By Luciana Leitão
It is not exactly an unknown book, but it is definitely one that deserves to be picked. The Lover, by Marguerite Duras, has already raised to the statute of one of best books of all times, at least in my repertoire. It tells an autobiographical story, set in the prewar Indochina, revealing the complexities of a non-linear relationship and of a non-linear woman.
The action is set in 1929 and it portrays a young French girl aged 15, who is going through the Mekong river. During that ride, she meets a Chinese man, son of a local businessman, wearing European cloths. Both are heading to Saigon, where they then commit to a burning passion inside the walls of an apartment.
The prose is exquisite, with superb descriptions of a beautiful scenery, as if the author were painting a landscape. She was “wearing a dress of real silk, the famous pair of gold lame high heels and a man’s flat-brimmed hat, a brownish-pink fedora with a broad black ribbon”, she describes faithfully. And the flow through the Mekong seems to takes us there, together with the author and her recent acquaintance.
The theme is controversial. Such relationship goes against all social rules, and Duras, through her love affair, evokes her life, her family, her economic problems and her deep alienation feeling, always present. The pain and love that are revealed in the relationship between the girl and her lover, show an intimate portrait of the author herself.
The Lover is a story about love, feelings, ambiguities and how nothing is black and white, how love is definitely not black and white, but instead it has all these different colours, sometimes intertwined, just to create confusion. It is a real story.