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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Self-portrait and the discovery of the female voice in the writing of Marguerite Duras Brett, Susan Mae 1985

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SELF-PORTRAIT AND THE DISCOVERY OF THE FEMALE VOICE IN THE WRITING OF MARGUERITE DURAS. By SUSAN MAE BRETT B.A., The University of British Columbia, 1976 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFULLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October 1985 ©  Susan Mae Brett, 1985  In p r e s e n t i n g  t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the  requirements f o r an advanced degree a t the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make it  f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference  and study.  I further  agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by t h e head o f my department o r by h i s o r her r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s .  It i s  understood t h a t copying o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain  s h a l l n o t be allowed without my w r i t t e n  permission.  Department o f French The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1 Y 3  Date  October 8, 1985.  ii  ABSTRACT  Marguerite? Duras * e a r l i e r works f i t r e a d i l y i n t o the genre of t r a d i t i o n a l novel and,  the  l i k e many e a r l y works of f i c t i o n , are often auto-  b i o g r a p h i c a l i n content.  Un Barrage contre l e P a c i f i q u e ( l 9 5 0 ) , f o r example,  t e l l s the story of her d i f f i c u l t childhood r a i s e d by a widowed mother.  i n Indochina where she  However, with Mpderato Cantabile  w r i t i n g s t y l e changes markedly.  The  author associates  was  (1958) her  this alteration in  s t y l e with a c r i s i s i n her personal l i f e whereby her w r i t i n g becomes poetic and the n a r r a t i v e content i n c r e a s i n g l y abstruse. experimentation i n f i l m during the s i x t i e s and  I t i s with the  seventies  writer's  that a group of  works, r e f e r r e d to i n t h i s paper as the "India Song" t e x t s , appear.  In  t h i s group of works, beginning with Le Ravissement de L o i V. S t e i n (1964), and  ending with A u r e l i a Steiner, A u r e l i a S t e i n e r , A u r e l i a S t e i n e r (1979)»  the same s t o r y i s t o l d and r e t o l d , yet the form of the language, the n a r r a t i o n , and to text.  the dominant mode of perception  a l t e r s remarkably from t e x t  These t e x t s together are proposed, i n t h i s study, to form a unique  s e l f - p o r t r a i t of the author. The  t h e s i s i s d i v i d e d i n t o two p a r t s .  In Part I, the t r a n s i t i o n i n  w r i t i n g s t y l e i s considered as a movement away from an mode i n t o a s e l f - p o r t r a i t u r e mode.  autobiographical  A comparison i s made between the  c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of her w r i t i n g s t y l e i n the t e x t s f o l l o w i n g Moderato Cantabile and  the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the s e l f - p o r t r a i t as o u t l i n e d by  Michel Beaujour i n M i r o i r s d'encre.  To e l u c i d a t e the s i t u a t i o n of the  Durassian heroine p r i o r to the s e l f - p o r t r a i t revealed t e x t s , the myth of Narcissus and Echo i s u t i l i z e d .  i n the "India Song"  T h i s use  of myth pro-  iii  vides a background G e s t a l t against which the patterns  within the f i c t i o n  begin t o appear. ParL I I i s a t e x t u a l a n a l y s i s of the "India Song" s e l f - p o r t r a i t works which include Le Ravissement de L o i V. S t e i n , Le Vice-Consul, L'Amour, La Femme du Gange, India Song, and A u r e l i a S t e i n e r , A u r e l i a Steiner, Aurelia Steiner.  The ancient Summarian myth of female i n i t i a t i o n ,  the myth of Inanna, when a p p l i e d to these t e x t s , d i s c l o s e s the t r a n s f o r mation i n perspective  underlying  the arcane surface patterns  same " s t o r y " reappears from text to t e x t .  i n which the  From a one-dimensional world  dominated "by the masculine "regard", the reader i s p u l l e d , v i a the a u d i tory, i n t o a multidimensional k i n e s t h e t i c feminine world of the "lower" senses that i s r e f e r r e d t o i n the a n a l y s i s as "I'ecoute". perspective  I t i s this  that the female w r i t i n g voice of A u r e l i a S t e i n e r ,  of t h i s unusual s e l f - p o r t r a i t , o f f e r s to the reader.  culmination  iv  Table of Contents Page Abstract  ii  Table of Abbreviations  v  Introduction  1  Part I :  From Autobiography to Self-portrait.  6  Preliminary  7  Destruction as a Preamble.  lk  The Mute Refusal.  20  Mother and Daughter  30  The Crisis and the Beginning of an  Part II:  Identity Quest.  37  Death as a Beginning.  51  The Fabulous Wandering of the Durassian Woman.  59  From "le regard" to "l'ecoute": out of the Desert.  Voyage  71  Preliminary  72  Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein: Disorientation of the Visual Universe.  78  L'Amour:  89  A World in Limbo  L'Amour and Le Vice-Consul: A Devolution of the Myth of Woman.  102  La Femme du Gange:  11^  India Song:  The Myth Evolves.  The End of a World.  131  Aurelia Steiner, Aurelia Steiner, Aurelia Steiner.  1^  Conclusion  1^9  Bibliography  1?8  Table of Abbreviations  Detruire.,  Detruire,dit-elle  LeV.C.,  Le V i c e - G o n s u l  L.V.S.,  Le Ravissement de L o i V. S t e i n  L'A.,  L'Amour  I.S.,  I n d i a Song  F.duG.,  L a Femme du Gange  A.S.,  Aurelia Steiner, Aurelia Steiner, Aurelia Steiner  Les L i e u x . ,  L e s L i e u x de M a r g u e r i t e Duras  vi  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  I would l i k e to express my appreciation to Professors V a l e r i e Raoul and Franchise Iqbal f o r t h e i r patient guidance and encouragement, e s p e c i a l l y during the f i n a l stages of t h i s t h e s i s . I would a l s o l i k e to thank my family and f r i e n d s f o r t h e i r unf l a g g i n g support.  vii  To my mother, my s i s t e r and my son, T r i s t a n .  viii  JE ME DEMANDS COMMENT  Je me demande comment j ' a i s u p p o r t ! t a n t de g e n t i l l e s s e , t a n t de s o l l i c i t u d e , d ' a f f e c t i o n p r o f o n d e , de p r o t e c t i o n , t a u t e t de c o n s e i l s , comment j e s u i s r e s t e e l a , avec eux, sans j a m a i s f u i r . s u i s pas morte.  Comment j e ne  T o u t e s l e s vacances avec eux, l e meme homme, l e s  memes hommes, t o u s l e s e t e s , l e s s o i r e e s d ' e t e , avec eux, l e meme, l e s memes, 1'amour, l e s voyages, l e sommeil, l a musique, pendant des annees enfermees avec l e meme, l e s memes.  L a douleur, l e s i n f i d e l i t e s  s u p p l i c i a n t e s , sans lendemain, l a s u r v e i l l a n c e , l a d o u l e u r a h u r l e r , s i l e n c i e u s e , e t pourquoi? pourquoi? pour que j ' o u b l i e l a s e p a r a t i o n ,  Emmenee a V e n i s e , s o i g n e e , e n t o u r e e ,  a m o i t i e morte emmenee de f o r c e , adoree,  j ' a i m i l l e ans, j e ne peux pas s u p p o r t e r l a s e p a r a t i o n , t o u s pour me d i r e q u ' i l f a u t .  Pourquoi?  i l s s'y mettent  V i e gachee, a v o r t e e .  