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The North China Lover: A Novel Paperback – March 1, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Hailed in France as "an incomparable pleasure," Marguerite Duras's 1991 novel is a spare, beautiful retelling of the dramatic experiences of her own adolescence. More daring and truthful than any book she wrote previously -- including The Lover, it emphasizes the realities of her youth in Indochina and reveals much that her earlier works concealed.

From Publishers Weekly

The veteran French author, who scored a considerable success with The Lover, here zeroes in much more closely on the passionate affair between her young self, a French teenager at a school in Indo-China in the early 1930s, and the spoiled young son of a Chinese millionaire. Beginning as bare notes toward a film script (Duras wrote the script for Hiroshima, Mon Amour), the story quickly takes on its own intense, exotic flavor. The febrile sexuality of the young girls at the school, the languid emotionalism of the Chinese lover, the splendid cars, the melancholy American dance music, the open roads across the rice paddies under wide rainy skies, the cinemas and nightclubs, and finally the ocean liner that takes her tragic family back to F'rance-Duras evokes all this with the utmost economy but the most telling atmospheric force. No doubt her lean, haunting prose reads even more beautifully in the original French, but Duras's story is so powerfully imagined (or remembered) that its blend of passion and cynicism lingers like a strong perfume. Irresistible for grownup romantics.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; Reprint edition (March 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565840437
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565840430
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In 1984, Marguerite Duras won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary award, for her short novel, "The Lover". That novel told the simple story of an adolescent French girl living in Vietnam in the 1930s. She meets an older Chinese man who becomes her lover. It is a sparely written novel, shifting in time and narrative perspective, often difficult to follow. It is also a novel charged with memory, yearning and erotic feeling.
"The North China Lover", written several years later and published in an English edition in 1992, is a kind of extension of the earlier novel, written with much more detail, inhabiting the interstices of "The Lover". Like its precursor, "The North China Lover" tells a powerful tale of love between the twenty-seven year old Chinese man and the barely teen-aged girl whom he meets on a ferry crossing the Mekong River. Once again, neither the Chinese man nor the girl has a name. However, unlike the earlier novel, many of the other characters are identified and the narrative of "The North China Lover" is considerably more detailed. Originally written as notes for a screenplay of "The Lover", the narrative of "The North China Lover" is episodic, described by one reviewer as having the "grainy, filmic qualities of a documentary." It is also more linear in its story line, easier to follow than the earlier novel, but still characterized by the nouveau roman influences that permeate Marguerite Duras' writing.
"The North China Lover", like its precursor, is a compelling work of memory, eroticism and yearning that, in true Duras style, conflates literary imagination and biography. Read it slowly, languorously savor its eroticism, and let it linger in your mind long after you've closed the book.
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Format: Hardcover
After first reading The Lover in my freshman year of college English course, Marguerite Duras' sporatic yet detailed writing ability left me hungry for more of her work. A caution to unprepared readers, though, the author's train of thought is somewhat confusing but a very pleasurable experience, overall. If you get to love her unique style of writing as much as I do, you will be hooked on this story of passion for life.
The North China Lover explores a deeper account, as first explained in Duras' The Lover, of the passionate affair carried on by "the child" and her "Chinese lover" in 1920s Indochina. Duras pays particular attention to addressing the mother and the two brothers of the child, forcing the reader to question whether the child allows her lover to take her sex for money or pure passion.
This autobiography of Duras' early years could be described as a real twist of fate in true Romeo and Juliet style. The Chinese lover could never marry the child because his traditional, wealthy father would never permit it, and it is in this suffering the child realizes his only real worthiness is in his captivating lovemaking. The child knows she will never marry her lover, and it is this truth which keeps Duras' character entranced with this mysterious man until her death years later in France.
If you like the book, look for Arnaud's film version of "The Lover" which starred Jane March and Tony Leung.
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Format: Paperback
In 1984, Marguerite Duras won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary award, for her short novel, "The Lover". That novel told the simple story of an adolescent French girl living in Vietnam in the 1930s. She meets an older Chinese man who becomes her lover. It is a sparely written novel, shifting in time and narrative perspective, often difficult to follow. It is also a novel charged with memory, yearning and erotic feeling.
"The North China Lover", written several years later and published in an English edition in 1992, is a kind of extension of the earlier novel, written with much more detail, inhabiting the interstices of "The Lover". Like its precursor, "The North China Lover" tells a powerful tale of love between the twenty-seven year old Chinese man and the barely teen-aged girl whom he meets on a ferry crossing the Mekong River. Once again, neither the Chinese man nor the girl has a name. However, unlike the earlier novel, many of the other characters are identified and the narrative of "The North China Lover" is considerably more detailed. Originally written as notes for a screenplay of "The Lover", the narrative of "The North China Lover" is episodic, described by one reviewer as having the "grainy, filmic qualities of a documentary." It is also more linear in its story line, easier to follow than the earlier novel, but still characterized by the nouveau roman influences that permeate Marguerite Duras' writing.
"The North China Lover", like its precursor, is a compelling work of memory, eroticism and yearning that, in true Duras style, conflates literary imagination and biography. Read it slowly, languorously savor its eroticism, and let it linger in your mind long after you've closed the book.
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Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful re-work of her earlier novel, The Lover. Very sad, the story describes a youth, coming of age, that is set in a deteriorating colonial situation in Vietnam as well as a family in a crisis of addiction and mental illness. In the larger context, you really get a feeling for what it was like to live there then, as well as of the Asian and French colonial mentalities. In contrast to many contemporary French novels, which I usually find very difficult to understand given their willful obscurantism, while exotics the characters are very real and easy to identify with.
Recommended.
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