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The Ravishing of Lol Stein
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1001 book reviews > The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein by Marguerite Duras

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message 1: by Liz M (last edited Apr 29, 2018 06:14PM) (new) - added it

Liz M | 194 comments The Ravishing of Lol Stein

Why it is included in the 1001 list: "For psychoanalysts, the love triangle always contains rivals and can only be resolved by the elimination of one of them.... Duras's novel explores the possibility of moving beyond this: the possibility of maintaining desire without rivalry. In doing so, it offers its readers one of the most powerful anti-Oedipal myths of recent times."

The novel begins many years after the story. Lol is married with three children and has long since settled into a routine that approximates living. She becomes unsettled after the family moves back into her childhood home where at the age of nineteen, Lol's became fascinated with an older women at a ball and jilted Lol. In her walks through the town Lol sees a familiar woman and is captivated by her and her male companion. She gradually realizes it is a the friend that consoled her during the ball and her friend's lover. Lol's attraction to Jacques gradually displaces her earlier trauma as she insinuates herself into the Jacques' & Tatiana's relationship.

Stylistically, this novel reminded me very much of Democracy, especially in the cold depiction of characters and events and in the non-liner presentation with authorial asides. While interested, I was never absorbed and it did not leave much of an impression.

Diane  | 2044 comments A story about a woman who is jilted and later moves away, marries another, and lives a mundane existence as a wife and mother. She returns home after a decade of being away and becomes obsessed with a woman who is having an extramarital affair, and her lover.

I've never been a fan of Duras' writing style, so I can't say that this made a big impression on me.

Gail (gailifer) | 1609 comments I have recently read the other two Duras books on the 1001 list: The Lover and The Vice-Consul. Compared to those two books, The Ravishing of Lol Stein is a slightly earlier and easier to read investigation of love and the way in which it is neither rational nor understandable. Lol experiences a trauma when she is jilted by her fiancé for another older woman (a woman we meet again in The Vice-Consul). However, the character of this trauma leaves her almost lifeless, without motivation or purpose, really just a shell of a being although she marries and has children. In contrast, her best girlfriend, Tatiana, at the time of Lol's trauma, experienced the event with more emotional impact and is somewhat captivated by the thought of finding out what lies under Lol's shell. Meanwhile, Lol living in a perpetual past becoming present, works to construct a way to get even closer to that traumatic night by injecting herself into Tatiana's love life with Jack Hood, who narrates the story. Lol, voyeuristically, desperately needs to relive the moment when she was fully present. Jack Hood falls in love with Lol but not as a whole being, more as a someone or something that is always approaching and never becoming.
Duras writes with purposeful ambiguity and chisels away at her paragraphs until the reader is left with only the barebones of the essence and that is not always the essence needed to understand what is going on. However, I found that this book did capture some slippery slope of losing oneself into the past without ever having truly experienced that past. It is a truly haunting book.

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