Cette  l i g n e d r o i t e de l a v i e de t o u t e s l e s femmes, ce s i l e n c e de l ' h i s t o i r e des femmes.  C e t echec q u i f e r a i t c r o i r e a l a r e u s s i t e , c e t t e r e u s s i t e q u i  n'existe  pas, q u i e s t un d e s e r t .  M a r g u e r i t e Duras "Les Yeux v e r t s " C a h i e r s d u Cinema, N.312/313 ( j u i n ) 1980, p.89.  -  1  -  Introduction  There i s ein e s s e n t i a l a l t e r i n g t e x t which f i r s t  of p e r s p e c t i v e w i t h i n the D u r a s s i a n  appears as the w r i t e r ' s  world as we know i t ,  and then l a t e r  w i t h i n the t e x t i t s e l f ,  conscious i n t e n t t o s u b v e r t  becomes a much l e s s c o n s c i o u s p r o c e s s  hence more d i f f i c u l t  p e r s p e c t i v e b e g i n s as the r e s u l t  to d e f i n e .  The a l t e r a t i o n  of a dramatic change i n the w r i t e r ' s  F o l l o w i n g t h i s change, her w r i t i n g no l o n g e r r e a d i l y f i t s f i n e s of the n o v e l .  the  w i t h i n the  The o r g a n i z e d , c h r o n o l o g i c a l s t o r y - t e l l i n g  of  in life.  con-  early  a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l l y i n f l u e n c e d works such as Un Barrage c o n t r e l e F a c i f i q u e (1950) d i s a p p e a r s , and the w r i t i n g becomes p o e t i c , without t a k i n g the form of the poem, and e n t e r s a f r e e r ,  more a b s t r u s e phase.  C e r t a i n dominant elements found i n the e a r l i e r  works, the m o t i f  " l a mendiante," f o r example, do reappear i n the l a t e r t h i s t h e s i s as the " I n d i a Song" t e x t s  (1964-1979)•  t o the a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l l y i n s p i r e d e a r l i e r a c c e p t e d formulae of the t r a d i t i o n a l  of  texts r e f e r r e d to However, i n  in  contrast  works, w r i t t e n w i t h i n the  n o v e l and r e v e a l i n g a concern with  ordered time and involvement w i t h the chronology of e v e n t s , the w r i t i n g the l a t e r  works r e f l e c t s q u a l i t i e s of the l e s s c o n v e n t i o n a l l y  language l a t e r  d e f i n e d as l i t e r a r y  Miroirs d'encre.^ space over time,  self-portraiture  restricted  by M i c h e l Beaujour  These q u a l i t i e s i n c l u d e , p r i m a r i l y ,  in  in  the predominance of  and the presence o f a q u e s t , s i m i l a r i n dimension t o t h a t  found i n the myth of I s i s ,  and i n v o l v i n g the s e a r c h of language f o r i t s own  roots: Le t e x t e de 1 ' a u t o p o r t r a i t s'engendre en se ressouvenant de lui-meme. II se r e s s o u v l e n t de lui-meme a f i n de t h e m a t i s e r son engendrement.  -  2 -  C ' e s t a i n s i q u ' i l r e j o i n t a s a f a c o n l a croyance s e l o n l a q u e l l e 1' i n t e r i o r i ' t e e s t l ' a n t e r i o r i t e , s u r t o u t s i c e t t e a n t e r i o r i t e s'enfonce v e r t i gineusement v e r s a n t i q u i t e de l ' i n d i v i d u e t de s a c u l t u r e , comme i l se p r o d u i t egalement dans l ' a n t h r o p o l o g i e r h e t o r i q u e de G i a m b a t i s t a Vico.^" The f i r s t o f M a r g u e r i t e Duras' works t o move f r o m f a m i l i a r t e r r a i n t o t h e u n f a m i l i a r and e x p l o r a t o r y , i s Moderato C a n t a b i l e (1958).  It is  a s t o r y o f l o v e and o f d e a t h , w r i t t e n i n p o e t i c language and r e v e a l i n g a " m y t h i c " dimension a c c o r d i n g t o t h e meaning g i v e n t o myth by E r n s t Gassirer:  " I n myth man o b j e c t i f i e s h i s own deepest emotions;  them a s i f they had an outward e x i s t e n c e . " ^  he l o o k s a t  T h i s mythic dimension i s present  throughout t h e t e x t s and f i l m s o f t h e s e l f - p o r t r a i t o r " I n d i a Song" t e x t s which form t h e s u b j e c t o f t h i s t h e s i s .  F o r every f i l m M a r g u e r i t e  Duras  has made ( h e r i n v o l v e m e n t w i t h f i l m began i n t h e e a r l y s i x t i e s w i t h t h e s c e n a r i o and d i a l o g u e s : "text".  H i r o s h i m a mon amour) , she has p u b l i s h e d a s e p a r a t e  A l t h o u g h both media w i l l be d i s c u s s e d , t h e q u o t a t i o n s and r e -  f e r e n c e s w i l l be from t h e t e x t u a l v e r s i o n s u n l e s s o t h e r w i s e i n d i c a t e d . P a r t I , t h e n , w i l l be d e a l i n g p r i m a r i l y w i t h t h i s t r a n s i t i o n i n M a r g u e r i t e Duras' w r i t i n g spanning t h e y e a r s f r o m 1958 t o i n c l u d e t h e s i x t i e s and t h e f i r s t years of her experimentation seventies.  i n f i l m , i n t h e l a t e s i x t i e s and e a r l y  I t i s d u r i n g t h i s p e r i o d t h a t Duras moves away f r o m t h e r e -  a s s u r i n g ground o f t h e n o v e l and t h e a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l mode, i n t o t h e e x p l o r a t o r y r e a l m s o f t h e " t e x t " and t h e s e l f - p o r t r a i t . Whereas t h e e a r l i e r a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l l y i n s p i r e d f i c t i o n a l works r e v e a l s e p a r a t e , c o h e r e n t and c o h e s i v e  " r e c i t s " o f c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y ordered  events,  t h e " I n d i a Song" s e l f - p o r t r a i t t e x t s m a n i f e s t a v e r y d i f f e r e n t o r i e n t a t i o n . B e g i n n i n g w i t h Le Ravissement de L o i V. S t e i n (1964) , a bond o f common  -  3 -  n a r r a t i v e c o n t e n t i s s u s t a i n e d from t e x t t o t e x t : and r e t o l d .  t h e same s t o r y i s t o l d  The same s i t u a t i o n s and m o t i f s "begin r e a p p e a r i n g  p a t t e r n s , y e t t h e language i n which they reappear a l t e r s . becomes more obscure and more o b v i o u s l y symbolic ing  i n familiar  As t h e n a r r a t i v e  o f something deeper u n f o l d -  w i t h i n t h e psyche o f t h e w r i t e r , an e v o l u t i o n i s d e t e c t e d w i t h i n t h e  t e x t s themselves.  A transformation occurs.  By a p p r o a c h i n g t h i s t r a n s f o r -  mation through myth, we a r e a b l e t o i d e n t i f y t h e s t e p by s t e p d i s c o v e r y o f a new " v o i c e " , which i s t h e c u l m i n a t i o n o f t h e s e l f - p o r t r a i t i n t h e " w r i t i n g v o i c e " o f A u r e l i a S t e i n e r , A u r e l i a S t e i n e r , A u r e l i a S t e i n e r (1979) Myth w i l l be used i n both P a r t I and P a r t I I i n o r d e r t o e l u c i d a t e the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n i n p e r s p e c t i v e o c c u r i n g a t t h e t e x t u a l l e v e l .  In Part I ,  we i n t r o d u c e t h e N a r c i s s u s and Echo myth i n order t o i l l u s t r a t e t h e s i t u a t i o n i n which t h e D u r a s s i a n h e r o i n e i s found when t h e s e l f - p o r t r a i t b e g i n s . I t i s w i t h i n t h e c o n t e x t o f woman's predicament, o f s u b j u g a t i o n and i n c a r c e r a t i o n w i t h i n a c u l t u r e and a language dominated by man, t h a t t h e w r i t e r ' s s u b v e r s i v e i n t e n t i s f i r s t f e l t and t h e b e g i n n i n g o f a new p e r s p e c t i v e recognized.  