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The Lover Paperback – Sep 8 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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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: 13.2 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 240 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #100,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
The Lover is, first and formost, a tragedy of two lovers destined to part. Marguerite Duras has created a world in which love, in many forms, is still found (if only briefly) in the face of ever-present impossibilty. While arguably semi-autobiographical, the real charm of this book is its grittiness and willingness to present a world in which people can and do make choices that they know will only lead to ruin and disappointment, and still live with the consequences.
Duras' narrator, an unnamed woman reflecting back on her coming of age in Saigon, shares her life in a frank yet touching way. The depth of thought and feeling the character portrays lends a sense of reality. Does she love the man from Chalong? Is this just prostitution? Is she driven by poverty and desperation, or is she seeking an escape from the horrors at home? I suspect even Duras was unsure, and this fallability of her narrator is what makes her so real and engaging.
The passion of the lovers, featured so prominently in the erotic loves scenes of the film adaptation, are far more subtle in the novel. There are no cheap thrills here, and those looking for wild descriptions of who does what to whom are bound to be disappointed. This is no Harliquin romance. Perhaps the most sexually explicit description is not of the heroine's time with the man from Cholong but of her fantasies about her friend Helen. These fantasies inform us of the nature of her sexual relationship with her Chinese lover more than any other memory. they also highlight the young girl's search for compassion and love that has been missing from her life to this point.
The life of Duras' lovers offers an interesting allegory to the decline of the French Indochinoise colonies.
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