Duras, etc.

June 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

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Jane Winston, “Marguerite Duras: Marxism, Feminism, Writing” in Theatre Journal (Vol. 47, No. 3, Oct 1995)

I was reading Marguerite Duras’ The Lover again a few weeks ago. It’s so weird, how political this book is, in its exploration of white femininity and colonialism and poverty. Weird because appreciation of The Lover, or criticism of it, tends to depoliticise the book—it’s often reduced to generalised descriptions of “female desire” or “love” when the crucial thing about The Lover is how her desire and her gaze is refracted through poverty; her poverty shapes it and give it its energy. How the gaze is that of a poor woman, but also that of a white French woman in colonial Indochina. Poor colonial women among the natives. How that makes of also a monster of sorts, and not through her own making. Sour maternal love and the regime of brotherhood and property-less girls and relations shaped and defined by a cold colonialist-capitalist logic, the relation with her lover that both mirrored that logic and exceeded it.

Winston writes, “there was nothing really revolutionary about the claim that the desire and sexuality at issue in Duras are ‘feminine’.”

There really isn’t. That’s why it’s that claim that has gotten the most traction.

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§ 2 Responses to Duras, etc.

  • sharanyam says:

    aha, now THERE’s a review of The Lover that makes me want to read it. Crazy how people depoliticize desire the second it’s about women, no? Because lusty women itself makes for such a crazy revolutionary thought in people’s minds. I think. Not sure how such assumptions work.

    My intro (and conclusion, haha) to Duras has been that Resnais film, whatsitsname, Hiroshima Mon Amour. I have crazy complex feels about that but you can never forget the fact that she’s a white woman feeling things about hiroshima in that film. And all people take away is OMG the SEX and that GLORIOUS opening scene (it is glorious in a perverse way but don’t forget the perverse). Anyway, hi, I miss you much, please write-write more.

    • Subashini says:

      I know! It’s a great essay, and I was so much more curious about Duras’s political affiliations (and her Marxism) after I read it. I’ve been a bit frustrated about a lot of talk about “female desire” or whatever after reading some of the reviews for Katherine Angel’s book, Unmastered. I just … bahhhhh. I owe you an email (I’m sorry, I’m sorry) and perhaps will explain better there? (ALSO, HI, I LOVE SEEING YOU HERE)

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