I n P a r t I I , an a n c i e n t Summarian myth o f female  initiation,  the myth o f Inanna, w i l l be used t o show how woman b e g i n s t o be seen and t o see f r o m t h e renewed p o i n t o f view o f h e r own autonomy and c r e a t i v i t y . The most i m p o r t a n t c r i t i c a l source u t i l i z e d i n t h i s t h e s i s i s t h e author's  own commentary on h e r w r i t i n g found i n numerous i n t e r v i e w s .  Another primary c r i t i c a l source i s M i r o i r s d'encre by M i c h e l B e a u j o u r used i n P a r t I where t h e t r a n s i t i o n f r o m autobiography dealt with.  to self-portraiture i s  I n P a r t I I , when d e a l i n g d i r e c t l y w i t h t h e " I n d i a Song" t e x t s  and t h e t r a n s f o r m a t i o n u n d e r l y i n g t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p between them we r e fer  t o Descent t o t h e G o d d e s s  1 0  by S y l v i a P e r e r a , and The Moon and t h e  _  Virgin  4  -  by Nor H a l l . Subversion  o f t h e m a s c u l i n e p e r s p e c t i v e c h a r a c t e r i z e d by " l e r e g a r d "  r e s u l t s i n t h e simultaneous indicated  by " l ' e c o u t e " .  r e d i s c o v e r y o f a unique f e m i n i n e  In this kinesthetic  perspective  u n i v e r s e where t h e female  v o i c e i s h e a r d , woman no l o n g e r depends f o r h e r e x i s t e n c e on t h e o b j e c t i f y i n g l o o k o f man s i n c e h i s dominance no l o n g e r e x i s t s .  This i s the  c e n t r a l a s p e c t o f t h e D u r a s s i a n u n i v e r s e t h a t w i l l be e x p l o r e d .  -  5  -  Notes (introduction) 1.  Marguerite Duras, Un Barrage contre le Pacifique (Paris: 1950).  Gallimard,  2.  See beginning of preliminary, Part I.  3.  Michel Beaujour, Miroirs d'encre (Paris:  4.  Ibid., p.l40. The literary self-portrait w i l l be discussed at greater length in Part I, Section V .  5.  Marguerite Duras, Moderato Cantabile (Paris: 1958).  6.  Donald P. Verne (ed.) Symbol, Myth, and Culture: Essays, and Lectures of Ernst Cassirer, 1935-45 (New Haven CT.: Yale University Press, 1979), P.173.  7.  Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima mon amour (Paris*  8.  Marguerite Duras, Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein (Paris: 1964).  9.  Marguerite Duras, Le Navire Night, Cesaree, Les Mains negatives, Aurelia Steiner, Aurelia Steiner, Aurelia Steiner (Paris: Mercure de France, 1979).  Editions du Seuil, 1 9 8 O ) .  Editions de Minuit,  Gallimard, i960).  10. Sylvia Brinton Perera, Descent to the Goddess (Toronto: Books, 1981).  Gallimard,  Inner City  11. Nor Hall, The Moon and the Virgin (New York: Harper and Row, I98O).  PART  I  From A u t o b i o g r a p h y t o S e l f - p o r t r a i t  - 7Preliminary Le Ravissement de L o i V. S t e i n , w r i t t e n i n 1964, opens a s i g n i f i c a n t chapter i n the w r i t i n g of Marguerite Duras, a chapter which continues through Le Vice-Gonsul (1966), L'Amour (1971), India Song and La Femme du Gange (1973), culminating f i n a l l y i n the A u r e l i a S t e i n e r t e x t s (1979).  1  L o i V.  S t e i n i s the young g i r l of eighteen abandoned by her f i a n c e f o r a b e a u t i f u l older woman the night of an end-of-summer b a l l .  Everything begins from  t h i s point. Le_ Vice-Gonsul t e l l s of the love story between the f i a n c e , Michael Richardson and the other woman, Anne-Marie S t r e t t e r , which takes place i n I n d i a , where he has followed her.  I n the same way L'Amour becomes  a r e t e l l i n g of the b a l l sequence i n Le Ravissement de L o i V. S t e i n , I n d i a Song and La Femme du Gange are reconstructions i n f i l m of events and charact e r s i n Le Vice-Gonsul.  Strangely, however, events and characters from a l l  texts intermingle, producing the e f f e c t of an i n t r i c a t e tapestry created by a coalescence of a l l the t e x t s .  I n an almost hypnotic rythm that continues  from t e x t t o t e x t , characters reappear and events repeat  themselves,  creating the mysterious e f f e c t of an obsessive dreamscape.  The traces of  former t e x t s are detected beneath the transparent language of the present, the whole becoming l i k e the r i c h palimpsest of memory, where the i n d i v i d u a l confronts not only her or h i s own past, but, because of the u n i v e r s a l nature of language and symbol, the past of the c u l t u r e as w e l l .  Gradually,  the characters and places i n the o r i g i n a l n a r r a t i v e s are transformed, r e duced t o a minimum of e s s e n t i a l t r a i t s , and we have the impression of moving about i n a f l u i d landscape. illustrates this:  The f o l l o w i n g passage from La Femme du Gange  8  Jour. Une p l a c e bordee d ' a r b r e s , e t d'un grand b a t i ment r e c t a n g u l a i r e . C'est une v i l l e . V i d e . A u . l a i n , on d i r a i t p o u r t a n t l e s rumeurs de l a v i e : c r i s * b r u i t de t r a v a i l . P e u t - e t r e l a v i l l e n ' e s t - e l l e pas v i d e au l o i n , a i l l e u r s . I c i , l a ou passe l e f i l m , l a v i l l e a un nom: S. T h a l a . Un homme a r r i v e dans l e champ. En impermeable. P e t i t e v a l i s e n o i r e a l a main. Son pas e s t l e n t , mesure. Ce pas r e s t e r a l e meme j u s q u ' a l a f i n du f i l m . C'est l e voyageur. Traverse l a place. Place traversee (F.du G., p . l ) . There i s an e v o l u t i o n w i t h i n t h e s e t e x t s w h i c h , p a r a d o x i c a l l y , t r a c e s a c i r c u l a r path.  I t may be more a p t l y d e s c r i b e d a s a t r a n s f o r m a t i o n ,  since  i t i n v o l v e s a r e t u r n o r d e s c e n t toward c h i l d h o o d f o l l o w e d by an a s c e n t toward a renewed p r e s e n t .  I t may a l s o be seen a s t h e g r a d u a l coming i n t o b e i n g o f  an a u t h e n t i c v o i c e , t h e female v o i c e , f o r i t i s w r i t i n g which r e v e a l s i t s own p r o c e s s o f becoming, " s e l f - c o n s c i o u s " w r i t i n g . c r i b e s i t i n t h e s e words:  M a r g u e r i t e Duras des-  "La v e r i t a b l e e c r i t u r e , e l l e , r e n v o i e a. elle-meme.  2  E l l e e s t autarcique." texts reveal;  There a r e two s t a g e s i n t h e p r o c e s s which t h e s e  t h e f i r s t i s t h e r e t u r n t o c h i l d h o o d seen i n t h e t e x t s  c l u s t e r i n g about I n d i a Song, l i k e i n f a n t s about a mother;  t h e second i s  the emergence from t h e s e f r a g m e n t s , l i k e t h e phoenix from t h e ashes, o f a renewed v o i c e i n t h e l a t e r A u r e l i a S t e i n e r t e x t s .  I t i s b o t h a quest f o r  i d e n t i t y and t h e s t o r y o f language, a unique s e l f - p o r t r a i t . The  u n u s u a l s t y l e o f M a r g u e r i t e Duras i s c h a r a c t i z e d by a combi-  n a t i o n o f p o w e r f u l l y e v o c a t i v e images, and an extreme s i m p l i c i t y o f language, o f p l o t , and e v e n t u a l l y o f n a r r a t i v e , f o l l o w i n g t h e d e s t r u c t i v e phase and t h e t r a n s f o r m a t i o n  l e a d i n g t o the Aure'lia S t e i n e r t e x t s .  a c o m b i n a t i o n a l s o found i n mythopoetic language.  