When Marguerite Duras was published in France in 1998, it reached the top of the bestseller lists immediately, and Duras, who had led an unapologetically controversial life, was propelled once again into the headlines. The author of The Lover, Hiroshima Mon Amour, and The War: A Memoir, Duras has long been a symbol of France's complex role in World War II and the country's troubled colonial relations in Asia, as well as a fascinating embodiment of the tensions between autobiography and fiction. Now available in English, Marguerite Duras confronts the truths and falsehoods in the life of the enigmatic author.
Adler, through her exploration of the events central to Duras's career, including her affair with and eventual denunciation of a Nazi collaborator and her childhood in Indochina, reveals Duras as the consummate pragmatist. She has combed through archives, unearthed letters, studied unpublished manuscripts, and interviewed scores of Duras's friends, lovers, enemies, and colleagues—as well as Duras herself—and she emerges with the richest portrait we have of Duras's life: her upbringing, her student days at the Sorbonne, her career as a novelist and filmmaker, and her involvement in French politics through the most complex decades of the twentieth century. "The masks and the truth" was the headline of a French review of Marguerite Duras, and Adler explores both, probing the line between fiction and selfhood and between political activities and personal responsibility.