The Ravishing of Lol Stein
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The Ravishing of Lol Stein

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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,248 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Lol Stein is a beautiful young woman, securely married, settled in a comfortable life--and a voyeur. Returning with her husband and children to the town where, years before, her fiance had abandoned her for another woman, she is drawn inexorably to recreate that long-past tragedy.
Paperback, 181 pages
Published March 12th 1986 by Pantheon (first published 1964)
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The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupéryLes Misérables by Victor HugoThe Stranger by Albert CamusThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasMadame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Best French Literature
99th out of 463 books — 864 voters
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Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century
67th out of 100 books — 135 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,504)
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mark monday
Oct 11, 2012 mark monday rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to mark by: RBRS (Assignment #2)
so there's this chick Lol Stein, a real blank broad, gets ditched by her cougar-lovin' fiance. bitch goes crazy, but the quiet kinda crazy, the kinda crazy you keep to yourself. girl gets married to some musician type. years later, she's a mother of three, living in her old town, and she gets wrapped up in her hottie best friend's life. the best friend is busy giving it up to this prick, a dapper don who works with her husband at the local hospital. Lol gets obsessed with the douchebag. some bor...more
karen
nope. i do not like marguerite duras.

janet flanner, in the new yorker claims that her writing has a "shine like crystal." and that's probably true, if one is observing that it is as pointy and depthless as crystal, as chill and remote, as something that refracts emptily. ooooh duras BURN!!

if this is a literary bodice ripper, i gotta say i prefer the crappy contemporary ones. this one isn't even intense with the taut tingling of repression, which also has its place and is something i can appreci...more
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 04, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core
Reading this book is like sitting beside a sleepy tranquil lake on one lazy Sunday afternoon. You appreciate the serene surroundings, the chirping birds, the blowing gentle breeze, the scent of the trees mixed with the water. You then see a small boat docked by the lake side and decide to have do some rowing. Unknown to you, there is a lake “loch” monster silently stirring below the lake and at anytime will pop out the water and will eat you alive.

My first book by Marguerite Duras (1914-1996), a...more
Emir Never
The narrator of The Ravishing of Lol Stein, Jack Hold, is one of the predecessors of today's quintessential online gossip, deftly combining secondhand and direct eyewitness accounts with personal inventions, conjectures and, one suspects, lies. If he were a real person in this present graphomaniac world, he'd Twitter away, update his Facebook status regularly, post intimate pictures, shout out to the world the state of Lola Valerie Stein's well-being, including his own amorous exploits. He'd hav...more
Emily
I can feel a Marguerite Duras fixation coming on.

While fairly impressed with her late novel L'amant de la Chine du nord , I wasn't completely drawn into Duras's milieu until David and I watched Hiroshima mon amour, the 1959 Alain Resnais film for which she wrote the screenplay. To put it bluntly, Hiroshima mon amour blew. me. away. The opening sequence reduced me to sobs, overlaying Emmanuelle Riva's and Eiji Okada's stark, dreamlike narration (a stylized argument, which at times seems almost to...more
Keleigh
Duras’ writing is like taking a slow drug—something woozy and disorienting, a little foggy yet intensifying, slowing down time here, speeding it up there. Her style is fluid and incantatory; a hypnotic movement of memory and breath, a watercolor swirl of feelings on the surface of a lake that at first glance appears calm and neutral, but underneath something bubbles up, the premonition of a storm, and while reading I am waiting and waiting for that storm to break, for all the silt being churned...more
Algernon
An intriguing read, difficult to review because the story doesn't really follow narrative rules about plot progression or character motivations. I think this is deliberate on the part of the author because the subject is so intimate, so passionate and mysterious. Duras doesn't explain and doesn't analyze the love life of Lola V Stein, who may or may not be crazy. I suspect she is normal, as normal as anyone can be who has been deeply wounded in the first enthusiasm of young love and has chosen t...more
Evan
Tatiana Karl, Tatiana Karl, Tatiana Karl... Yes Marguerite, after the umpteenth iteration we know the character's full name by now...

