Univ. of Rochester. 2013. 109p. tr. from French by Kazim Ali & Libby Murphy. ISBN 9781934824795. pap. $12.95. F
Translated into English for the first time since its publication in 1971, this surreal, compelling piece reimagines the characters and events of Duras's Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein. Day after day, three nameless characters walk the beach of the coastal town S. Thala, revisiting a pivotal moment from years past when one ("the traveler") abandoned another ("the woman"). The lack of internal dialog or thought leads to an emotional distance between the reader and the characters, while the almost nonexistent plot, sparse, fragmented syntax, and Dali-esque setting suggest an experimental film (indeed, the book was reworked for the screen as La Femme du Gange). However, Duras's use of repetition ("The steps resume. Uneven, hesitant. They resume. They stop again. Again resume.") keeps this work from seeming random or haphazard, adding a rhythm that both evokes the sea that surrounds these shadowy, cipherlike characters and imbues the book with a haunting, dreamlike tone. Despite the choppy sentence structure, the narrative is marked by lyrical language that emphasizes the significance of memory and feelings of longing, loss, and regret.
VERDICT Though seemingly impenetrable, this rich and intriguing title will reward readers willing to understand it within the context of Duras's other works.
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