Marguerite Duras: France’s Most Influential 20th Century Writer and Her Insights on the Writing Process

Marguerite Duras is the most famous “lover” in the history of literature in the 20th century, and also the most influential French writer, screenwriter, director and dramatist of the 20th century.

The cruel childhood and colonial experience became the source of Duras ‘life and creation. At the age of 19, she returned to France to study and received a bachelor’s degree in law and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Paris.

At the age of 29, Duras started her literary career with her novel “The Shameless.” At the age of 70, her autobiographical novel “Lover” won the French Goncourt Prize for Literature in 1984. During her decades-long creative life, in addition to writing novels, she also dabbled in drama and film, won the Drama Award of the French Academy, and not only wrote “Hiroshima Love”(1960),”Long Farewell”(1961) and other excellent screenplays. And since 1965, personally served as director, from the creation of the song of India (1974), there are one or two films come out every year. Even more legendary is her life, even more than 70 works, nearly 20 movies, a few legendary love is also difficult to fully define

Why Write

Q. Why do you write, Marguerite Duras?

Duras: People ask me that question every time I interview, but I never find a satisfactory answer. Everyone has a desire to write, isn’t it? The only difference between a writer and others is that the former writes and publishes, while the latter only dreams. From a dialectical point of view, the only accurate definition of a writer is: a person who publishes his work. But there are also many people who want to write novels all their lives, but always stop.

Q: Maybe they don’t have time?

Duras: No. That’s a bad reason. People can’t work hard as an excuse to write a book plan indefinitely. In fact, they don’t really want to write.

Q. Wasn’t it the same with Proust when he was young?

Duras: Yes. But his work is right there. He wrote “Remembering the Past.”

Childhood is the source of all my inspiration

Q. Were there any events that prompted you to start writing?

Duras: War is meaningless. But this horror never became the material of any of my books. My first novel, The Cheeky Man, was inspired by childhood. After the novel was published, I was very happy. It’s badly written. In “The Dam Against the Pacific,” I was completely out of my childhood. Besides, the work brought me a lot of pain: I wanted to talk about my youth as if it were someone else’s.

Q. Besides childhood, did any other period of your life become the inspiration for a novel?

Duras: No. In addition to childhood, no other. In addition, the meaning of this stage of life for me is no more important than others. But the reason why writers keep talking about childhood is that it is a highly impressionable period in our lives. For children, all events are deeply unjust and have left us with a lifelong scar. Without childhood, there would be no psychoanalysis.

Duras, 15.

Proust taught me to read.

Duras: The most important and crucial teaching is the existence of Proust. In today’s world, he can so dedicated. Whether in space or time.

Anyway, in my opinion, this is everything. This is the most essential. Suppose a man reads only one work, that is, Proust’s work, it is conceivable that he would start from this work, into writing. He will be infected, be illuminated, but suddenly lit up his, is himself, is his own existence, is the power of his spirit and awake. He cried,”There are so many things around me, on me, and I never noticed!”

Because of this, we are familiar with Proust, his words especially applicable to all writers. Proust speaks of artists who do not see their lives because they do not want to know about them; he says that their past is thus filled with countless useless platitudes because they fail to cultivate wisdom.

In Proust’s world, to be sure, nothing is bizarre; Swann is not, Albertine is not, not even the startling Palamède Charlus; the amazing is elsewhere.

It exists in the symphonies that all men compose together, thanks to the vivid writing that enlivens them. In short, Proust’s teachings, lies in the form of transparent, people can come and go freely, is also difficult to crack the complex form. Is not the most important message, or rather the message, the most important teaching, derived from a very important and growing pessimism?

Q. What did Proust teach you in terms of conception? In this regard, he made you how to progress?

Duras: Personally, he taught me to read. I read his book late, after I started writing. But, in the teaching me to read at the same time, he is bound to teach me to write. In other words, avoid writing in ways he would not.

For example, it is because of him that when I reread Gide and Péguy, I see them in a completely different light than when I first read them. No goodwill. He showed me how abominable writers are when they’re flowery, how literature lies, how it’s always preachy.

He let me know that the spirit of gravity is only one direction, that is the author’s conscience, only in this way, god created the world will work. Without a conscience, it won’t work. If a writer confuses his conscience with the insincerity of others “information or teaching, not only will his work lack harmony, but he will not realize it at all. At the end of the day, he mainly taught me, is a personal mistake. This is a serious mistake, very far, but only individual mistakes. He taught me how to end, to say anything, to do anything; he taught me some sort of objective ending; both subjective and objective; but he also taught me that objectivity at all costs is stupid; fantasy, it will let people know how miserable the author.

What else did he teach me? If the expression of an emotion gives rise to judgment, it is because the expression itself gives an opportunity; and if, in the expression of a passion, it appears, and is shocking, and shows boldness, it is arrogant and shameless. When a feeling is great, the audience will not judge whether it is appropriate, whether appropriate.

A writer’s characters, will be in control of their own destiny

Q. I’d like to see how you do it: Your sentence presents an interesting two-sided character: on the one hand it’s finely crafted, it’s well-crafted language, but at the same time it also shows a certain spontaneity, perhaps a bit like you’re sitting in this chair right now, you know what I mean? There is some random, but not casually, there is some research, but it doesn’t appear affectation. How often do you revise your sentences?

