Duras originally wrote The North China Lover as notes to the film
script for her 1985 book The Lover. The North China Lover ended up
being a powerful novel, and we prefer this version to the original
for its cinematic qualities and haunting resonance. Duras was
fascinated by the cross-pollination of genres and in some of her
more experimental scripts she explored the question of how
literary a film could be.
novel's autobiographical story tells of Duras's adolescent affair
with an older Chinese man. The novel gives us glimpses of Duras's
youth in Indochina where she grew up in abject poverty. An
atmosphere of poetic despair pervades the novel, as the young
Frenchwoman or "she" as the author refers to herself in
the novel, knows that her love is doomed--she is only fifteen and
her lover's Chinese family will never accept her as a bride.
writing is evocative and filmic. Duras mixes short, declarative
sentences and scene directions with impressionistic descriptions
of locations: "They stop laughing. They look away.
rice paddies as far as the eye can see. Empty sky. Pale heat.
Veiled sun." This experimentation follows partly on Duras'
association with the Nouveau Roman, a literary movement that
sought to revolutionize writing by means of stylistic
experimentation with the use of repetition and ellipsis.
goes one step farther in The North China Lover, creating what
ended up being a work of ravishing beauty. The film adaptation,
directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, successfully recreates the
strange intensity of the novel. As
Duras said about her re-written novel: "I became a novelist
all over again."
North China Lover, Marguerite Duras
Lover, Marguerite Duras
Lover, the film