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The Lover Paperback – Sep 8 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (Sept. 8 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375700528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375700521
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.3 x 1.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 141 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #102,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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One day, I was already old, in the entrance of a public place a man came up to me. Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David P Oller on Dec 22 2003
Format: Paperback
It's not that Duras threw away the rules, but how well she understood them and knew how to use them.
The book starts out using Historical Present Tense to create a particular feeling in the reader, and when our heroine becomes too emotionally engaged, Duras creates a feeling of withdrawl by switching from First Person to Third Person.
This is brilliance, and greatly unappreciated.
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I bought this book because I visited the house where the Chinese lover lived on the shores of the Mekong River in Vietnam. I heard the story from a women who provided tours of the house. I then proceeded to Saigon and visited the traditional Chinese area of the city knowing that a lot of this book's action took place in that area. I enjoyed my visit to Vietnam. I bought this book along with Graham Green's Quiet American. The books took me back to the sights, heat, and tensions of the country. I loved them both. They are better read after a visit than before. I recommend them. Marguerite Duras is a gifted writer. She uses words sparingly but effectively. The Lover is a treat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on March 25 2004
Format: Paperback
Marguerite Duras has written, in retrospect, the hypnotic story of her odd relationship with the adult son of a Chinese millionnaire at least 15 yrs her senior. Written as a novel, there's no doubt it's Duras' own tale of her love affair when she was just a 15yo in Indochina in the 30s, one of three children of a disturbed and impoverished English widow who was trying to make ends meet as a teacher. Her daughter, Duras, was left mostly to fend for herself at a boarding school that was unusually permissive with the odd comings and goings of this precocious child-woman.
Duras tells this story from the distance of years, through a technique of oblique references, forgettings, reiteration, repetition (the straw hat, the dress, the shoes...), fractured images, and readers get the sense of coming at what happened reluctantly, as tho the author is a little unwilling to share everything with us.
It's a mesmerizing, seductive, atmospheric, overlapping, strangely detached story - one that readers will not soon forget.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stacey M Jones on Jan. 11 2004
Format: Paperback
THE LOVER by Marguerite Duras, which was an international best seller and winner of the Prix Goncourt in France, tells the story of a young French girl growing up in Indochina in the 1930s and her affair with the son of a Chinese millionaire. She does not love him and his father refuses to allow them to stay together because she is white, but, to me, the love story, while serving as the reason for the story, is not the central focus. More riveting, I found was the emotional violence of the narrator's family life and the style in which it is written.

The book is written expertly and experimentally in a way that moves like a recollecting mind among ideas, images and themes. At first this is disorienting to the reader, but it begins to feel very natural very quickly, because I think the style effectively mimics the way the mind flows back over our past. Duras wrote the reputedly semi-autobiographical book over four months in 1984 when she was nearly seventy years old.

The passages on the life of her family are tragic and, as I said, emotionally very violent. The nameless French narrator grows up with a poor mother who is a school mistress in Indochina and her two brothers. The elder brother seems to be incredibly self involved and coddled by their mother, but the younger siblings are afraid of him. Duras recounts his actions with a distance that makes his behaviors more frightening, and he emerges as a central force of the book.

The small book, a little over 100 pages, is hard to forget. It so well mimics the process of the mind, it begins to feel as if it is one's own memories, mined from all the connections thoughts seek to make when we look back to a time long past that won't let us go.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Savoie on Nov. 10 2003
Format: Paperback
L'Amant is an amazing book, full of sorrow and muted passion. It swept me away, and into my own sorrow about love. I read it several times. I've read about 5 novels by Duras, out of her huge catalogue of books (40 or so?). This one is definitely my favorite.
Languid language, erotic yet not pornographic, sensual. Fully emotional yet emotionally distant at the same time.
Also, the novel is "semi-autobiographical". It chronicles the first person narrator's love affair with an older chinese man when she was just a poor young teenager. The story has been romanticized heavily from the real life story of Duras, who (I am told by a friend who studied her in depth) was prostituted by her mother to this rich chinese man in her youth. I regret I don't remember the differences between real-life and the book well now. But knowing this opened a further sadness to the story. But I suppose it was the author's way of beautifying a terrible experience she had had.
[Technically I haven't read this book, I read the original French version. But if I write this review for that edition no one will see it.]
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By avid reader on Oct. 28 2003
Format: Paperback
This autobiographical novel is pure art. I read it in French first, but the translation loses nothing of the suspended breath of emotion so often found in French literature. There is nothing overwritten in the prose or overstated in the story. The tale of a girl's forbidden passion is quite breathtaking in its simplicity and poignant in its retelling by the woman now grown old.--Sophie Simonet, ACT OF LOVE, romantic suspense novel (Fictionwise)
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