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YANN ANDRÉA STEINER by Marguerite Duras


A Memoir

by Marguerite Duras

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-684-19590-9
Publisher: Scribner

A slim memoir of a revitalizing love affair, overwhelmed by intellectual overkill. Ill, drinking too much, and unable to write, noted French author Duras was spending her time holed up in her apartment on the French coast until a chance correspondence with Yann Andrea Steiner, 36 years younger than herself, turned into a restorative affair when the young man visited her in the summer of 1980. Here- -recalling elliptically the details of their meetings, their living together, and their conversations, and creating a long fable that encompasses many of her favorite themes, including the Holocaust, the anarchy of passion, and the tragedies of childhood—Duras expresses gratitude for Steiner's restoring her health and her art, for being ``the voice of my life.'' The fable—which forms the major part of the text—was inspired by watching a group of children and their camp counselors on the beach, as well as by Steiner's inquiries about Theodora Kats, inspiration for a book that Duras had abandoned writing ``after thinking for years [that she] could write it.'' The mystery of Kats—a woman dressed all in white who was seen watching at a station as trains rolled by on their way to the concentration camps, and who may have been shot by the Germans or may have escaped to Switzerland—shadows Duras's fable. That fable itself concerns a six-year-old boy playing on the beach and in love with his counselor, who tells him stories of a mysterious fountain that must die. The fable is fraught with symbols, weighty messages, and an arch pretentiousness that ultimately renders it banal rather than significant. Thin, despite all the heavy stuffing. For die-hard Duras fans only.