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The Lover (The Lover #1)

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3.75  ·  Rating details ·  25,169 Ratings  ·  1,706 Reviews
Set in the prewar Indochina of Marguerite Duras’s childhood, this is the haunting tale of a tumultuous affair between an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover. In spare yet luminous prose, Duras evokes life on the margins of Saigon in the waning days of France’s colonial empire, and its representation in the passionate relationship between two unforgettable outcasts ...more
Paperback, 117 pages
Published September 8th 1998 by Pantheon (first published September 1st 1984)
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Claudia What I liked most in this book is how the author describes some parts, such as the ferry ride across the river or when her mother washed the house.…moreWhat I liked most in this book is how the author describes some parts, such as the ferry ride across the river or when her mother washed the house. She seemed to paint a picture in these parts. Also I liked the pain and love in the relationship between the girl and her lover, a love that could not be experienced with all its drama.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
***AWARDED THE 1984 PRIX GONCOURT***

“The story of my life doesn’t exist. Does not exist. There’s never any centre to it. No path, no line. There are great spaces where you pretend there used to be someone, but it’s not true, there was no one.”


 photo Marguerite_Duras_zpse0gigo7l.jpg
The young Marguerite Duras

She has pretty hair, copper hair that spools down her back in waves of alluring movement. People always comment on how beautiful her hair is which she interprets to mean that they don’t find her pretty.

She cuts her hair off.

She
...more
Lizzy
I opened the first page of Marguerite DurasThe Lover, and there she was, the girl with no name with all her ancient reminiscences. I heard her voice as if it were inside my head, Very early in my life it was too late. It was already too late when I was eighteen. How did you get there, my friend? Or should I call you my sister, since from the beginning I discovered we shared anguishes and most certainly a great multitude of passions and dreams?

We both were introduced to this world by tortured
...more
Dolors
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: The ones who love and the ones who don't
Shelves: read-in-2015
Who is “L’amant”(*)? The characters in this story are nameless. A puzzle of personal pronouns draws an anonymous canvas that perspires with alienation and the dense humidity of a foreign land, that mourns the loss of youth and innocence, that invokes the image of photographs never taken, the sound of words never uttered and the mirage of a future that never existed. Only the condensed ardour that clouds up the windows of a small hotel room, where two slippery bodies abandon themselves to contort ...more
karen
i found myself utterly muted by this book, which is problematic because the book club meets this friday, and they aren't going to be so dazzled by my bruschetta that i can get away with just hiding behind the tiny jewess and drinking their wine. so i have to think of something.

consulting the "reading group handbook" by rachel w. jacobsohn, bought for my final school assignment, i learn how to think about literature:

characters and story line: young french girl, older chinese man falling into bed
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Desire

The first time ever I saw your face was on the ferry.

I had my head buried in a copy of the South China Morning Post. My father had said, if I read it every day, I would learn about the world around us, and his boy would become a man. Only then would I be ready to take over the family business after him.

He was right, in his way. I was thin and soft and naïve, even though I had just returned from two years in Paris. I was still a boy, at 28. I’m sure I would have continued as a boy, unless I
...more
Steven  Godin
A world away from the intelligence insulting and glorified trash of E. L. James, Marguerite Duras has written a sparse, minimal and painfully sad erotic love story that never gets drawn into the realms of romantic fantasy.
And to deeply appreciate 'The Lover', it needs to be looked at from the perspective of Duras herself. Pen was put to paper when she was 70, it's predominantly all about looking back on memories past, and I say it's a painful read, painful in respects to nostalgia, as nostalgia
...more
Vessey
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Vessey by: Jeffrey
Shelves: romance, 4-stars, erotica
Desire. Is it pleasure or pain? Can and should we try to control it? To trust it? To understand it? Do we shape our desires or do they shape us? What part of us is desire? Is it the purest and deepest aspect of human nature? Where does it come from? Can a desire on its own be vile or virtuous or only actions are bound to be judged? How much do we know about our desires and where do they lead us? What brings two people together? What brings together a French girl and Chinese man twelve years olde ...more
Samadrita
Something dark and deeply unsettling simmers angrily beneath the surface of this narrative. This 'something' becomes so potent a force, arousing fear and feelings of disgust in the reader, that one is often tempted to abandon reading and save oneself from all the unpleasantness Duras shoves right in the reader's face without inhibitions.

