Wartime Notebooks, By Marguerite Duras

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The Independent Culture

The writings of Marguerite Duras are imprinted with an artistic hauteur that is unmistakably French.

This assortment of memoirs, first drafts and stories taken from four exercise books found after the author's death and translated by Linda Coverdale, recall her difficult childhood in Indochina, and war years in Paris.

Duras, who died in 1996, was fascinated by her own story and spent a lifetime re-writing it.

The first notebook, started in 1943, details not only the violent abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother, but her relationship with Leo, the older man who provided the model for The Lover (1984).

Duras's reminiscences of occupied France are more brutal still. She's a very modern writer fascinated by the interchange between memoir and fiction.