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Marguerite Duras (1914-1996)

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French novelist, representative of nouveau roman, screenwriter, scenarist, playwright, and film director, internationally known for her screenplays of HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, directed by Alain Resnais in 1959 and INDIA SONG (play 1973, screenplay 1975). After fairy traditional novels and stories she published in 1958 the novel MODERATO CANTABILE, which first summarized her themes of sexual desire, love, death and memory.

Marguerite Duras was born in Gia Dinh, Vietnam. She spent most of his

childhood in Indo-China, but at the age of 17 she moved to France, where she studied law at the Sorbonne.

From 1935 to 1941 Duras worked at the ministry of colonies. During World War II she was a member of French Resistance. Her husband Robert Antelme was member of the resistance group Richelieu, led by François Mitterand. He was captured by the Gestapo in 194, but he survived Buchenwald, Gandersheim and Dachau, and wrote his memoirs L'escepe humaine, when he returned to France, having been on the brink of death. Antelme was nursed by Duras, who had already earlier planned to leave him, but waited for his recovery, to marry then the man who would be the father of his child. This period was basis for Duras's later collection of short stories, entitled LA DOULEUR(1985), a literary cry about the pressure under which she lived.

After the war Duras worked among others as a journalist for the magazine Observateur.

Duras published her first book, LES IMPUDENTS, in 1942. Her reputation was made in the 1950s with such works as UN BARRAGE CONTRE LE PASIFIQUE (1950), which depicted a poor French family in Indochina, the psychological romantic novel LE MARIN DEGIBRALTAR (1952), and LE SQUARE (1955). In the 1960s Duras's writing grew increasingly minimal and abstract. Her sparse and limpid, yet suggestive style and her use of language was much discussed by feminists as embodying feminine writing.

From the 1970s Duras concentrated on making films and publishing

screenplays. In the 1980s she wrote her Goncourt-winning autobiography

L'AMANT (1984), which was adapted into screen, and was based on her youth in Indo-China. Duras's struggle with her alcoholism was subject for Yann Andréa's book M.D., her 45 years younger friend.

Nouveau roman, see also Claude Simon, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Michel Butor, and Nathalie Sarraute.

For further reading: The Other Woman: Feminism and Feminity in the Works of Marguerite Duras by Trista Selous (1988)

Note: Although Duras helped writers opposing Nazis during World War II,

among others Robert Antelme, who was imprisoned in Dachau, she has been

accused of being member of literary committee controlled by the Germans.

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