It is  A myth, f o r example, i s  -  9  -  often a simple story told in imagistic language and revealing, upon close scrutiny, the inner mysteries of psychic l i f e .  However, whereas classical  myths reflect a structure which involves an interplay of characters with an eventual outcome of either triumph or f a l l for the hero, the Durassian text maintains a certain tension which i s never resolved but simply transforms i t s e l f perpetually, like the characters themselves.  This can be seen  most clearly in Aurelia Steiner, where the heroine changes city, history, most details in her l i f e , i n a kind of fabulous perpetual becoming i n which she remains eternally the eighteen-year-old writer.  If classical myth i s  at a l l applicable to this suite of Durassian texts, i t would be so only in fragmentary form and by allusion, nevertheless, the metamorphic myth of Narcissus and Echo, as told by the poet Ovid, w i l l be referred to in the analysis of the texts in Part I.  Before explaining how i t i s to be used  in connection with the quest for the female voice i n these texts i t may be resumed thus: It so happens that the goddess Hera, during a jealous phase, suspects her husband Zeus of cavorting with one of the nymphs. Hearing Echo's cheerful babbling, she chooses this unsuspecting nymph as the object of her vengeance. She proclaims that Echo w i l l always have the last word but w i l l never be the f i r s t to speak. This i s a cruel punishment indeed, for Echo, along with a l l the other nymphs, has fallen in love with the handsome youth Narcissus and can now only follow him without hope of ever speaking to him.  One day, however, Narcissus, wandering about alone in the woods  in search of his playmates calls out, "Is one of you here?"  Echo, hiding  close by, answers in delight, "HereI Here.*", to which Narcissus responds: "Gome here.'", the words she has been craving to hear him say.  She repeats  -  10 -  joyously, "Gome here!", jumping out from her hiding spot. disgust, as he has from a l l the nymphs before her, saying: I give you power over me."  Echo can only repeat humbly:  He turns away in " I ' l l die before "I give you power :  over me", and wanders forlornly into a solitary grotto where she eventually pines away, only her voice remaining to haunt the caves and ravines of the forest.  Narcissus continues along his cruel path, laughing at love until  the fateful day when one of his victims prays to the gods that "he who loves no other be taken with love for himself." Nemesis, the goddess of righteous anger, takes i t upon herself to carry out the wish; so i t comes to pass that Narcissus, bending over a pool to drink, sees his own reflection and understands immediately why the others have suffered: "I now burn with love for myself, yet can neither approach the beauty I see in the water nor move away from i t , surely death i s the only thing that w i l l liberate meI "  And  so Narcissus died beside the pool, Echo coming to his side to repeat his farewells to the fading image, the beautiful narcissus flower growing from 3  the ground to mark the spot. The Narcissus and Echo myth i s invoked here for several reasons. Myth, like fairytale which w i l l also be referred to, often deals in fantasy containing hidden truths, according to the archetypal psychology of G.G. Jung. Fantasy, as purely imaginative expression of the hidden, i s perhaps the best way to describe the mood of a Durassian text.  To simplify greatly,  the texts can be seen as the working-out of a woman's fantasy in the arena of male-dominated language. Behind the stories of Loi V. Stein, Anne-Marie Stretter and the beggar woman, i s hidden the author's search in the male universe of words for her own writing voice. Since this writing can be seen in the context of the modern literary concept of "text", the word the author  -  11  -  herself uses when referring to her literary works, the f i r s t lines of Derrida's "La Pharmacie de Platon" will perhaps best elucidate this idea of the hidden and of process in the Durassian text:  "Un texte n'est un texte  que s ' i l cache au premier regard, au premier venu, l a l o i de sa composition et l a regie de son jeu."  The quest exists, therefore, both from the point  of view of the writer and from that of the reader;  i t i s a quest which can  often render reading, especially in the earlier texts such as Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein, a disquieting experience. Secondly, the myth of Narcissus and Echo deals in transformation, singly the most important underlying movement i n the series of texts seen here as reflecting a self-portrait of the writer. The myth of Narcissus i s perhaps the most pertinent metamorphic myth to be invoked when plunging into the complexities and paradoxes of the literary self-portrait, expecially one obscured by the patterns of fiction.  Self-portraiture does not reside,  according to Michel Beaujour in Miroirs d'encre, in the narcissistic confines of autobiography or of the intimate journal;  rather, i t i s character-  ised by the movement which joins the self-portraitist with the larger context of her or his cultural reservoir, that takes writing beyond the limits of the individual ego into a more universal consciousness:  "L'auto-  portrait depasse toujours, et pour cause, le narcissisme primaire.""' Or, in the words of Marguerite Duras appearing on the back cover of the Aurelia Steiner texts:  "Ecrire c'est n'etre personne."  Since i t i s a question of female self-portraiture and of the quest for a female voice, equal emphasis w i l l be given to the role of Echo in this myth. The fate of Echo i s intriguing to examine in relationship to writing generally, and, more particularly, to female writing.  Accused by  -  12  -  a jealous mother figure, trapped in the forest, condemned to the prison of her own repetition, Echo shows herself to be emblematic of what has been, and perhaps s t i l l i s , the position of women writing within the corpus of male-defined culture. Finally, within the myth i s found the power struggle of love which i s refused by Narcissus; love for his own image results, furthermore, in a dilemma leading to his death and return to the earth followed by a further transformation into a flower.  Love, the failure or refusal of love, death;  eros and thanatos, creation and destruction, this i s the dialectical rythm leading to the transformation through language that the Durassian texts reveal. When viewed as an evolving group, these works inter-relate, weaving together through juxtaposition and metonymy the destinies of five female characters;  Loi V. Stein, Anne-Marie Stretter, " l a mendiante", Tatiana  Karl, and finally Aurelia Steiner.  It i s in "Les Yeux verts,"^ an intriguing,  autobiographically coloured collage of writings and photographs of the author's cinematographic works and their sources, that Aurelia Steiner i s best seen in relationship to the other Durassian heroines and to the author herself.  It i s as though Aurelia Steiner i s born from the ruins of that  world which held the others, as presented, for example, in the film Son n  nom de Venise dans Calcutta desert;  here, four mute, shadowy, female  figures wander among ruins by a beach while the sound track from India Song i s heard. In the original works from which the later cinematographic works such as India Song and La Femme du Gange evolved, the "stories" were recounted by male narrators.  