English language edition.
I should reserve my opinion until I finish this, and really it's a bit pathetic that I haven't considering it's only 118 pages in relatively large type. But I did want to document some of my initial thoughts.
- I continue to adore Marguerite Duras. Reading her work is really making me love all things French right now. I must brush up on my language skills and try reading her in the original French.
- Her work is experimental in that uniquely mid-20th century way. It seems a bit quaint in some ways, but I love mid-century writers for having pushed the envelope and broken free of traditional narrative modes. This story is told almost exclusively in dialogue. There are some very sparse bits of description - just a sentence every dozen pages or so - and so the story is distilled to pure character, and the characters are distilled only to what they say to each other. As I read last night, I kept thinking that reading to these two unnamed characters - a young woman and a man of indeterminate age - would be like watching a play in complete darkness. The dialogue has a theatricality to it that's definitely mid-century. I'm hearing these two people as Leslie Howard and Bette Davis circa The Petrified Forest
I somehow haven't managed to finish this yet, despite having maybe 25 pages left to read. I suppose I could say that it's interesting but not compelling. The theatrical dialogue isn't quite working for me, but the edition I have is from 1959 and I'm curious whether any other English language translations exist. The Four Novels
version I just picked up seems to be the same translation. I wonder whether what I'm reading as very formal, theatrical dialogue is a function of having been translated in the 50s and whether a more modern translation would read as...well... more modern. I'll have to check amazon sometime for other editions.
I think I'm missing something by not having read this in one sitting. I may try again soon. There are thoughts skittering around the periphery of my brain about loneliness, isolation and disconnection, about people feeling trapped and hopeless but finding a spark of potential in a simple conversation on a park bench. My thoughts won't quite gel today. Perhaps too many Sookie Stackhouse books in a row rotted my brain.
Oh. Ha! Google offers up a quote of the day that perfectly sums up my reading habits for the last two months:
There is a great deal of difference between an eager man woman who wants to read a book and the tired man woman who wants a book to read.
- G. K. Chesterton
I have very much been the latter recently.