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The Lover [Paperback]

Marguerite Duras
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 15.95
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Book Description

Sept. 8 1998
An international best-seller with more than one million copies in print and a winner of France’s Prix Goncourt, The Lover has been acclaimed by critics all over the world since its first publication in 1984.

Set in the prewar Indochina of Marguerite Duras’s childhood, this is the haunting tale of a tumultuous affair between an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover. In spare yet luminous prose, Duras evokes life on the margins of Saigon in the waning days of France’s colonial empire, and its representation in the passionate relationship between two unforgettable outcasts.

Long unavailable in hardcover, this edition of The Lover includes a new introduction by Maxine Hong Kingston that looks back at Duras's world from an intriguing new perspective—that of a visitor to Vietnam today.

(With an introduction by Maxine Hong Kingston; translated from the French by Barbara Bray.)

Frequently Bought Together

The Lover + Selected Poems + Waiting for Godot (Eng rev): A Tragicomedy in Two Acts
Price For All Three: CDN$ 37.15


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Product Description

Review

"Powerful, authentic, completely successful . . . perfect."
The New York Times Book Review

“An exquisite jewel of a novel, as multifaceted as a diamond, as seamless and polished as a pearl.”
Boston Herald
 
 
“A vivid, lingering novel . . . a brilliant work of art.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer

From the Publisher

"Powerful, authentic, completely successful...perfect."
--New York Times Book Review

"Duras manages to combine the seemingly irreconcilable perspectives of confession and objectivity, of lyrical poetry and nouveau roman. The sentences lodge themselves slowly in the reader's mind until they detonate with all the force of fused feeling and thought--the force of a metaphysical contemplation of the paradoxes of the human heart."
--New York Times

"A vivid, lingering novel...a brilliant work of art."
--Cleveland Plain Dealer

"All life is here...visions of love and hate I've never read before. How can something so ethereal be so much more than real? This, I can only suppose, is the mark of literary genius."
--Fay Weldon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
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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Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Experimental writing style that works to perfection 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
4.0 out of 5 stars Memories elucidated 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book For Writers 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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5.0 out of 5 stars IF YOU ARE A WRITER, LEARN FROM THIS BOOK Jan. 18 2003
Format:Paperback
I have read this book 126 times. Every time I read it I learn something new. A lot has been said about the power of its content, the story of passion and longing and the mysteries of love and death. But its true brilliance comes from its form, the WAY in which the story is told. A single image is unfolded and within it we find all the mysteries of life opening and closing, coming clear for a brief moment, then vanishing. I do not think any other book has the same form as this one. This is why it is brilliant. Duras created something utterly unique. All the 'rules' of structure are tossed away. Passages flow one into the next and the connection between them is both seamless and invisible. It may seem random, or intuitive, at first, but as you look deeper you will find there is a deliberate order whose subtlety is unsurpassed, a work of power.
Another interesting point for writers comes from comparing this book with Duras' earlier book, 'The North China Lover'. This other book tells the same story, without any of the depth or power of 'The Lover'. I believe it was a first draft, and 'The Lover' is what became of that first story after years and years of editing and distillation. The contrast between the two is a good lesson in how and why to edit what you write.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse into colonial life in South East Asia.
I bought this book because I visited the house where the Chinese lover lived on the shores of the Mekong River in Vietnam. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michael G. Francis
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique and moving style
A beautiful and tersely written story of the love affair between a teenage French girl and a Chinese man in Indochina.
Published on April 10 2004 by J. Jacobs
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Art
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. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2003 by avid reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a thin memory...
Almost stream-of-consciousness. Beautiful and lyrical and sad.
Makes you think about what life is all about and what will happen as we age and face death. Read more
Published on Oct. 16 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars a very delicate writing
A curiosity of between a fiction and a true story makes me read this book. I really like "the Lover", it's one of my favorite book to recommand others, even though I... Read more
Published on May 20 2003 by Eun
5.0 out of 5 stars a very delicate writing
A curiosity of between a fiction and a true story makes me read this book. I really like "the Lover", it's one of my favorite book to recommand others, even though I... Read more
Published on May 20 2003 by Eun
5.0 out of 5 stars a very delicate writing
A curiosity of between a fiction and a true story makes me read this book. I really like "the Lover", it's one of my favorite book to recommand others, even though I... Read more
Published on May 20 2003 by Eun
5.0 out of 5 stars IF YOU ARE A WRITER, LEARN FROM THIS BOOK
I have read this book 126 times. Every time I read it I learn something new. A lot has been said about the power of its content, the story of passion and longing and the mysteries... Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2003 by Hummingbird
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