A leaf out of French literature

Oct 31, 2018, 07:31 IST | Snigdha Hasan

Watch a play based on acclaimed novelist Marguerite Duras's autobiographical work set against the backdrop of French colonial Vietnam, where she grew up

A leaf out of French literature
The road of the High School Chasseloup-Laubat in Saigon that Duras attended

In the late 1920s in Indochina, love blossomed between a pubescent girl from a French family of limited means and an older, wealthy Chinese-Vietnamese man. The contrasting racial and financial realities meant that the odds were stacked against the couple, and the love story lived a short life. But first love, they say, is unforgettable, and imbued with shades of colonial realities, it made a deep impact on French novelist, playwright and filmmaker Marguerite Duras.

Though she returned to France at the age of 17, the affair continued to surface in her works. Her fictionalised autobiographical work, L'amant, or The Lover, however, is based on the romance and recounts it in greater detail. An eponymous play based on the work — which has been translated into 43 languages, adapted to a film, and awarded the 1984 Prix Goncourt — will be staged in the city this Thursday.

Marguerite Duras
Marguerite Duras/AFP

Brought to Mumbai by Alliance Française de Bombay in partnership with Cie du Barrage-Théâtre Marguerite Duras and Department of French (University of Mumbai), the play will be performed by French actor Maud Andrieux with English subtitles. Its music has been composed by Marco Gomes.

Andrieux, the programme director for Theater Marguerite Duras, tells us that she grew passionate about Duras's works when she visited Vietnam in 2003 and came face-to-face with the colonial past of Vietnam with France.

Maud Andrieux
Maud Andrieux/AFP

From a deeply personal account to the writer's rejection of racism, the novel straddles the two worlds poignantly. "L'amant presents Duras's discovery of her femininity and body as a young woman beautifully," says Andrieux. "What makes it unique is that though it is set in her younger days, she went into flashback and wrote the novel at the age of 70 from a whole new perspective."

On: November 1, 3.30 pm
At: Pherozeshah Mehta Auditorium, University of Mumbai, Kalina, Santacruz East.
Register: communication.mumbai@afindia.org

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