The images before the camera, accompanied by  -  13 -  disembodied "voices", have replaced this narration in the later works.  Since  these "voices" are in the present, they are separated from the "story" which remains buried in images from the past.  The retelling of that story inter-  mingles with the invention of their own. This division of the voices (the present) from the images (the past) reflects the dialectic of memory and invention which, according to Michael Beaujour, forms one of the bases of self-portraiture: Ce qui importe a l'autoportraitiste en tant qu'ecrivain, c'est le processus de construction et de deconstruction des lieux, le classement, 1'invehtaire, 1'emboxtage et le desemboitage des images, beaucoup plus que les contenus specifiques de l a memoire, qui deviennent de simples jalons de 1'invention du texte.8 The memory of the ball where Loi loses her fiance takes on the form of a space to be gradually decomposed in the subsequent texts.  It meets  in a mysterious way, the beach and the sea always present in the Durassian text, and which can be traced, in turn, to the sea of the author's childo hood f i r s t written about in Un Barrage contre le Paoifique.' However, the analysis only begins here, for beneath the diegetic or story level exists that powerful dimension of language itself which borders on a limitless zone of silence.  It i s here that the self-portrait and the female  voice cross paths. Another voice, the voice of Aurelia Steiner — the obscure synthesis of the other heroines who have preceded her — comes from this opaque region of silence; from here her dialogue emerges and returns i n a constant flow. female voice.  It i s this emergence and this eternal flow that define the  Tracing i t s evolution in the Durassian text i s the goal of  the present study.  -  14  -  G est curieux, cette apparence que prend le fleuve quelquefois dans 1'eclairement de l a nuit, d'aller vers l a mer tres vite pour tout entier s'y fondre... 1  Mais qui etes-vous? Qui? Comment cela se f e r a i t - i l ? Comment cela se s e r a i t - i l fait? (...) Moi, je ne sais plus  (£_•§.•» p.126-7).  Destruction as Preamble The f i r s t novels of Marguerite Duras can be seen from the perspective of the traditional novel (1943-1958);  the works beginning with Moderato  Cantabile (1958), as will be seen in the present study, become the very antithesis of this tradition.  Of the earlier works, several might be des-  cribed as written i n the autobiographical mode, for they have a strong narrative, chronologically ordered events, and are patterned after persons and events from the writer's childhood. For example, Un Barrage contre Le Pacifique. written in 1950, reflects the author's d i f f i c u l t and unusual o childhood spent i n Indochina with a widowed mother and brother. Towards the end of the f i f t i e s , her writing changes markedly and rather abruptly, taking a decided turn towards an intuitive, poetic mode. This trandformation i n the writing relates to a crisis in the author's l i f e , a crisis which takes on the contours of the disquieting tale of love and death in the novel Moderato Cantabile.  Marguerite Duras speaks of this  -  15  -  transition in the following terms, during an interview in 1971: L'oeuvre l a plus autobiographique, s i l'on parle des evenements ou des faits, est Barrage contre Le Pacifique; du point du  Several years later, in the interviews with Xaviere Gauthier published in book form under the t i t l e of Les Parleuses, Marguerite Duras speaks again, this time with more irony, about the direction her writing had taken: On etait tenement pauvres, on bouffait n'importe quoi, des oiseaux, des oiseaux. de mer qui puaient le poisson. Enfin, je l ' a i raconte, pas completement, dans le Barrage. Evidemment, dans Le Barrage, je voulais pas raconter tout. Je voulais que ce soit harmonieux. On m*avait d i t : "II faut que ce soit harmonieux." C'est beaucoup plus tard que je suis passee a 1'incoherence.11 This irony foreshadows the other side of the creative process, the "thanatos" or destructive drive that her writing began to uncover during «» and following this transition. written and produced in 1969 itinerary.  f  Detruire, dit-elle,  12 a novel and film  clearly states the radicalism of the writer's  If we are to create, we must f i r s t learn to destroy, to let go,  to throw out what no longer works; with this house-cleaning, novel-writing in the traditional sense i s swept out the door: — Ecrire, peut-etre, dit Thor. Car tout se passe i c i comme s i je comprenais qu'on puisse — i l sourit les yeux fermes—chaque nuit, depuis que je suis arrive dans cet hotel,  -  16 -  je suis sur l e point de commencer... je n*ecris pas, je n ' e c r i r a i jamais... oui, chaque nuit change ce que j ' e c r i r a i s s i j ' e c r i v a i s (Dgtruire.,. p. 39) • In the following passage, Thor i s questioning Stein, the writer-to-be: —Qu'est-ce que t u f a i s toute l a journee? —Rien. —Tu  ne l i s pas?  —Non. —Ou  Je f a i s semblant. en es-tu dans ce l i v r e ?  —Dans des preambules sans f i n (Detruire  M  p.48).  Detruire, d i t - e l l e i s a constant play on the theme of reading  and  writing, i n which Thor and Stein, of the Thor-Alissa-Stein t r i o , are wouldbe writers who do not write;  Elizabeth Alione, the other guest i n the  hotel, whom the t r i o eventually draw into their sphere, i s the reader who never reads;  her book i s always l y i n g passively beside her, forgotten  while she sleeps, then taken up unconsciously fathom the same two pages.  i n a semi-hypnotic e f f o r t to  This abstruse text seems to be saying that  reading and writing are bankrupt. "Detruire", says A l i s s a . d i t Stein.  "Alissa sait,  Mais que s a i t - e l l e ? " (De*truire., p.52) . A l i s s a i s v i o l e n t ,  petulant and loving by turns; she i s also eighteen, the age of L o i V. Stein and A u r e l i a Steiner, the central Durassian heroines i n the quest f o r the female voice.  I t i s also the age of Marguerite Duras  when she l e f t  Indochina t o study i n France. The other woman of the story, Elizabeth Alione, i s older, has just l o s t a baby, has a teenage daughter with whom she does not presently get along, and spends a l l her time at the hotel sleeping.  There i s also a  question about a dead doctor (her lover?) which remains i n the ambiguity  -  17 -  surrounding the entire text: —Cette crise, demande Alissa, ce docteur, —Oui, dit Stein, cette mort du docteur. — I I n'est pas mort, crie Bernard Alione (Detruire.,p.115). The three (Thors-Alissa-Stein) are followers of the theory of Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld i s a dead child, eight years old. The novel doubles back on i t s e l f , writing i t s story as i t goes along.  It i s based on destruction:  "La destruction capitale en passera d'abord par les mains d*Alissa", dit Stein" (Detruire.,p.59)• .Alissa i s crazy:  "Stein dit que vous etes folle",  dit Elizabeth (Deteuire,,p.l03). The author has the following to say about her heroine: M.D.