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3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,915 ratings  ·  177 reviews
Written in the splendid bareness of her late style, these pages are Marguerite Duras's theory of literature: comparing a dying fly to the work of style; remembering the trance and incurable disarray of writing; recreating the last moments of a British pilot shot during World War II and buried next to her house; or else letting out a magisterial, so what? To question six de ...more
Paperback, 91 pages
Published May 6th 1999 by Brookline Books (first published September 15th 1993)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  1,915 ratings  ·  177 reviews

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A rather slight piece containing what appears to be some of the thoughts floating about in Duras' head on the subject of writing, circa 1993. These tend to take the form of short paragraphs or single lines, though two at least become vignettes and "chapters" of a sort. Overall, the work gives the impression of the sort of notes you might write when preparing to give a speech where you want just the right phrase- attacking and re-attacking a single idea from different angles.

At first, Duras' thou
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Uhhhhhh. I didn't get it but the prose was hypnotic nonetheless. ...more
Po Po
Jan 30, 2015 rated it liked it
I borrowed this from the library expecting it to be entirely about a single subject: writing. It isn't. There are five chapters; each chapter is a stand-alone story.

The first chapter titled "Writing" is by far my favorite. It's beautiful and calming. It discusses the process of writing and its intimate connection with solitude.

Writers crave solitude, yet "there is something suicidal in a writer's solitude."

* * *

The second chapter is about a young British pilot who tragically dies at the age of 2
This collection includes five short pieces, of which I was most interested in Writing. In fact, I initially thought that the whole book was about writing, so that was slightly disappointing, albeit my own fault. What was more seriously disappointing was the collection itself, which really wasn't as interesting or as good as I had expected it to be. Only Writing was worth reading, if I'm honest, and even that only had its moments, with an occasional passage that stood out. Perhaps if I had previo ...more
I'm not exaggerating when I say that this book is my Bible. I think every writer should read it, especially if you are someone who writes in a more literary style or in an experimental and unconventional style. I also recommend "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke. Both of these books have been essential to my own awakening and evolution as a writer. ...more
Leah Moloney
My first proper book to have completed in French!! Have tried multiple times but has been to tough /haven’t chosen the right stuff. This was short so was more manageable and also had no passé simple which I’ve only recently been learning. Hoping to incorporate more French into my reading cos I got a loooot of vocab to learn.
Gry Ranfelt
Oct 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
If I could give it zero stars, I would. this is some of the most pointless, incoherent stuff I've ever read. to boot, it's not interesting, so it's just a tumble of words. If this is indeed the way she thinks/thought, I'm exasperated.
She keeps going over her topics in circles, repeating things over and over.
And no, I really don't think I'm being too harsh. this woman is a hypocrite and a mysogonistic feminist. How can one be a mysogonistic feminist? By thinking "women are useless, but not me, I'
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction14
Beautiful, profound. I read this very very slowly. The pace and the tone were more akin to poetry than prose. There was a great sense of wisdom throughout - clearly Duras is a woman who thinks with great care and passion and continues employing those as she tries to write to express her findings and feelings to others. I wrote down lots of quotes.
Jun 03, 2018 rated it liked it
The first chapter took my breath away. It was interesting to explore the author’s thoughts on writing but the rest - second, third, fourth and fifth- were mostly incoherent and somehow chaotic thoughts and dialogues..
Steve Turtell
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
I didn't jump on the Duras bandwagon in the wake of the astonishing success of The Lover, primarily because of her connection with the Nouveau roman, which I find tedious and pretentious. In grad school I had to read Robbe-Grillet's For A New Novel and hated its combination of the obvious and the tautological masquerading as profundity. To wit: In one of the essays he states that it is "chiefly in its presence that the world's reality resides." Gee. You don't say! Let me write that down! And whe ...more
Nate D
Oct 08, 2018 marked it as read-in-2018
Along with Practicalities, the title essay that makes up much of this book is an essential self-reflection on Duras' work and process. The others, flickeringly intriguing, sometimes feel a little out-of-context (I believe several, including Writing itself, are transcripts of Duras' words in various film pieces?). ...more
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Writing by Marguerite Duras seems to be about COVID-19 lockdown. It's about loneliness that can equate to madness, about storing food in a storage room during the war and about silence and the unnoticeable sounds that break the silent and break the absolute loneliness.

The book consists of five essays, each one of which focuses on a moment, an emotion, an action or a place that is important to the author. It is written in the typical Duras style with short and tangible sentences. There is lots of
Dec 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Some really insightful pieces but occasionally hard to piece together and follow.
Elizabeth Periale
Oct 02, 2011 rated it liked it

"Writing is a stream of consciousness collection of essays by French author and film director Marguerite Duras, best known for her novel The Lover and her screenplay for the film Hiroshima Mon Amour.
One of her last books, Writing reads as a running meditation on the act of writing. She touches on the many subjects, especially death, that have compelled her to write. As much as she directs some of her prose to the reader, the essays quite often seem like Du
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Ahhhh. Lovely writing. Lyrical, emotionally poignant observations on writing. And then she goes on to show how it's done in the heart-jerking story that follows her essay on writing, "The Death of the Young British Pilot." Small in stature, hard to get, but this book is worth each word. ...more
Mar 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
"Pure" writing..."pure" thoughts..."screaming without a sound." ...more
Libre Livre
Fantastic companion read, especially the first and last essay. The first is on writing and the latter I can only describe as a breath of all we cannot know.

