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Marguerite Duras

  • I seldom read in beaches or in gardens. You can't read by two lights at once, the light of day and the light of the book. You should read by electric light, the room in shadow, and only the page lit up.

    • Marguerite Duras,
    • interview, Le magazine littéraire ()
  • There are many women who write as they think they should write — to imitate men and make a place for themselves in literature.

    • Marguerite Duras,
    • in Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron, eds, New French Feminisms ()
  • I acquired that drinker's face before I drank. Drink only confirmed it. The space for it existed in me.

  • The outrage was on the scale of God. My younger brother was immortal and they hadn't noticed. Immortality had been concealed in my brother's body while he was alive, and we hadn't noticed that it dwelt there. Now my brother's body was dead, and immortality with it. ... And the error, the outrage, filled the whole universe.

  • Nowhere is one more alone than in Paris ... and yet surrounded by crowds. Nowhere is one more likely to incur greater ridicule. And no visit is more essential.

    • Marguerite Duras,
    • "Tourists in Paris" (1957), Outside: Selected Writings ()
  • Journalism without a moral position is impossible. Every journalist is a moralist. It's absolutely unavoidable. A journalist is someone who looks at the world and the way it works, someone who takes a close look at things every day and reports what she sees, someone who represents the world, the event, for others. She cannot do her work without judging what she sees.

    • Marguerite Duras,
    • foreword, Outside: Selected Writings ()
  • I see journalists as the manual workers, the laborers of the word. Journalism can only be literature when it is passionate.

    • Marguerite Duras,
    • foreword, Outside: Selected Writings ()
  • Heterosexuality is dangerous. It tempts you to aim at a perfect duality of desire.

  • No other human being, no woman, no poem or music, book or painting can replace alcohol in its power to give man the illusion of real creation.

  • I believe that always, or almost always, in all childhoods and in all the lives that follow them, the mother represents madness. Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we've ever met.

  • I don't have general views about anything, except social injustice.

  • Drinking isn't necessarily the same as wanting to die. But you can't drink without thinking you're killing yourself.

  • What stops you killing yourself when you're intoxicated out of your mind is the thought that once you're dead you won't be able to drink any more.

  • A woman's work, from the time she gets up to the time she goes to bed, is as hard as a day at war, worse than a man's working day. ... To men, women's work was like the rain-bringing clouds, or the rain itself. The task involved was carried out every day as regularly as sleep. So men were happy — men in the Middle Ages, men at the time of the Revolution, and men in 1986: everything in the garden was lovely.

  • A writer is a foreign country.

  • People come to Paris, to the capital, to give their lives a sense of belonging, of an almost mythical participation in society.

  • Alcohol doesn't console, it doesn't fill up anyone's psychological gaps, all it replaces is the lack of God.

  • You have to be very fond of men. Very, very fond. You have to be very fond of them to love them. Otherwise they're simply unbearable.

  • A book consists of two layers: on top, the readable layer ... and underneath, a layer that was inaccessible. You only sense its existence in a moment of distraction from the literal reading, the way you see childhood through a child. It would take forever to tell what you see, and it would be pointless.

    • Marguerite Duras
  • The person who writes books must always be enveloped by a separation from others.

  • One does not find solitude, one creates it.

  • If I hadn't begun writing, I would have become an incurable alcoholic.

  • Solitude is the thing without which one does nothing.

  • Anyone's death is Death in its entirety.

  • Writing also means not speaking. Keeping silent. Screaming without sound. A writer is often quite restful; she listens a lot. She doesn't speak much because it's impossible to speak to someone about a book one has written, and especially about a book one is writing.

  • When the past is recaptured by the imagination, breath is put back into life.

    • Marguerite Duras,
    • in Le Nouvel Observateur ()

Marguerite Duras, French writer, film director

(1914 - 1996)

Real name: Marguerite Donnadieu.