored by Duras in her work The Little Horses of Tarquinia. Similarly, details of Duras's happy young motherhood and even her dark last years reveal her humanity and make this biography as much a tale of a person as of a cultural icon. Duras once said of herself, "I'm not sure I could put up with Duras"; readers may find themselves agreeing halfway through the book, but that won't stop them from reading to the end anywayAto catch all the jewels Adler strews in their path. The book's cover, with a photo of Duras, beautiful and luminous, will inflame readers' attention. Illus. not seen by PW.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From The New Yorker

Duras (1914-1996) lived an exemplary twentieth-century life: from French-colonial Indochina to wartime Paris; from the Communist Party to the riots of May, 1968; from an adolescent affair with a wealthy patron to a lasting relationship with a homosexual man some forty years her junior. She transfigured these experiences into gaunt, poetic fictions, many of which she couched in essaylike meditations on the struggle to produce them. Though Adler interviewed Duras herself at length and had access to her private papers, this admiring but unflinching biography is based largely on remarkably frank interviews with longtime intimates of Duras after her death. The biographer's evidence of her subject's manipulations of fact in her fictions makes for a not unpleasant sense of illicit insight. Even for readers unfamiliar with the novels in question, the stories that Adler carefully reconstructs––particularly Duras's high-wire wartime dalliance with a Gestapo agent and her fight for literary recognition through years of sexual obsession and alcoholic haze––are as gripping as the works they inspired.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "jfallahay" on March 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Laure Adler has written a biography of Ms. Duras that is both compelling and confounding, and although I appreciated her considerable efforts, I finished the book probably "knowing" less about Duras than when I started.
No doubt this can be somewhat attributed to the contradictions that appear to have been a staple of Duras's life and conscience. If Ms. Adler is to be believed, Duras was the most conflicted and Protean artist of the 20th century, forever shape-shifting and believing opposites at once. For every bit of evidence Ms. Adler offers about Duras being X, she offers (at least) a Y and Z stating almost the exact opposite proposition. So I constantly found myself asking, Was she X, Y, or Z?
If she was indeed all three, then I would like the biographer to step in and make some comment to sum up the disparate parts. Rarely, if ever, does Ms. Adler see this as her function. She faithfully details the facts of Duras's life and works, but she (almost) never comments or crystallizes them. We are told on the dust jacket that Ms. Adler has been trained as an historian and as a journalist, and it is decidedly the latter profession that seems to dominate her scrutinization of Duras. Plenty of facts are offered. There is plenty of thesis and antithesis depicted, but we never seem to attain any synthesis, leaving us in the world of reportage rather than biography.
Adler does triumph in her depiction of postwar Paris in the forties and fifties. Here, she is fully in historical mode and offers readers fascinating insight into the personalities and politics of the time. Rarely have I seen such an enlightened discussion of the artistic and political Zeitgeist of that particular era. The cast of characters and their interactions are well defined and amusingly recounted.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By IsolaBlue on April 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Laure Adler's book comes close, but no book will ever come close enough. Duras' fans will undoubtedly read anything written about her, so anxious are they for shimmers of truth regarding the woman who left such a perplexing legacy of literature. Adler's biography of the fascinating French writer is good and it is certainly much more revealing than say, Alain Vircondolet's DURAS which might be more of a pleasure to read (he took Duras up on a challenge to try and write as she did), but says far less about the woman.
There are times when Adler's sentence structure seems choppy, and this may be hard for more sophisticated readers, but bear in mind that although Anne-Marie Glasheen seems to have made a suitable translation, translations can be difficult and something is almost always lost.
The emphasis here should really be on content and Adler did a fair job considering the difficulty in separating the real Duras from the invented one. For those looking merely for facts, Adler clears up the myth around THE LOVER, does a superb job of showing Duras through the war years, and gives a reasonable look at her friendship with Mitterand. One will miss an in-depth report on her relations with her family and will undoubtedly want to know more - especially about the elusive younger brother. As we read we become struck by the presence of men in Duras' life, and we yearn a bit for insights from a close woman friend. Unfortunately, Duras did not seem to allow many women into her life.
Adler's book is recommended for any fan of Duras' literature as it will at least give some insight - possibly new - into her working mind. But don't expect miracles. And expect more books forthcoming. Duras' son, Outa, is a rather silent voice in this book and one can't help but think that there is part of Marguerite alive in the world who has not yet spoken (written) his thoughts.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Was Marguerite Duras a heroine or a monster? If Adler is to be believed, the famous French writer and filmmaker was both. This is a fascinating story of a woman who was alternately a patriot and a traitor during WWII. (She slept with the enemy, a Nazi sympathizer, to further her own career and simultaneously worked for the French Resistance.) She wrote sizzling, steamy fiction that she claimed chronicled her own, true adventures as a young femme fatale growing up in Indochina, as a student in Paris, as a radical politician and literary maven. She could be generous and loyal to a fault, or, in the blink of an eye, turn into a raging, arrogant harpy.
If the truth is stranger than fiction, then Duras was even more monstrous than the characters in her novels. This is the story, wonderfully told, of a truly sick ticket indeed.
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