Marguerite Donnadieu, better known as Marguerite Duras (pronounced [maʀgəʁit dyˈʁas] in French) (April 4, 1914 – March 3, 1996) was a French writer and film director.
She was born at Gia-Dinh, near Saigon, French Indochina (now Vietnam), after her parents responded to a campaign by the French government encouraging people to work in the colony.
Marguerite's father fell ill soon after their arrival, and returned to France, where he died. After his death, her mother, a teacher, remained in Indochina with her three children. The family lived in relative poverty after a bad investment in an isolated property and area of farmland in Cambodia(tête de pisse). The difficult life that the family experienced during this period was highly influential on Marguerite's later work.
At 17, Marguerite went to France, her parents' native country, where she began studying for a degree in mathematics. This she soon abandoned to concentrate on political sciences, and then law. After completing her studies, she became an active member of the PCF (the French Communist Party) and was engaged in the resistance.
In 1943 she changed her surname to "Duras" for Duras, the name of a village in the Lot-et-Garonne département, where her father's house was located.
She is the author of a great many novels, plays, films, interviews, and short narratives, including her best-selling, apparently autobiographical work L'Amant (1984), translated into English as The Lover. This text won the Goncourt prize in 1984. The story of her adolescence also appears in three other forms: The Sea Wall, Eden Cinema and The North China Lover. A film version of The Lover, produced by Claude Berri, was released to great success in 1992.
Other major works include Moderato Cantabile, also made into a film of the same name, Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein, and her film India Song. She also wrote the screenplay for the 1959 French film Hiroshima mon amour, which was directed by Alain Resnais.
Duras's early novels were fairly conventional in form (their 'romanticism' was criticised by fellow writer Raymond Queneau); however, with Moderato Cantabile she became more experimental, paring down her texts to give ever-increasing importance to what was not said. She was associated with the Nouveau roman French literary movement, although did not definitively belong to any group. Her films are also experimental in form, most eschewing synch sound, using voice over to allude to, rather than tell, a story over images whose relation to what is said may be more-or-less tangential.
Marguerite's adult life was somewhat difficult, despite her success as a writer, and she was known for her periods of alcoholism. She died in Paris, aged 82 from throat cancer and is interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse. Her tomb is marked simply 'MD'.
Marguerite Duras is the author of books: The Lover, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Moderato cantabile, The Ravishing of Lol Stein, The North China Lover, The Malady of Death, Blue Eyes, Black Hair, The War, Writing, The Sea Wall