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Marguerite Duras


Marguerite Duras was one of the group mainly published by Éditions de Minuit who became known as nouveau roman writers. As a result, till the more conventional L’Amant (The Lover) was published in 1984 (later made into a successful film), she was not particularly commercially successful, though she had had a long career, both as a writer and film director. Nevertheless, she is considered as one of the most important French writers of the twentieth century.

She was born in 1914 in Giandinh, near Saigon as Marguerite Donnadieu. Her parents were teachers in Vietnam. Her father died when she was four, and her mother bought a rice plantation which continually flooded. The theme of how her mother was cheated by the colonial authorities appears in some of her novels. After attending the Lycée de Saigon, she left to go to school in France in 1932. She earned a degree in law and political science in Paris and then worked for the Ministry of the Colonies. There she met Robert Antelme, a communist and writer. She was a member of the Resistance during the war, where she got to know François Mitterrand. In 1942, she had a child by Antelme but it died at birth. She then started an affair with Dionys Mascolo, a philosopher and fellow communist. They had a son, Jean. Meanwhile, Antelme had been arrested and was sent to a concentration camp. Mitterrand found him in Dachau and arranged for him to return to Paris. Duras looked after him till he regained his health.

She had started writing during the war. She took the name Duras from the village where her father came from. Her first success – a conventional novel – was Un barrage contre le Pacifique (The Sea Wall; A Sea of Troubles), an autobiographical novel about her mother’s problems with her rice plantation. However, she gradually started writing in the nouveau roman style, with minimum plot and action. Le Square (The Square) was the first of her novels in this style. In 1959, Alain Resnais asked her to write the script for Hiroshima, Mon Amour, which became a world-wide success. Her involvement in the cinema both influenced her narrative writing – she started to use cinematographic techniques in her novel such as jump cuts and dissolves – but also was the beginning of a long involvement in the cinema as a scriptwriter and director.

In 1950, she was expelled, along with other intellectuals, from the Communist Party. However she remained committed to left-wing causes. She helped expose the Ben Barka affair and wrote in favour of the 1968 events and feminist issues. She suffered from poor health, in part because of her alcoholism. She died of throat cancer in 1996.

Books about Marguerite Duras

Laure Adler: Marguerite Duras: A Life

Other sites

Marguerite Duras
Marguerite Duras (in French)
Marguerite Duras (in French)
Marguerite Duras (in French)
Marguerite Duras (in French)
Marguerite Duras à Paris (in French)
Société Marguerite Duras (in French)
Association Marguerite Duras (in French)


1943 Les impudents (novel)
1944 La vie tranquille (novel)
1950 Un barrage contre le Pacifique (The Sea Wall) (novel)
1950 Le Marin de Gibraltar (The Sailor from Gibraltar) (novel)
1953 Des petits chevaux de Tarquinia (The Little Horses of Tarquinia) (novel)
1954 Des journées entières dans les arbres (Whole Days in the Trees) (stories)
1955 Le Square (The Square; The Garden Square) (novel)
1958 Moderato Cantabile (Moderato cantabile) (novel)
1959 Les viaducs de la Seine et Oise (drama)
1960 Hiroshima mon amour (Hiroshima, mon amour) (film script)
1960 Dix heures et demie du soir en été (Ten-Thirty on a Summer Night) (novel)
1961 Une aussi longue absence (film script)
1962 L’après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas (The Afternoon of Monsieur Andesmas) (short novel)
1964 Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein (The Ravishing of Lol Stein) (novel)
1965 Théâtre I: les Eaux et Forêts-le Square-La Musica (La Musica)
1965 Le Vice-Consul (The Vice-Consul) (novel)
1967 L’Amante Anglaise (L’Amante anglaise) (novel)
1968 L’Amante Anglaise (L’Amante anglaise) (drama)
1968 Théâtre II : Suzanna Andler (Suzanna Andler); Des journées entières dans les arbres; Yes, peut-être; Le Shaga; Un homme est venu me voir
1969 Détruire dit-elle (Destroy, She Said) (novel)
1970 Abahn Sabana David (Abahn Sabana David)
1971 L’Amour
1971 Ah! Ernesto
1973 India Song (India Song) (film script)
1973 Nathalie Granger suivi de La Femme du Gange
1974 Les Parleuses (Woman to Woman) (conversations with Xavière Gauthier)
1977 Le Camion suivi de Entretiens avec Michelle Porte
1977 L’Eden Cinéma (The Eden Cinema) (drama)
1979 Le Navire Night, suivi de Cesarée, les Mains négatives, Aurélia Steiner
1980 Vera Baxter ou les Plages de l’Atlantique
1980 L’Homme assis dans le couloir (The Seated Man in the Passage; The Man Sitting in the Corridor) (short novel)
1980 L’Été 80
1981 Agatha (Agatha) (drama)
1981 Outside (Outside: Selected Writings)
1982 L’Homme atlantique (The Atlantic Man) (short novel)
1982 Savannah Bay (Savannah Bay) (drama)
1982 La Maladie de la mort (The Malady of Death) (short novel)
1984 Théâtre III : La Bête dans la jungle d’après H. James adaptation de J. Lord et M. Duras, Les Papiers d’Aspern d’après H. James-adaptation de M. Duras et R. Antelme, La Danse de mort d’après A. Strindberg adaptation de M. Duras
1984 L’Amant (The Lover) (novel)
1985 La Douleur (La Douleur; The War: A Memoir)
1985 La Musica deuxième
1985 La Mouette de Tchekov
1986 Les Yeux bleus, Cheveux noirs (Blue Eyes, Black Hair)
1986 La Pute de la côté normande (The Slut of the Normandy Coast)
1987 La Vie matérielle (Practicalities) (Marguerite Duras speaks to Jérôme Beaujour)
1987 Emily L. (Emily L.)
1987 Les yeux verts (Green Eyes) (articles, mainly on the cinema)
1990 La Pluie d’été (Summer Rain)
1991 L’Amant de la Chine du Nord (The North China Lover)
1992 Yann Andréa Steiner
1993 Ecrire (Writing)
1993 Le monde extérieur
1995 C’est tout No More / C’est Tout)
1996 La mer écrite
1997 Romans, cinéma, théâtre: un parcours, 1943-1993 (selections)
1999 Dits à la télévision: entretiens avec Pierre Dumayet
2001 La couleur des mots: autour de huit films : entretiens avec Dominique Noguez
2006 Le bureau de poste de la rue Dupin et autres entretiens (Duras/Mitterand)
2006 Cahiers de la guerre et autres textes
2008 Wartime Writings 1943-1949
2010 La Beauté des nuits du monde (selections)
2014 Deauville la mort
2014 Duras, une vie d’écrits
2019 Me & Other Writing