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Novelist, Marguerite Duras reads from "The Lover" and explains how she incorporated pieces of her childhood in Vietnam into her work.
Marguerite Duras was born in 1914 and grew up in French Indochina. Her mother was widowed and the family was poor. Her mother lived a life of exile and often sank into despair and despondency.
Duras spoke Vietnamese like a native and grew up alongside them. She wrote of the dire poverty of the Vietnamese in her early novel, "The Sea Wall." Too many children were born and many died.
Duras' perception of the world's injustice was shaped by the corruption of colonial officials. Her mother spent her life savings to buy a piece of land, but the land they gave her was worthless.
"The Lover" is based upon Duras' love affair with a Vietnamese man at age 15. Duras describes the room where her love affair took place as feeling very exposed yet keeping her concealed within.
The theme of an affair which breaks society's rules and brings disgrace upon the family is a theme that reoccurs throughout Duras' works, noticeably in "The Lover" and "Hiroshima Mon Amour."
The origins of many of the themes of Duras' works lie in her earliest childhood. She recognized that in life, love and violence were often connected through the contrasting natures of her brothers.
Through her older brother's brutality and through the Nazi occupation of France, Duras came to understand the nature of oppression. Politically and personally she identifies the evil of mankind.
Duras' attitude towards sexual relations in her writing is affected by her relationships with her brothers, yet she did not recognize her sexual attraction to them until her own sexual awakening.
Duras recognizes the destructive power of desire through the story of the local administrator's wife who drove her young lover to suicide and becomes a social outcast, something Duras identifies with.
In her 1975 film, "India Song," Duras conveys a sense of events long past through recording the soundtrack separately from the film. She calls her super-imposed dialogue the "voice off."
"India Song" tries to reclaim something from death. In its complement, "Her Venetian Name in Calcutta Desert," Duras uses the same soundtrack with different, more striking footage.
Duras ends the affair in "The Lover" through a physical separation and as the steamer carries her to France she realizes that through ending the affair and her brother's death her childhood is lost.
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