15 July 13 | Chad W. Post

For all of you who are excited about L’Amour, the never-before-translated Marguerite Duras book that we’re publishing this week, you can check out a sizable excerpt over at Guernica.

Night.

The beach and the sea are in darkness.

A dog passes, going toward the sea wall.

No one walks on the boardwalk, but, on the benches lining it, people sit. They relax. Are silent. Separated from one another. They do not speak.

The traveler passes. He walks slowly, he goes in the same direction as the dog.

He stops. Returns. He seems to be out for a walk. He starts off again.

His face is no longer visible.

The sea is calm. No wind.

The traveler returns. The dog does not return. The sea begins to rise, it seems. Its sounds getting closer. Muffled thudding coming from the river’s many mouths. Somber sky.

And as a special bonus, here’s a bit of Sharon Willis’s afterword:

L’Amour forgets. Of course, this is a novel about forgetting—and memory. But its narrative presents itself as dispossessed of the very memory that runs through it in the form of recycled figures and images that recall two of Duras’s previous novels, The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein (1964) and The Vice Consul (1965). Sometimes known as the “India cycle,” this extended text, relayed across three books, performs its own forgetfulness, and imposes a frustrating—even terrifying—amnesia on the reader. But to read L’Amour apart from the earlier novels presents another problem, this time more epistemological: without the trans-textual memory that structures and binds these three narratives into one prolonged text, how does L’Amour become legible?

Reducing characters to figures as residues, remnants, and fragments, this book produces a textual relay that becomes its own internal memory and that dissolves its narrative frame, substituting its memory of the previous texts for the reader’s own, implanting memories in us. But like the dead dog on the beach to which L’Amour returns with unsettingly frequency—as if this corpse structures the narrative space—these are figures in the course of deterioration. Memory is erasing itself. The dead dog, mentioned once in The Ravishing, reappears repeatedly in L’Amour. Around this dreadful site/sight, a hole in sense, circulate the unnamed residues of characters that the reader “remembers” from previous texts. Remembering here means fleshing out these haunting ghosts—worn to nubs, “sanded down,” to cite the translators—transposed from The Ravishing and The Vice Consul: Lol V. Stein, her fiancé, Michael Richardson, and Jacques Hold, the narrator who tells their story while he gradually enters into it.

But instead of grinding to exhaustion in its obsessive return to these figures, this novel relaunches them—translates them—into film, the medium that will preoccupy Duras in the coming years. Haunted by its shape-shifting textual ghosts (in French revenants; literally, one’s coming back), L’Amour also anticipates a cycle of films marked by these same narrative remnants and traces: La Femme du Gange (1972), India Song (1974), and Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert (1976). Situated at the join between the prose cycle and the cinematic one, L’Amour produces a site of translation, a space where everything keeps turning into something else. Hence this text’s fascination with liminal or threshold spaces: dawn, dusk, the crepuscular. We might even see this space as the place where we can watch this extended novel turning into cinema.

L’Amour is a theater of translation, in which the ongoing conflict between eye and ear, image and speech, stillness and passage, present and past, endlessly mutates. This sense of ceaseless mutation coheres with the persistent boundary failures, between texts, between genres, between textual spaces and between the characters who uneasily inhabit them, that mark Duras’s work in general, and that emerge within _L’Amour_’s narrative unfolding, troubling its ability even to begin and to end.

L’Amour is available at better bookstores everywhere, or can be ordered from Open Letter “directly.” (And at a really nice discount . . .)


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
The Matiushin Case
The Matiushin Case by Oleg Pavlov
Reviewed by Brandy Harrison

The publisher’s blurb for Oleg Pavlov’s The Matiushin Case promises the prospective reader “a Crime and Punishment for today,” the sort of comparison that is almost always guaranteed to do a disservice to both the legendary dead and the ambitious. . .

Read More >

Fear: A Novel of World War I
Fear: A Novel of World War I by Gabriel Chevallier
Reviewed by Paul Doyle

One hundred years have passed since the start of World War I and it is difficult to believe that there are still novels, considered classics in their own countries, that have never been published in English. Perhaps it was the. . .

Read More >

Little Grey Lies
Little Grey Lies by Hédi Kaddour
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

In the London of Hédi Kaddour’s Little Grey Lies, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan, peace has settled, but the tensions, fears, and anger of the Great War remain, even if tucked away behind stories and lies. Directly ahead, as those. . .

Read More >

Autobiography of a Corpse
Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
Reviewed by Simon Collinson

One of the greatest services—or disservices, depending on your viewpoint—Bertrand Russell ever performed for popular philosophy was humanizing its biggest thinkers in his History. No longer were they Platonic ideals, the clean-shaven exemplars of the kind of homely truisms that. . .

Read More >

A Musical Hell
A Musical Hell by Alejandra Pizarnik
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

The best way to review Alejandra Pizarnik’s slim collection, A Musical Hell, published by New Directions as part of their Poetry Pamphlet series, is to begin by stating that it is poetry with a capital P: serious, dense, and, some. . .

Read More >

Astragal
Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Upon completing Albertine Sarrazin’s Astragal I was left to wonder why it ever fell from print. Aside from the location, Astragal could pass as the great American novel. Its edginess and rawness capture the angst and desires we all had. . .

Read More >

Live Bait
Live Bait by Fabio Genovesi
Reviewed by Megan Berkobien

When my eyes first crossed the back cover of Fabio Genovesi’s novel Live Bait, I was caught by a blurb nestled between accolades, a few words from a reviewer for La Repubblica stating that the novel was, however magically, “[b]eyond. . .

Read More >

The Skin
The Skin by Curzio Malaparte
Reviewed by Peter Biello

“I preferred the war to the plague,” writes Curzio Malaparte in his 1949 novel, The Skin. He speaks of World War II and the destruction it has wrought on Italy, the city of Naples in particular. But the plague he. . .

Read More >

Love Sonnets & Elegies
Love Sonnets & Elegies by Louise Labé
Reviewed by Brandy Harrison

With the steady rise of feminist scholarship and criticism in recent decades, it is little wonder that the work of Louise Labé should be attracting, as Richard Sieburth tells us in the Afterword to his translation, a “wide and thriving”. . .

Read More >

Conversations
Conversations by César Aira
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

In Conversations, we find ourselves again in the protagonist’s conscious and subconscious, which is mostly likely that of Mr. César Aira and consistent with prototypical Aira style. This style never fails because each time Aira is able to develop a. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >