Dallas's Reviews > The Lover

The Lover by Marguerite Duras
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U 50x66
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Mar 11, 2012

really liked it
Read in February, 2012

Fascination of the human psychology, the study of the inner workings of the mind, has always been prevalent for me. The very definition of our existence is defined by the sensory receptors that travel through and communicate within the brain. These exchanges make up our mind, our thoughts, and most significantly our memories. Memories, which are a biased perspective from their inception, ultimately tell the story of our lives. They are woven into our us and act as crossroads to our future. A memory might make all the difference in life choices. Memories, in all their fortitude, act as strong mirrors of our lives. Ones that can be manipulated, or worn though time, but their presence craft one’s own existence. And through this existence, nothing is true but everything is real.

Its this dichotomy that I describe the power of the mind through memories. One can undergo tremendous psychological trauma and regardless of how accurate the memory is, it is what’s remembered that sets in the deep scaring of our thoughts. These real symptoms of trauma, bleeding without a physical wound, can be regulated by means of medication, but it is through accessing these memories and living them, that one can find themselves, and accept the past as they remember it. Accepting is what Marguerite Duras had sought out to do.

“The Lover”, written by the aforementioned Mrs. Duras, is a novel that she uses to uncover her past in an attempt to expose these mental scars. Like a box of old photos, unorganized and scattered, Duras picks a memory on at a time and in no particular order, tells the reader about each photo.

Duras wipes the dust of an old picture, small but dear, a picture worn from use and describes the girl with the gold lame’ shoes in the photo with such a lively attachment. Another, a photo of her mother, she associates through another, as if this woman never had any relation to Duras. As she puts down the square stiff portrait, she picks another one up. This one, a pinup, she describes with love, but a carnal love one might find in a tender filet mignon. And so on, Duras leaves through this collection of memories, perhaps confusing the listener, but with purpose. Somewhere in this pile is the photograph she seeks. The one photo that she has been searching for her entire life to find again.

This method of writing scholars have accepted as exemplifying Duras’s feminist background, rejecting the male dominated form of linearity. But I feel this was not the intention, not initially at least. I see a woman scrabbling to find her existence, her memories in the only way she can. This is not a story that can be told with chapters, and cannot be shown chronological progression. This journey is one on the mental plane, and here time has no rules. Like the hero’s journey, she will reach the goal after overcoming challenges and ultimately diving deeper than she has done before. She was approximately 70 years old when she penned this novel, if anything an indication to the her reluctance to accepting the call. She dives into the belly of her mind, the point of no return. But in surfacing she leaves with a greater understanding and a strength she had not seen before. This hero may have departed on a rather unorthodox path, but it was the only path she could choose. When one is called to action, there are no terms in acceptance.

As I sat there, collecting my thoughts, I wondered what impact these dusty little photos had on me. I could parallel the psychological process she took in writing this book, or I could take it as an insight into the feminist mind. But for me, I saw a struggle this woman has been fighting with for so long, and this interaction was the point in her life when she finally understood it. Something I can relate to so personally, if only I could show Duras my photo album.
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