Read this is French if you can. Une merveille.
I only wantet to read the title essay. I liked it a lot.
Apr 03, 2020 rated it liked it
"Writing" was great; the others? Meh. ...more
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I have solitude but I don't have whiskey I don't have a garden I don't have a large house in Neauphle but I have a desk I have a choice on how to use my time and often I don't use it to write but I write things repetitive things so tedious and torturous that in the margins is my own impatient sarcastic voice trying to draw a spiral to tear a hole through the page to escape the hell out of there (solitude) and fuck punctuation marks except for the exclamation ! No I did not really *love* this but ...more
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"One is never alone. One is never physically alone.
Anywhere. One is always somewhere."

"Around us, everything is writing; that’s what we must finally perceive. Everything is writing."

"It is in a house that one is alone. Not outside it, but inside.
Outside, in the garden, there are birds and cats.
And also, once, a squirrel, and a ferret. One isn’t alone in a garden. But inside the house, one is so alone that one can lose one’s bearings."

"Finding yourself in a hole, at the bottom of a hole, in almos
Len Toomey
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fragments and ideas. Half-scrawls. Fluid images, reflected through memory. Solitary longings. Solitary joys. Small sacred spaces vast in horizon and sweep. Tears in the prose where the light seeps through. Full of interest, full of love.
Oct 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: about_writing
I love this little book on writing. Love it!
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
love the way she experiences life and the way she brings the way she has experienced life onto the page, into the words.
love her words, love her voice, love her pain, love her love.
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Relentlessly oblique and intimidating. The most impractical book on writing I have ever read. Its fragmentary structure is actually the most accessible thing about it. A writer like Duras could never come out of the American literary tradition, because American writers work with a certain cultural imperative always on their horizon: the imperative to write something that people want to read, want to consume, and from which they derive some kind of enjoyment that makes life more bearable, if not ...more
Jeff Lewonczyk
Aug 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Mental illness aside, I believe there's a certain type of fiery eccentricity, brought upon by choice or circumstance, that can only be called "crazy." It's often used as a pejorative, but it can also be a sign of power, of clarity, of unwillingness to take the world at face value. This is the first time I've read anything by Duras, and, by the definition I just put forth, it turns out she is CRAZY.

I had picked this up because of some intriguing quotes from the title essay that I'd read elsewher
Madeline Puckett
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing

There is a lot happening in this small volume on writing by Marguerite Duras. Her description of the suffering, the solitude, and the lack of control a writer has over the writing process was very profound.

The person who writes books must always be enveloped by a separation from others. That is one kind of solitude. It is the solitude of the author, of writing.

I happen to agree that in order to write, one must be alone. Or, if one cannot be physically alone, one must be able to create emoti
Vel Veeter
Mar 23, 2020 rated it liked it
This is the kind of book that on its own is a relative weak set of narrative and impressionistic essays, but were you to be taking a class in Duras, would be a really interesting set of insights into her process. The opening essay is about all the ways in which a writer is, and I imagine plenty of it wrings true, but it’s not structured as a guide or even a “my story” kind of piece, but almost a matter of fact kind of insight into the being of writing.

The other essays in the collection are more
Cherise Wolas
A very slim collection of essays, or perhaps essayistic-stories, in which Duras shares her writer preoccupations with the distance between life and writing, and the contradiction between writing and silence. These fives pieces, each unique, often poetic, at times confessional, are elliptically all of those things. This is not a primer on how to write, but one writer's meditations on her own act of writing. In these essays, she considers the death of a fly, the death of a 20-year-old British pilo ...more
Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"To be without the slightest subject for a book, the slightest idea for a book, is to find yourself, once again, before a book. A vast emptiness. A possible book."

"I think that what I blame books for, in general, is that they are not free. One can see it in the writing: they are fabricated, organized, regulated; one could say they conform. A function of the revision that the writer often wants to impose on himself. At that moment, the writer becomes his own cop. By being concerned with good form
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Marguerite Duras was born Marguerite Donnadieu on 4 April 1914, in Gia Định, Cochinchina, French Indochina (now Vietnam). Her parents, Marie (née Legrand, 1877-1956) and Henri Donnadieu (1872-1921), were teachers from France who likely had met at Gia Định High School. They had both had previous marriages. Marguerite had two older siblings: Pierre, the eldest, and Paul.

Duras's father fell ill and h

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“Finding yourself in a hole, at the bottom of a hole, in almost total solitude, and discovering that only writing can save you. To be without the slightest subject for a book, the slightest idea for a book, is to find yourself, once again, before a book. A vast emptiness. A possible book. Before nothing. Before something like living, naked writing, like something terrible, terrible to overcome.” 85 likes
“The solitude of writing is a solitude without which writing could not be produced, or would crumble, drained bloodless by the search for something else to write.” 59 likes
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