An impovished, adolescent French girl in colonial South East Asia has a forbidden love affair with a wealthy, Chinese man, twelve years her senior. An aloof, seemingly uncaring mother, a cruel, dominating older brother and a weak, helpless younger brother make up the family she is at once trying to escape and save.
This report prepared by Meredith
In this sad, cool, short novel, Duras tells the largely autobiographical story of a 15-year-old European girl's first affair with an older Chinese man in French Indochina during the 1930s. Stereotypes and expectations are inverted: she is poor, he wealthy; she seduces him, not vice versa; she controls the relationship, does not love him though he is hopelessly besotted with her, and she dictates all the terms, including how and when it ends. Duras uses cinematic techniques -- flashbacks and forwards, repetitions, incidents cut up and interrupted by seemingly unrelated descriptions -- and switches between first and third person to enrich what at first seems a fairly dry and unadorned narrative. A depressing yet eloquent work of art.
This report prepared by David Loftus