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Four Novels: The Square / Moderato Cantabile / 10:30 on a Summer Night / The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas
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Four Novels: The Square / Moderato Cantabile / 10:30 on a Summer Night / The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  331 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In this volume of four short novels, Duras demonstrates her remarkable ability to create an emotional intensity and unity by focusing on the intimate details of the relationships among only a few central characters.
Paperback, 303 pages
Published January 28th 1965 by Grove Press: Evergreen Black Cat Books (first published 1965)
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(showing 1-30 of 610)
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Nate D
May 05, 2014 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who wait in contemplation of something they may be unable to act upon
Recommended to Nate D by: in parallel with the Spectacle film series
Taken all together these early-mid Duras novels express her ability to render a kind of charged stillness, where much of the action and the prime tensions and relevances remain off camera or even entirely unexpressed. Individual reviews under the various book pages. The middle too are immaculate, the other two are more or less supporting material, at least relatively speaking.

The Square (an introductory dialogue)
Moderato Cantabile (unresolved tensions)
10:30 on a Summer Night (climax/explosion)
THE SQUARE- This novel follows a conversation between a man and a woman on a bench in a park. They talk about their lonely ways, and each seems to taunt the other, daring the other to break their patterns and habits. It could be seen as a symbol for the nature of romance. You want to be with one another to escape the loneliness, and yet a part of you still clutches on to that singular identity. It is a short meditative reflection on the psychological underpinnings of everything we say to one ano ...more
Eric Cartier
This entire collection was engrossing, but "Moderato Cantabile" and "10:30 on a Summer Night" are great short novels. They put me in mind of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Anne Porter's work, with a sort of psychological intensity wrapped up in elegant sentences and a sense of doom. I'm glad I picked up a copy of this Grove Press gem on a whim, and I'll certainly read more of Duras' work.
Megan Chance
Haunting, lovely, restrained, full of unresolved tensions. Duras is a master when it comes to writing emotional truths, and letting the reader make the discovery on his own. Each of these stories, in a different way, leaves one feeling uncomfortable and unappeased. Each of them I've been thinking about since I read them.
I love Marguerite Duras' writing style, but these stories had some problems.

The Square is super boring. It is basically like a play - it is 2 people sitting on a park bench being boring and repeating themselves for a bunch of pages. The woman sounds crazy and the guy sounds fairly normal.

Moderato Cantabile is beautifully written. The relationship between the mother and child is clear and wonderful. However, there is a lot of "between the lines" stuff going on between the mom and her lover that
lucy by the sea
Read ten thirty on a summer night last night with all the windows open and summer smells drifting in. It is beautiful.
Laura Ellen
The most formative collection I've ever read.
Introduction is disposable; hardly relevant when so much more scholarship on Duras has occurred--also the shape her career ended up taking kind of crushes what's said, but this is all retrospective I suppose.

Commentary within individual titles:

Le square
Moderato cantabile
Dix Heures et demie du soir en été
The Afternoon of Mr Andesmas - 6/17/2014
The shortest book in this volume, taking place entirely in two parts on a single afternoon. Reality builds under the surface of a complacent sense of aging
After reading Annie Ernaux’ Simple Passion, I read somewhere that that book was similar to Marguerite Duras’ The Lover. So, I thought I should read The Lover sometime. Recently while thinking of new French novels to buy, I discovered that there was an omnibus edition which had four of Marguerite Duras’ novels in it – The Square, Moderato Cantabile, 10:30 on a Summer Night and The Afternoon of Mr.Andesmas. Four novels in one book – how can one resist it? One of my friends had also recommended Mod ...more
Laura  Yan
I'm realizing now that Duras is like the precursor to Elena Ferrate. The same intensity and sense of obsession, the same interest in a set of themes. Duras is interested in betrayal, in longing, in the spaces in between, in the allure of the unsaid, of the lack of fulfillment, in mystery. These are super moody and gripping stories. I love the visual details she uses. I think the intro described them as cinematic--which seems apt. Duras may also be the mater of sexual tension. Love.
Of the four novels, all were beautifully written. I lover her style. Two I thought were moderately interesting stories: The Square, and Moderat Cantabile. One was absolutely fabulous: 10:30 on a Summer Night. And one I didn't finish, a real sleeper: The afternoon of Mr. Andesmas.

10:30 on a Summer Night is the story of a woman who, in a single night, watches her husband's interest leave her for a younger woman. At the same time, the police are scouring the town for a man who has murded his wife
Best known as the screenwriter of "Hiroshima Mon Amour", these novellas by Marguerite Duras all have a feeling about them of being a screenplay rather like that one. Characters talk endlessly in a slightly detached way, and pages go by of alternating lines without even a "he said" or "She said" appended so it is easy to lose track of who is actually speaking. All four stories capture a small number of characters, 2-4, in a limited time frame (anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks) ...more
The Square - 2 stars
Moderato Cantabile - 4 stars
10.30 on a Summer Night - 5 stars
The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas - 3 stars

Overall - 3.5 stars
Book Group is spending time in French post-war literature. Admittedly, I was skeptical about French lit, but was pleasantly surprised by The Square. While only a conversation lasting a couple of hours, Duras danced with words. 10:30 on a Summer Night was interesting but a little more what I was expecting - emotional, dark, lovers...French.
Read on airplane a couple months ago, so hard to remember. First one pretty good, other three much better. Second and third seemed based on similar concepts. Each one gets engrossing pretty quickly once begun. Skipped the preface then came back to its write-ups on the stories after finishing each one.
Absolutely breathtaking. 10:30 on a Summer Night is worth the price alone. The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas is one of those brilliant stories you will be thinking about long after you've finished reading. Moderato Cantabile is beautiful and, very simply, heartbreaking.
I'd give two of these stories 4 stars (Moderato Cantabile and 10:30 on a Summer Night) 3 starts to The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas and 2 stars to The Square - so overall 3 stars. These are not connected in any way so you can pick and choose which you'd like to read. Introduction is very good.
Beautiful and strang; deeply attuned to setting and the unreal and pressing passage of time, often cyclical and with small, shattering variations; disembodied and punctuated by raw, unflinching music and grief.
Debra Blasi
Sep 08, 2007 Debra Blasi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas, in particular, was a brilliant experiment in the concept of space/time in literature. And written before theoretical physics became more mainstream.
lots to unpack re: Duras' relationship with/attitude towards blonde women! can't decide between Moderato Cantabile or 10:30 On A Summer Night as the favorite.
I'm rating this based on the short story, 10:30 on a Summer Night. Duras makes excellent use of setting to describe the internal dynamics of the protagonist.
"Moderato Cantabile" is one of the best short stories I've read. Just riveting. Her writing style is amazing.
I learned why we really travel, and why we are consumerists by nature.

thanks Marguerite!
Hot, hot, hot. Each story is truly different but all great.
Jodi B.
10:30 on a summer night is pure prose gorgeousness
Rating based on the story "10:30 on a Summer Night."
my probably first book from MD. very important.
Moderato Cantabile deserves 5 stars.
Sep 16, 2009 Carol is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
So far, I'm absolutely entranced.
Kate S
Kate S marked it as to-read
Nov 22, 2015
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Marguerite Donnadieu, better known as Marguerite Duras (pronounced [maʀgəʁit dyˈʁas] in French) (April 4, 1914 – March 3, 1996) was a French writer and film director.

She was born at Gia-Dinh, near Saigon, French Indochina (now Vietnam), after her parents responded to a campaign by the French government encouraging people to work in the colony.

Marguerite's father fell ill soon after their arrival,
More about Marguerite Duras...

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