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PN Review 276
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This report is taken from PN Review 43, Volume 11 Number 5, May - June 1985.

Letter from Paris James Woodall
It is the season of literary prizes. Much has been made of the awarding of the Prix Goncourt, the most coveted prize of all, to Marguerite Duras for her latest novel, L'Amant. Duras, now seventy, non-alcoholic, certainly no relic, has been stirring up considerable interest in recent months in areas not related to her fiction. She appeared on 'Apostrophes', French television's relatively new and only literary programme. Her laconic manner sharply divided opinion over her re-emergence into the public eye. Many of her films are being shown in Paris cinemas. Her play Savannah Bay is currently running in Barrault's theatre, Le Rond Point, with Madeleine Renaud in the leading role (she is also appearing in Beckett's Compagnie in a smaller studio at the same theatre). Hiroshima mon amour has been adapted for the stage and is enjoying a long run at Le Lucernaire.

An autumn revival, then, of the grand lady of modern French fiction-though 'fiction' is an imprecise description of the autobiographical and gracefully moving L'Amant. Published by Editions de Minuit (home of the Nouveau Roman and Samuel Beckett) and now a best-seller, this brief and superbly controlled account of Duras's adolescence in French Indo-China and first affair with 'un Chinois de Cholon' shows no decline in her powers as an elegiac chronicler of lost worlds and opportunities. Its success with the Goncourt jury was unexpected, since it did not come from Gallimard, Grasset or Le Seuil, those prize-laden imprints. Objections have been raised to so celebrated and ...


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