I know charitable literary critics call this repetition of the various characters' full names an "incantation," but I call it a silly pretentious affect. I suppose it's part of Duras' strategy to convey the title character's obsession, which distills her ultimate happiness and sadness to a singular point in time where she has become emotionally and mentally growth...more
Shaherzad ahmadi
I feel bad giving this book a 3/5. The prose is lyrical and very experimental; I recognize this as an excellent book in style. However, in terms of the story itself... I wish I could say it matched her prose; and I wish I could say that her prose was fully developed so that the reader could at least follow her train of thought. Her style reminds me in some ways of James Joyce's, but unfortunately she is less skilled in relaying this type of disjointed stream of consciousness. I had to read parag...more
Cari
Jul 15, 2011 Cari rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Anyone. Absolutely anyone, it's that beautiful and haunting.
Recommended to Cari by: After reading "The Lover," I was desperate for more Duras.
This book has haunted me since I first read it three years ago. I remembered so well the feeling I had while reading this the first time, lethargic and removed from reality, as if a veil had fallen between myself and the rest of the world, the edges of everything having gone soft and blurry, and that same sensation came flooding back as I read a second time. Additionally, this second reading made me slightly restless, not from boredom but from a subtle anxiety emanating from the pages, growing m...more
Alexi
Jan 14, 2009 Alexi rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: women who feel like the voyeurs of life
duras is incredible. this book messed me up, in all sorts of brilliant ways. i love it. i tell everyone to read it. the prose is beautiful; the story is miserably familiar in strange ways. i think you'll like it.
Dawn
In a word: hypnotic. Yet also, startling. This was recommended to me by a creative writing professor I had in college, after reading a short story I wrote involving a female protagonist who was similar to Lol. There are moments when, as one reviewer said, Marguerite Duras puts such a spell on the reader with the way she uses language, that the reader almost feels "drugged". It's a haunting, erotic novel of intersecting characters driven by loss, obsession and voyeurism. Lol is shattered by a tra...more
Rosemary
I found this rather pretentious. The 'voice' reminded me of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which I really disliked. This was not so bad, and I can see how it was probably influential, being written in 1967. It kept me reading, I would have finished it even if I didn't have to for a book group, and it was an interesting story, so it gets 3 stars. But I didn't like the characters or the style of writing.

The translation that I read was titled 'The Rapture of Lol V. Stein' rather than the more c...more
Silver
This is a beautifully lyrical, haunting and somewhat bizarre little book which really does provide the reader with a very unique reading experince. I was spellbound by the story as it started to unweave itself.

One of the things which I found most intriguing about this book is the narration style of it. The story forced upon Lol Stein a woman who has a young girl was jilted by her fiancee and remained obsessed with that one moment in her life. Though to the outward eye she has moved on with her...more
Debra
1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die group read.

Reading this one for a group read. Why? I like torture? I don't know folks... yeah it's kinda dreamy and poetic, stream-of-consciousness writing... but it's boring. Does anything happen, I mean HAPPEN to these people? lol Ok... I'm going to finish it because I'm half-way through and it reads fast... but I'm yawning folks. Plus, I find I'm flipping back and forth trying to figure out who's saying what. Maybe something got lost in the translation,...more
Kelly
Sample paragraph: "Lol dreams of another time when the same thing that is going to happen would happen differently. In another way. A thousand times. Everywhere. Elsewhere. Among others, thousands of others who, like ourselves, dream of this time, necessarily. This dream contaminates me." The three-star rating is not for readability.
Phoenix Kaur
I would venture to suspect that this book has as-yet undiscovered profound implications for me on a personal level.

I read it twice years ago, in 1989, and again in 1997. Most recently, in 2011, I found my way to an essay upon, primarily this novel, but also Marguerite Duras' and Alain Renais' 1959 movie: "Hiroshima, Mon Amour". The essay was written by Emily, and it spiraled me into a place I was unsure of, but quite curious about.

I read the essay while processing what I had learned from the K...more
Rebecca
Tale of a woman who loses her sanity when rejected. Duras tends to eroticise consciousness. But, the distinction of madness is love.

"she had lived her early years as though she were waiting for something she might, but never did, become


Fräulein
Mon premier contact avec l'oeuvre de Marguerite Duras fut à travers "Le ravissement de Lol V.Stein". Un petit roman solitaire , délaissé, que je découvris en fouillant dans la bibliothèque de mes grands parents. Le titre me parut envoûtant. Et je fus conquise dès les premières lignes.. Le style d'écriture de Marguerite Duras est très hypnotisant, je trouve. C'est ce qui pourrait, en réalité, nous attacher à ses oeuvres ,jugées par la majorité des lecteurs très "ambigus", "flottants"... À mon avi...more
Patrick
Pretty good, I guess, but not quite as good as The Ravishing of ROTFLMAO Stein.
Chris
Not worth the read. I read it as part of the '1001 Books You Should Read in Your Life' group and finished this one having no idea why it was on the list. The writing was erratic and long winded without much really happening at all in the book. I can kind of see the whole idea of women's liberation in it when taking into account the fact that it was written in the 60's but not much was said, only vaguely implied. Lol's character was developed significantly but she is so strange and wishy washy wi...more
Kaycie Hall
Before this I had only read Duras's The Lover (and in English). We translated the first page or so of Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein in a French to English translation class I'm taking at the University of Paris, and it reawakened my interest in Duras. I love her writing style--direct and to the point, leaving little to the imagination (or maybe everything if you choose to think there's something deliberately left to curiosity).