Duras: You speak of a very rare haphazard sentence; I see what you mean. That’s because suddenly lost patience, do you understand? I think a lot of writers are like this, to write this sentence, this is a kind of impatient literature, a kind of completely instinctive literature. So it is in principle, it exists! (LAUGHlNG)

Q. But there are chapters that you still have to change. Do you completely destroy a character and start all over again because you realize that he may not be able to live as you suddenly imagine in your mind?

Duras: I gave up some books; but the characters, no, I’ve never given up yet.

Q. Will they act on their own? Do some writers always tell us that they let their characters do what they want, or do you alter their fate from time to time to keep them alive?

Duras: No, they control their own destiny. At the end of the day this is also a kind of saying, if you like. They will bring their own details, as for the main line of their life, people know where they will go!

Is film inferior to literature?

Q: Ms. Margaret Duras, you have chosen to express yourself in literature, in cinema, in theatre. Which of these three expressions best describes you?

Duras: It’s what they call literature.

Q. After all, you are first and foremost a novelist and a poet.

Duras: Yeah, yeah. No, in short, is a novelist, a man behind closed doors.

Q: Is film inferior to literature?

Duras: Yes. The film pushed me more violently into literature. In the film, people meet the need to see the world. Literature and thus become pure.

Q: Still, people can’t write like they did fifty years ago.

Duras: Apparently. In any case, we would kill the Balzacian portrayal of society (which still “works” from a business perspective). Literature precedes writers. Write down something, in the evening, in my house in the country, create something to make me feel happy?? There is a kind of easy to accept the state of?? Someone who knows me very well, to my heart also know something, maybe can write something for me?? A book before publication, will first brewing in my heart. The writer is not entirely responsible for his creation. Writing can be defined as an intrinsic act of reading

A book that’s being written can change direction at any time.

Duras: To write is to let writing do its own thing. That is, both know and don’t know what to write. Don’t believe people know. I’m scared. See which direction to go. There are some very simple coordinates. People say to themselves,”Today, the woman I describe goes out of the room and comes back at dusk.” But, once a woman to go out, you should let her finish the book.

Every day, a book that is being written changes direction. Should follow it. After all, I’m talking about my situation! At this point, I’m sure, I’m absolutely sure that writing is done by the person who appeared at the desk, he is just a visitor to the book.

In general, Sartre’s theory is in writing, this theory has come to an end. In my opinion, Sartre may ignore the writing has a magical function. Is not a person’s impulse, but the impulse of words to words, meaning of impulse. Now people know that. But then, I stepped back. I became a reader. I became my readers. Here Sartre is right: writers should be their first readers. At this point, I’m either going the same way or starting over.

Writing may be a torture

Q. Do you have any hope of discovering young writers?

Duras: Yes. Ah![Laughs] It’s wonderful! Think about the original ecological literature! That’s amazing; only 10 percent of writers get published. Galilema receives 10,000 manuscripts a year. Can be published in less than two hundred. Rejected works are thrown into the warehouse and burned. A library should be set up to collect them. 1789 Third Estate Petition

Q. Do you encourage young people? Or would you persuade them to give up?

Duras: I rarely encourage. This is indeed the most professional. It’s painful, it’s annoying, it’s encroaching on everything else in life. Some kind of happy place! As for the desire to encourage people to write, can conquer it, use it in other places, in the daily life of husband and wife. Can go crazy, travel, crazy. Why not go crazy? Writing may be a form of torture, and once you start, you can’t get away with it.

On Female Writing

Q. You have claimed that women “know” more than men. Where did this understanding come from? Is it related to their silence?

Duras: Something to do with the silence they used to keep, yes, maybe. But you said here, I understand.

Q. Do you mean they do?

Duras: They understand. It’s terrible, what I’m saying to you. Is completely decisive. I’m sure we know what they don’t. They know, but they don’t. In English, to know and to understand are the same word, not two.

Q. Perhaps the oppressed always know better than the oppressors, because they need to know both the ruling class they are excluded from but depend on for their livelihood and something else, their own world. The oppressed know better, don’t they?

Duras: More. What you said did tell some facts, but I think it is not enough. This is a huge mystery to me, for many years I always constantly resist, is now forced to see this. Women know some men can’t understand completely. But this understanding is still in the stage of fantasy. May be just a sign of evolution. Now is the time for women, maybe, to let this understanding get to know, get-you know, that’s it, that’s all. But I still want to forgive men.

Q Individually, yes, of course.

Duras: Men create the same kind of literature. The only difference is women’s literature.

Q: When you mention “women’s literature,” do you mean literature written by women?

Duras: Yes, men say the same thing. Whether it’s government, department, all you want, theory, authority, university-everywhere is the same men. They can’t choose other way. It’s like a kinesia. They can no longer turn right, can’t turn left, can only follow in the footsteps of predecessors. And we women, we are not on the road.

Q. That road is off limits to us.

Duras: That’s it.

Q. So we took a different approach.

Duras: Yes. There is a risk, because many women writers tend to imitate men. In short, there is a risk. Or women will cease to exist, if they are just satisfied to replace men. But I think-from my personal experience-I think this tendency to masculinity, although very dangerous, but not alienate us. I think, I think, I’m not entirely sure, but I sincerely hope that this is the case. You see, me, I could have been a teacher, of course, any subject, math teacher, philosophy teacher, French teacher. I could be a lawyer, a woman politician, see, anything. But I didn’t. Very well. No. I don’t want to. These bring me happiness is not as good as place oneself in the jungle of writing, the savage state brings me happiness. For a long time, it is there, nothing can replace. As for now, the writer may be women. I saw it on TV: the best selling books are written by women. It’s very likely that there’s something new, you know, new about it.

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