Marguerite Duras, Rachel Kushner (Introducer)
The Lover, Wartime Notebooks, Practicalities
Marguerite Duras was one of the leading intellectuals and novelist of post-war France, but her wartime writings were not published in full until after her death. The Wartime Notebooks trace Duras's formative experiences - including her difficult childhood in Indochina and her harrowing wait for her husband's return from Nazi internment - revealing the personal history behind her bestselling novels. The Lover is the best known of these; set in pre-war Indochina, its haunting tale of a tumultuous affair between an adolescent French girl and her wealthy Chinese lover is based on her own life. In spare and luminous prose, Duras evokes life on the margins in the waning days of France's colonial empire, and the passionate relationship between two unforgettable outcasts. Practicalities is a collection of small and intensely personal pieces Duras dictated near the end of her life. These deceptively simple meditations on motherhood, domesticity, sex, love, alcohol, writing, and more are witty, earthy, outspoken and surprisingly fresh and relevant to the same issues today.