- Elle s'amene sur l a scene et elle cause; elle commence a poser des questions, Alissa, hein? Uniquement des questions. Elle est l a destruction, uniquement, Alissa, l a negation. Elle laisse le livre, Elizabeth Alione ...denudes. Detruire, c'est comme un preambule... (Les Parleuses, p.21). The death of Elizabeth Alione's child i s the "accident" which gives rise to the possibility of this destruction: — E l l e vous en a parle sans doute ... un accident idiot... Aucun signe d'aucun. —Au fond, c'etait plus moral qu'autre chose chez Elizabeth...Une femme ressent ces choses-la. comme des echecs.  Nous ne pouvons pas tout a.  f a i t comprendre, nous, les hommes... (DStruire.,p.113) This "accident" symbolizes the bottom line of experience i n the Durassian text, the experience that breaks up the usual paradigm, causing one to see the world differently.  In Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein, the text which  begins the self-portrait, i t i s represented by the absence of suffering by  -  18 -  Loi during the ball when her fiance walks away, before her very eyes, with another woman. Marguerite Duras refers to this "accident" in Les Parleuses; M.D. (...) La jalousie n'a pas ete vecue, l a douleur n'a pas ete vecue. Le chainon a saute, ce qui f a i t que dans l a chaine tout ce qui suit est faux, c'est a. un autre niveau. X.G.—C'est ce niveau-la qui est interessant, justement. M.D.—Oui, mais i l a f a l l u un accident. X.G.—Oui. Comme dans Detruire, a ce momentla, 1'accident serait 1'enfant mort, pour Elizabeth Alione? M.D.—Pour Elizabeth Alione, c'est 1'enfant mort (Les Parleuses. p.20-21). Detruire, dit-elle, a preamble centering on destruction, ends on a prophetic note:  "C'est l a musique sur le nom de Stein", says Alissa. As  the film ends a deafening symphony-like cacophany i s heard coming from the forest, the place that frightens both of the women, the forbidden space of the text (as opposed to the security of the park and the hotel).  To enter  the forest would be to enter into the unknown:"La foret de Detruire, c'est l'enfance" (Les Parleuses, p.135).  Music, the dimension of sound, "l'ecoute"  as i t will be referred to i n the next chapter of this study, i s the catalyst of transformation in the Durassian text.  Through music, the cries and  screams, and later the chant, we come to recognize the silence and refusal latent to the discourse of these texts.  As Michele Montrelay describes i t  in her psychoanalytical study of Le Ravissement' de Loi V. Stein: Les romans de Marguerite Duras deploient le meme monde de stupeur et de silence. Ce silence, cette non-parole, on pourrait montrer qu'elle exhibe, toujours, l a dimension fascinahte du manque feminin que Duras veuille  -  19 -  le faire "parler" comme c r i (Moderato Cantabile) ou comme "musique."13 The name "Stein" to which this "music" i s dedicated appears in Loi V. Stein and again later in Aurelia Steiner:  there i s a progression from  Loi, " l a folle", to Stein in the writer-to-be, and finally to Aureila Steiner, the writer.  It i s as though we must pass through the madness/fan-  tasy, "le chainon saute" of Loi Stein, the confrontation with destruction, absence and death— the "rien" which i s simultaneously object and nothing— before we reach Aurelia Steiner, the young writer of eighteen. not Jewish by chance:  The name i s  the great trauma of the century, the holocaust,  created a wound in the soul of the writer which the act of writing, a calling out. to others who are also calling, assuaged: C'est vrai que, historiquement, quand je serai morte et qu'on fera l'histoire de mes ecrits, on verra que j'ai recommence a ecrire avec Aurelia. Comme s i quelque chose etait assouvi, une douleur tres grande que je n'avals jamais exprimee. Parce que tout au long de ma vie, j ' a i essaye d'eviter de penser aux Juifs, d'abord parce que des gens s'opposaient a moi quand je le faisais, et ensuite, parce que je me disais, betement, en suivant les modeles imposes, qu'il y avait quelque chose, la, de morbide, alors qu'il faut en parler. Absolument. L'histoire des Juifs, c'est mon histoire. Puisque je l ' a i vecu dans cette horreur, je sais que c'est ma propre histoire. Alors j ' a i ose ecrire sur les Juifs.14 Traces of this trauma intermingle with the traumas of the writer's earlier childhood and come to join the larger river of the traumas of a l l oppressed groups — women, children, workers, the Jews — as the reader follows the paths of destruction, refusal, violence, passion, and finally of solitude that are woven into the fascinatingly transparent and arcane  -  20  -  tapestry of the Durassian text: La femme d Hiroshima est seule, elle a ete rendue a l a solitude par l a mort du jeune Allemand. Elle reste "seule meme dans le marriage, l a maternite. Anne-Marie Stretter est dans une solitude definitive. Et quand elle meurt, elle meurt seule. Lui ne fera aucun geste pour l'empecher de se tuer. II n'y a pas de solitude plus grande que celle d'Aurelia Steiner.15 1  Narcissus and Echo both remain alone at the end of the myth, he to die and be transformed into a flower, becoming pure image in a sense; she to become pure repetition, a voice haunting the lonely grottos forest.  of the  Solitude i s the definitive mark of the writer, particularly the  author of the self-portrait, in which both the writer and the reader witness, mirrored, the infinity of their own solitude in language and the individual's ceaseless desire in language to achieve communication: Lorsque nous ecrivons, lorsque nous appelons, deja. nous sommes pareils. Essayez. Essayez alors que vous etes seul dans votre chambre, libre, d'appeler ou de repondre au-dessus du gouffre. De vous melanger au vertige, a 1'immense maree des appels. Ce premier mot, ce premier c r i on ne sait pas le crier.  Autant appeler Dieu.  Et cela se f a i t .  C'est impossible. (  ^  #  ^  C Q V e r )  The Mute Refusal Before the transformation announced by the screams of the murdered woman in Moderato Cantabile, and before the unsettling tale of Lola Valerie Stein, D-urassian heroines exuded the apathy and inertia of l i f e  -  21 -  lived-out in a vacuum. Like Sara in Les Petits Ghevaux de Tarquinia (1953)» they are trapped in the eternal repetitions that characterize a woman's life:  the "beach for the summer vacation, the children, the home, the  husband. The possibility of adventure, of "love" in the form of a clandestine romance, alters this monotony only slightly, since the larger context of inertia surrounding that l i f e merely reflects the impossibility of such an event effecting any change. Oppression (silent and non-expressed) hangs over Sara's existence, suggested by the exhausting heat in a summer resort with only the occasional brief respite — a boat ride, a romantic encounter, the bitter Camparis from morning to evening. communicated by the repetitive language.  It i s also  Each of the four chapters begins  and ends with the same alternation of fleeting hope and crushing reality; the phrases themselves often vary only by a word or even by just a letter: Sara se leva tard. a elle-meme (p.?).  