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Marguerite Duras: Le Square (The Square)

People have suggested this early novel is boring and, indeed, it is, if you are looking for action. It is quite simply the story of two fairly different people who meet in a park and talk. She is a young governess, looking after a young child. He is a travelling salesman. Nothing happens. Most of the book is the dialogue between the two. She asks questions – about him, and his life – and she answers, just as Anne Desbaresdes will be the one to ask the questions in Moderato Cantabile (Moderato cantabile) while Chauvin answers. Their differences are apparent. He travels too much. She does not travel at all. She is looking for a husband. But they have their similarities. Both are somewhat solitary. He lives in strange towns. Her employer never even looks at her. They both seem to like dancing. Indeed, they make a half-hearted agreement to meet at a dance the following Saturday, though you get the feeling that they won’t. But, ultimately, this is a nouveau roman where there is little plot and little action but where we get a glimpse into two different lives heading in two different directions.

Publishing history

First published in French 1955 by Gallimard
First published in English 1959 by Grove Press