'The Lover' is a brutally honest attempt at reconciliation with the past, irrespective of how much hurt and damage it may have caused. It is a tale of Marguerite
...more
Praj
Apr 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: md
Dearest Marguerite,

I know it is awfully late now, to write to you. I could not resist though. I thought about you the other day; as her eyes scanned the Chinese gentleman for the first time, on the ferry to Mekong. The demure young features veiled under a mannish hat, gave away precocious impression of a 15 year old girl as he offered her a cigarette. The statuesque Chinaman who exuded charm and eloquence was besotted by her as she was by him. He was to be her lover; an escape from the abhorrent
...more
Duane
When I picked this book up I was drawn to the haunting picture of the girl on the cover, which turns out to be Marguerite Duras, the author. After reading I'm thinking, I can't believe this book is not more prominent in the mainstream of modern literature. It's a French novel, beautifully written, and set in early 20th century French Colonial Indochina, primarily Vietnam. It's the story of a 15 year old French girl and her affair with an older man, a wealthy Chinese. The girl is an outcast in he ...more
Aubrey
The light fell from the sky in cataracts of pure transparency, in torrents of silence and immobility. The air was blue, you could hold it in your hand. Blue. The sky was the continual throbbing of the brilliance of the light. The night lit up everything, all the country on either bank of the river as far as the eye could reach. Every night was different, each one had a name as long as it lasted. Their sound was that of the dogs, the country dogs baying at mystery. They answered one another from
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
252. L'Amant = The Lover, Marguerite Duras
The Lover (French: L'Amant) is an autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras, published in 1984 by Les Éditions de Minuit. It has been translated to 43 languages and was awarded the 1984 Prix Goncourt. It was adapted to film in 1992 as The Lover. Set against the backdrop of French colonial Vietnam, The Lover reveals the intimacies and intricacies of a clandestine romance between a pubescent girl from a financially strapped French family and an older, wea
...more
Manny
L'Amant looks simple on the surface. Marguerite Duras, about 70 when she wrote it, tells you about her first affair, with a rich Chinese man. She was a fifteen year old girl in colonial-era Vietnam, he was a dozen years older. Her family was desperately poor. Her mentally ill mother tacitly condoned the relationship; Marguerite's lover was generous, and they needed the money. Then she screamed at her daughter and beat her. The language is plain, unadorned and impersonal, stripped to its bare ess ...more
Sue
Now I know why several friends have mentioned that this book has special meaning for them. I've never had a reading experience quite like this. A woman writing from her older years about her teenage experiences in Viet Nam with her Chinese lover, but also with her family. And also of her experience of Viet Nam itself--the natural world, the skies and trees and people, and customs both strange and familiar.

The book is an experiential wonder, slipping between past and present, the concrete observ
...more
Fabian
Sep 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novella must ALWAYS make a deep impact. Hell, the writer did not think that more was necessary so whatever is there MUST be genius. "The Lover" is heartfelt, autobiographical, strange. The titular Chinese man is not even the focus: it is the brother and how his selfishness dooms the entire family. "L'amant" is about two people coming together in lust/love for only a moment... in solice or absolution. I like "adult" books but this one has the voice of a single victim in a long, sad tradition of ...more
Robin
This is a thin novella, but do not expect an easy read. Though translated from the original French, you will experience an almost immediate halt, like you are reading something in a different language. And you are. It is the language of dreams. It is also the language of recollection. It does not flow in a typical fashion: it dips you in a moment then pulls you out just as you are getting used to the temperature of the water. It plunges you into another time and place, emoting a feeling out of c ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: sex, french
Probably the most famous among the many brilliant works of Marguerite Duras (1914-1996), The Lover (French: L’Amant) is based on her actual experience while living in Vietnam during her teen years. Published in 1984, this autobiographical novel has been translated to 43 languages, awarded the 1984 Prix Goncourt and was turned into a movie in 1992 starring Jane March as the 15-1/2-y/o French girl Duras and Tony Leung as 17-y/o Chinese Man.
thelover
Yes, the novel (as well as the movie where the scene ab
...more
Linda Wells
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Marguerite Duras has written the remarkable story of her childhood love affair with a wealthy older man, who happened to be Chinese. Their tumultuous love affair took place in pre-war Saigon in 1929. The book is written with exquisite language expressing perfectly the powerful emotions of the innocent girl as she experiences first love with an exotic and loving older man.

The young French girl faces disgrace on many levels. She is no longer respected because of the illicit affair; the fact that
...more
Mary
Apr 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2012, france
The book is like being trapped inside a deep and disturbing dream on a stifling hot summer night. A dream steeped in melancholy and half memories and you wake up choking. Is it Duras' writing style or the translation that creates the sparse atmosphere, the jumping around from present to memory to thoughts to...I'm not sure exactly what. But it worked so beautifully, so tragically.