La chaleur etait la, egale  La chaleur etait s i grande qu'on aurait pu croire qu'il a l l a i t pleuvoir sans tarder, peutetre dans l'apres-midi. Elle s'endormait dans cet espoir (p.52). Mais lorsqu'elle s'eveilla, le temps, encore une fois, s'etait leve (p.53)* The second chapter ends on a slight variation of essentially the same theme of excruciating boredom: — l a . ou ailleurs, d i t Sara, i l faut bien passer ses vacances quelque part, non? —Sans doute, d i t - i l , mais-il hesite- je n'aime pas beaucoup cette fagon de voir (p.ll4). The third chapter takes up once again the leitmotif of suffocating heat and a hope for respite:  -  22 -  Le lendemain, l a chaleur etait toujours la, egale a elle-meme (p.115). La chaleur etait s i grande qu'on aurait pu croire qu'il a l l a i t pleuvoir sans tarder, dans 1'apres-midi. Elle s'endormait dans cet espoir (p.l68). The fourth begins with the same sentence as the second, this time with an extra letter only: Mais lorsqu'elle se reveilla, le temps, encore une fois, s'etait leve (p.169). Again i t ends with the night and the same small hope for the next day: Elle esperait que cette nuit-la, l a pluie arriverait, et elle s'endormait tres tard, dans cet espoir (p.221). That this l i f e i s s t i f l i n g , intolerably boring and repetitive, i s reflected again and again with the same rythmic insistance that draws the reader away from the search for ideas toward the hypnotic pull of the words forming and reforming the same patterns, inevitably augmenting the same feeling of incarceration and suffocation.  Echo i s trapped alone in the grottos and  caverns in her eternal repetition, throwing back answers as mirrored forms of the questions which are not hers to pose: L'autre jour, je t ' a i dit: qu'est-ce que tu as du souffrir pour ecrire ce que tu ecris. Et tu as dit: oui, j'ai du souffrir. Mais je pense que c'est comme 5a que le malheur s'inscrit. Toutes les femmes ont du souffrir sans le savoir., Quand elles te disent: au*est-ce que j'ai ete heureuse en telle annee, on est alle en vacances a Biarritz, les enfants etaient petits, etc. c'est pas vrai. Pas vrai. C'est l'homme. qui dictait ce faux bonheur, qui dictait §a: comme on est bien, aujourd'hui, ma cherie, i l f a i t beau... L'homme se reposait du travail. Nous, on n'avait pas besoin de 5a, de rien de pareil, mais de partir au contraire, de faire eclater cette faussete. On se reposait, forcee. Les plages rendaient folle d*ennui. ''' 1  -  23  -  The state of inertia and pervasive silence surrounding these women is their existential predicament, referred to by the author as a state of profound refusal: Qui precede le refus, l a separation? Mais je ne sais pas, voila., c'est qa. qui est etrange. Je les trouve deja. installes. Quand j'ai commence le film ou 1'Amour, c'etait deja l a . Alors, i l faut croire qu'il y a eu un livre avant 5a que je n'ai pas apergu, ou bien qui m'interesse pas. Un livre qui serait ca, cette separation, l a separation d'avec l a societe, qui porterait sur le f a i t de l a separation. Et dans les livres que j ' a i ecrits, i l s sont deja. separes, depuis tres, tres longtemps (les Parleuses, p.57). The outlines of the Durassian woman begin to form. Hers i s a mute history contained in her dwellings, circulating about freely i n nature, or trapped in relationships.  Her expression i s truncated, caught up i n  mutism, indifference, repetition, apathy, or simply l i e s . led  She i s finally  into madness and from there she eventually moves into freedom. At a  deep level there exists an unspoken refusal to play the roles that the patriarchal world has assigned to her.  Neither able to invent the rules,  nor bring to the surface the dilemma, she i s caught up in a fabric of lies, as i s i n the case of Suzanne Andler: Suzanna: Je me suis enfermee i c i pour me tuer je crois. Suzanna, sourire dechirant: Et puis j ' a i dormi. Jean, voix sourde: Pourquoi mourir Suzanna? Suzanna, temps: Oh...(sourire. plainte enfantine meles) Pour ne plus mentir peut-etre. (temps) Tu n'aurais pas ete l a seule ralson (Suzanne Andler, p.58). Loi V. Stein's fantasy l i f e — and i t i s here that the movement toward self-portraiture begins — i s ensconced in a web of lies protecting i t from the outside world:  -  24  -  Quand elle parle, quand elle bouge, regarde ou se distrait,- j'ai le sentiment d'avoir sous les yeux une fagon personnelle et capitale de mentir, un champ immense mais aux limites d'acier, du mensonge. Pour nous, cette femme ment sur T. Beach, sur S. Thala, sur cette - soiree, pour moi, pour nous, elle mentira tout a l'heure sur notre rencontre, je le prevois, elle ment sur elle aussi, pour nous elle ment parce que le divorce dans lequel nous sommes elle et nous, c'est elle seule qui l'a prononce-mais en silence-dans un reve s i fort qu'il l u i a echappe et qu'elle ignore l'avoir eu (L.V.S., p.106). A parallel might be drawn in the author's l i f e , since i t i s as a turning toward honesty that she describes the transition in her writing, leading eventually to the birth of a new voice in Aurelia Steiner: Pendant tres longtemps j'etais dans l a societe, je dxnais chez les gens. Tout ca etait un tout. J'allais dans les cockt a i l s , j'y voyals des gens... et je faisais ces livres-la. (Les Petits Ghevaux de Tarquinia, etc.) Voila, et puis, une fois, j'ai eu une histoire d'amour et je pense que c'est l a que ca a commence(...) Une experience erotique tres tres violente et — comment dire ca? — j'ai traverse une crise qui etait... suicidaire, cette femme qui veut etre tuee, je l ' a i vecu. ..et a partir de la. les livres ont change... J'ai pense a 5a depuis deux ans, deux, trois ans, je pense que le tournant, le virage vers... vers l a sincerite s'est produit l a (Les Parleuses, p.59)• The movement toward honesty i s a movement inward, a journey into the dark side of the self where the writer discovers and translates, invents with re-membered fragments; or i s i t that the invention i s now l e f t to the reader?  Who i s Loi V. Stein?  Where has she come from? What does her  wandering mean? What i s this word that refuses to appear, the word that would have prevented the couple from retreating before her fascinated gaze?  -  25 -  Manquant, ce mot, i l gache tous les autres, les contamine, c'est aussi le chien mort de l a plage en plein midi, ce trou de chair . (L.V.S., p.48) Is i t the "absence" within language which creates longing for the incarnation of the object i t s e l f , instead of the forming of an infinite chain of signifieds — the world of representation and metaphor?  Where Is woman's  language? Where i s the key to the coffer which i s the mystery that culture has buried her in? n'as pas de sens, Loi V. Stein, voyez, §a n'a pas de signification. Loi V. Stein, c'est ce que vous en faites, ga n'existe pas autrement, je crois que je viens de dire quelque chose la. sur elle (Les Lieux., p.101). The prison of Echo can also be seen i n the sanctity of the home, the space in which a woman need not speak, a space she knows and feels intimately, as she knows her own body, through a language of ritual acts. locked in:  She has been  "Je crois que l a maison de Natalie Granger, c'est une caverne,  c'est une grotte" (Les Parleuses,p.78).  