WRITING by Marguerite Duras

WRITING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this very slender volume, Duras shares with us the writer’s preoccupations with the distance between life and writing, and the contradiction between writing and silence. Winner of the 1984 Prix Goncourt for her novel The Lover, Duras died in 1996. She is without a doubt one of this century’s great literary figures. But that haunting quality, the characteristically slow and deliberate language of her novels, translates less well when her subject is a kind of confessional of her life and work. The five short chapters that make up Writing circle around Duras’s way into and out of the world. Her bare prose casts that same silence she considers fundamental to any writer: It is —the price one pays for having dared go out and scream.” At this point, one chooses to either get lost in her fantasy or bow out, because much of Duras’s prose begs the point with characteristic vagueness. Whether sitting alone considering the death of a fly, or trying to capture the entire life of a young pilot in the moment of his death, Duras is convinced that the “death of that fly has become this displacement of literature” and that writing it “renders it inaccessible.” What remains is the nakedness of writing itself, and Duras hones this point into the ground. Strangely, the most poignant image of the creative act according to Duras comes in her final chapter, “The Painting Exhibition,” where she describes the painter at work. “We leave him to his misfortune, to that infernal obligation that outstrips any commentary, any metaphor . . . to his own story . . . struggling in the continent of silence.” Duras’s theory of the written word would rob her life’s work of the magic she has so masterfully created over a lifetime. Rereading The Lover might be the only antidote to so much discomfort.

Pub Date: May 30th, 1998
ISBN: 1-57129-053-2
Page count: 98pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998




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