I read this in French without the aid of a dictionary, and it's qui...more
Christa (More Than Just Magic)
May 12, 2011 Christa (More Than Just Magic) rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: People who like Lolita
Shelves: 1001-books, 2011
This review can also be found at Christa's Hooked on Books --> http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot...

Lol Stein is a jilted lover. In one night she watched her love, Michael Richardson fall into love with another right in front of her face. As her life adjusts from the shock she finds herself married, with children but never quite the same. When she finds herself back in her hometown she is reunited with her old friend Tatiana, the only other witness to Michael's bretryal. She finds herself...more
FrankH
Club Read

I agree with Michele that 'Ravishing' contains passages of expressive, poetic language but, for me, as a study of obsession and perhaps madness, the recursion and duality inherent in the major themes and the presentation do not completely cohere as artistic expression. Point of view is the start of the problem. Jack Hold's narrative, on the one hand, proceeds from the premise of providing a straight-up history of Lol Stein -- the heart-break of the abandonment by Richardson, the subsequ...more
Suzanne Moore
Ever since her fiance left her for an older woman at a dance that was supposed to be a preliminary wedding celebration, I think Lol Stein began “walking” through life as a voyeur. She has been seeing her world through eyes of a outsider. In other words she is physically present, but not fully aware or participating in living her life. Obviously she sinks into depression after being jilted. Months later she is presumably rescued by the man she will marry, but this marriage turns out to be a love...more
Tom
The writing of Marguerite Duras reminded me of movies such as 'Festen' and 'Melancholia'. It seems detached from reality, empty even, and the more you read, the more the whole book seems to disappear. 'Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein' is not an easy book to read, but it is a very strong intellectual stimulus. We are talking about an author who wrote a book that had a clear meaning, but then decided to scratch out all the words that assured some clarity.

We are talking about a character that is cal...more
Aaron (Typographical Era)
Who is the person behind the mystery voice that’s narrating The Ravishing of Lol Stein? That’s the first question that immediately comes to mind as you start reading this stunning experimental piece from Marguerite Duras. This person’s explanation of unfeeling Lol’s (short for Lola) past, as relayed to them by her best friend Tatiana Karl, seems to start off innocently enough, but then it quite jarringly takes a turn for strange when they basically call her out as a liar:


I no longer believe a wo
...more
Elise
There were a few nice turns of phrase here and the potential for developing the existential theme of how choice defines our humanity. However, none of these promising glimmers were ever fleshed out or developed in an interesting way. Rather, they were held out like an offering, a hand containing a possible treasure, but that hand turned out in the end to be empty. This book, with all of its teasing and empty promises left me feeling cold and empty as well. Duras' stark writing style initially en...more
Sonatajessica
Not really sure what went wrong here.
I found "The lover" sensual and atmospheric, I loved the all-over the place writing, the plot that is more an emotion than storytelling, it left a distinct impression on me; "The Ravishing of Lol Stein" was nothing but a bunch of empty and at times stupid phrases to me. No substance, no stirring on my senses.
It probably is too much to come with the expectation of having a similar good experience with this as I had with "The Lover" but I have a hard time under...more
Megan Chance
An interesting book. Engaging without being truly ... engaging, though I think I won't soon forget it. Some of the other reviewers call it dream-like, and I think that's true. It was rather like being in a dream, and it had that subtle and constant anxiety that wends through most dreams, so I was constantly off-balance, never quite settled in. Though it's not my favorite of Duras' work (so far, that would be "The Sea Wall"), I find Duras' style endlessly fascinating. I'm not entirely sure why. S...more
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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
More about Marguerite Duras...
The Lover Hiroshima mon amour Moderato cantabile The North China Lover The Malady of Death

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“That she had so completely recovered her sanity was a source of sadness to her. One should never be cured of one's passion.” 95 likes
“She had lived her early years as though she were waiting for something she might, but never did, become.” 81 likes
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