Early in the book Duras writes about her mother in a way that did something to me. I found myself tearing up, my hear
...more
May
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: estantería
Una novela increíble: dura, real, cercana y luchadora.
Me ha encantado. Duras pasa a ser todo un referente.
Janet
Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved the strangeness of this woman's interior, her voice, the way such a slim volume can sum up an entire life, compelling and erotic and intellectual all at once.
******************
rereading... it's like craving a certain great dish and you know just who has it on the menu.

Such assurance. I like the way Duras handles the point of view. It begins with an older voice, a woman looking back at her life, a particular moment of her life, and she uses the past tense, whereas when she is in the past
...more
Scarlett
« Je n’ai jamais écrit, croyant le faire, je n’ai jamais aimé, croyant aimer, je n’ai jamais rien fait qu’attendre devant la porte fermée.* »

(I’ve never written, though I thought I wrote, never loved, though I thought I loved, never done anything but wait outside the closed door.)


Opening the pages of Marguerite Duras’s delicate and tiny self-portrait tinged with profound nostalgia and detached melancholy feels like being invited on a private talk, almost a confession. The intimacy of her stra
...more
Karen
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
A little book about an intense, illicit affair between a 15 yr old poor white girl and a wealthy 27 year old Chinese man.
Duras writes a very atmospheric novella here..
I liked it
Stela
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Followed by an English version

J’ai lu quelque part que Julia Kristeva avertissait les lecteurs d’un équilibre mental fragile de ne pas lire les œuvres de Marguerite Duras, parce qu’elles pourraient les amener près de l’expérience de la folie. Et que « L’amant », de ce point de vue, ne serait que l’histoire de la folie gothique de la mère de la narratrice, à laquelle cette dernière essaie de s’échapper en effaçant son image.
L’hypothèse est séduisante, mais elle ne couvre qu’une partie de ce mini
...more
Barry Pierce
In a novel that is oft compared to Nabokov's Lolita, Duras writes a beautiful autobiographical tale of love and youth. The narrator recalls her youth when she, at fifteen, enters a relationship with Chinese man in his late twenties. Duras' prose gushes with life and verve. Her narrator seems almost omnipresent as she describes her family, her youth, and her travels. This is a resplendent little one-sitting novel that flutters in your hands.
Ben Loory
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
fragmented, drab, and full of unpleasant people. had a nice part about a hat though.
Loederkoningin
It appears as though Duras has entrusted her memories to paper in an involuntary attempt to come clean: in essence this is a fascinating story. I realize what an intriguing experience this must have been for her. As a reader however, I felt like being provided with mere glimpses of a rich and interesting biography. Duras' memories you must color with your own imagination. You need to speculate, in order to fill in the gaps, the details the authors sparse prose does not offer.

If anything, this w
...more
MJ Nicholls
If you like lyrical romantic prose in staccato sentences, written in the literariest of all literary styles, this is the novella for you. If you don’t, this isn’t the novella for you. Me, I’ve read this story a million times before. Goodnight March.
Rita
Nota sobre esta edição: Acho que iam caindo os olhos a um senhor (já com alguma idade) quando viu a capa do livro que eu estava a ler, sejamos sinceros, esta capa é bastante ousada.

"O Amante" foi o primeiro livro de Marguerite Duras que li. Pelo que li, percebi que a história deste romance tem muitos paralelismos com a vida da autora, não sendo, no entanto, nítida a fronteira entre a realidade e a ficção.

"Nas histórias dos meus livros que se referem à minha infância, não sei mais o que evitei di
...more
B the BookAddict
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Jeffrey Keeten



Our first sexual relationship, whether emotive or merely physical, is so powerful that it is remembered from that very first moment until the end of our days.

It may serve to guide us to future lovers; it may fulfil and satisfy us immediately; while others may yearn for that same feeling for the rest of their lives.

I, too, read The Lover to be Marguerite Duras writing about herself. 4★
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Goodreads Librari...: cover of l'amant 1 17 Aug 29, 2015 06:16PM  
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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...

Other Books in the Series

The Lover (2 books)
  • The North China Lover

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“Very early in my life it was too late.” 527 likes
“Suddenly, all at once, she knows, knows that he doesn't understand her, that he never will, that he lacks the power to understand such perverseness. And that he can never move fast enough to catch her.” 198 likes
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