Natalie Granger, ^ a film and text 1  produced and published i n 1973 (appearing i n the same, volume as La Femme du Gange) i s filmed in the writer's home, from where, later, i n the small auto20 biographical volume, Les Lieux de Marguerite Duras. she speaks with Michelle Porte of the significance of this home i n her work: Je vois Isabelle Granger comme prisonniere de cette demeure-ci, prisonniere d'elle-meme, de sa vie, de cette espece de circuit infernal qui va de l'amour de ses enfants a ses devoirs conjugaux, .comme on dit, vous voyez, et que c'est tout §a, tout ce contenu justement de sa vie qui est enferme i c i . C'est comme quand elle deambule l a , dans l a maison, c'est comme s i elle passait autour d'elle-meme, comme s i elle contournait son propre corps. Isabelle Granger m'apparait comme habitant totaDement l a maison,  -  26  -  comme s i elle en epousait meme le contour, comme s i l a maison elle-meme avait forme de femme (Les Lieux, p.20). In the film, Isabelle Granger and her friend pass the day in taciturn, ritual-like activities, the most important being the unpacking of her daughter's clothes: she w i l l no longer be going to school, having been expelled for her violence. Again there appears the "accident" which, disturbing the status quo, perturbs the reader's perspective, allowing another less stable world to be revealed to the senses.  No longer merely a place of  sanctimonious sequestration, the house opens up: Tout le monde y entre. Elle est ouverte et ce petit accident qui f a i t que l a petite f i l l e n'ira plus a l'ecole, dont on ne sait plus du tout ce qu'elle va devenir, qui f a i t que l a maison se casse. Bans l a chaine, ce chainon qui manque justement, l a petite delogee du social, ca, f a i t casser le reste... Elle s'ouvre (Les Parleuses. p. 113). Isabelle Granger i s preoccupied with the problem of her daughter's violence and of her refusal to play the piano, the only means, her mother believes, of curing the violence. The film revolves around the two women and their somnambulous and r i t u a l i s t i c presence in this house which seems to be organically part of them. They inhabit this space fully, seemingly to the exclusion of the outside intrusions which, f i r s t in the form of a radio announcement of a murder (a parallel to the daughter's violence), and later in the form of a door-to-door salesman, are experienced as violations and received in semi-mute disapprobation by the two women. The space i s in some essential way unapproachahle to the uninvited (uninitiated?) male, as the salesman uncomfortably experiences when his detailed "salespitch" for an automatic washer i s continually met with large pervasive  -  27  -  blocks of s i l e n c e from the two women: L'Homme: L'encombrement de l a 008 est minimum: 46, 81, 6 0 , (Arret) Qui d i t mieux sur toute l a place de P a r i s ? (Arret) Aucune machine en Europe n'a un encombrement a u s s i peu important... (Arret)  Sa II Le II  voix s'est modifiee, i l parle plus v i t e . a presque c r i e pour se dormer du courage. regard des femmes l e traverse. continue dans une sorte de desespoir.  The f i l m ends with a short sequence i n which the salesman crosses very q u i c k l y i n f r o n t of the house, a dog close a t h i s heels.  He i s  peering f u r t i v e l y over h i s shoulder a t the house as though he were being chased by a mythological beast.  Immediately p r i o r to t h i s , another b r i e f  sequence p a r a l l e l i n g the f l i g h t of the salesman i s f i l m e d a t the back of the house where the two women are seen walking towards a bonfire they have apparently b u i l t i n order to burn the branches that have f a l l e n from the trees i n a storm mentioned e a r l i e r i n the f i l m ;  a strong f e e l i n g of witch-  c r a f t pervades the scene: M.P.  Est-ce que ces femmes qu'on trouve dans vos f i l m s , dans vos l i v r e s , j e pense a l a femme de N a t a l i e Granger, e n f i n , I s a b e l l e Granger, a E l i z a b e t h Alione (Detruire, d i t - e l l e ) , a. Vera Baxter, dans Les Plages de L'Atlantique,(premier t i t r e du f i l m Baxter, Vera Baxter), est-ce que, d'une certaine maniere, ce ne sont pas encore des s o r c i e r e s de Michelet?  M.D.  On en est encore l a , nous l e s femmes... on en est encore l a . . . o u i . On en e s t l a . (Ja n'a pas vraiment bouge. Moi, dans cette maison-ci, avec ce j a r d i n , j e s u i s  -  28 -  dans des rapports que les hommes n'auront jamais avec un habitat, un lieu (Les Lieux., p.l4). During the middle ages while the men were off fighting wars, accord%  22  ing to the study Les Sorcieres  by Michelet, the women, l e f t to their own  resources, began in their loneliness to talk with nature, and to each othesr in new ways. Feared by others for what appeared to the Christian mind as heresy, they were subsequently persecuted and burned at the stake. Modem women are again moving towards each other in an effort to regain the power and status in society that male-dominated culture has thus far denied them; from the perspective of the female writer, the goal i s to experience what i t is to think and write as a woman, — and to relate this experience to others — from the place of being a woman. This involves, according to Marguerite Duras in Les Parleuses and Beatrice Didier in L'Ecriture-femme, mentally three central characteristics:  J  funda-  the importance of space arising  from an intimate connection with the body and with the home, a movement towards other women, especially the mother to whom a woman's identity i s closely tied, and finally an experiencing of desire as a limitless passion refusing the confines of male-defined sexuality.  At a textual level these  traits become manifest in Marguerite Duras' work, for instance, in a writing which refuses traditional categories, moving away from the linearity of narration towards the circularity and simultaneity of images in space, as the present study w i l l demonstrate.  Interconnections, in the feminine text,  like woven patterns in fabric, seem to depend more on juxtaposing, as in figures such as metonymy and synesthesia, than on metaphor and the traditional symbol.  In other words, language appears in a more rudimentary  state, with connections left for the reader to make.  29  -  The earth,for a woman, i s not merely a womb to which one returns, nor i s the female self-portraitist, like the male self-portraitist described by Michel Beaujour, merely a lonely knight errant who has been expelled from 24 the mother's womb.  A woman too leaves the womb; but she also has the  potential of becoming womb and eventually, a mother, who expels from her womb, the future knight errant.  Herein lies the source of woman's guilt,  according to Marguerite Duras: L*accouchement,je le vois comme une culpabilite. Comme s i l'on lachait l'enfant, qu'on l'abandonne. (Les Lieux., p.23) Her story i s thus a different one from that of the male from whose language she i s now trying to create her own image. Natalie Granger  depicts the more accessible world of the earlier  works by the author, such as La Musica, Suzanna Andler, and i t s later version, Baxter, Vera Baxter; i t s accessibility resides in i t s similarity to the stable world we know, the world relating to the home and recognizable relationships.  In contrast, La Femme du Gange forms a link to that other,  floating, disconnected world which unfolds from the "accident" which i s the absence of suffering and subsequent fantasy and wandering of Loi V. Stein. This other world has more to do with the powerful unconscious or archetypal world of the writer;  i t i s a world by the sea (mer/mere) where the same  characters circulate, gradually losing their identity — here i s the terrain of permanent wandering from which the voice of Aurelia w i l l eventually emerge: Si yous me demandez ou est l a maison de Natalie Granger, je dirai qu'elle est dans les v i l l a s vides qu'on voit dans La Femme du-Gange. J'ai pas pu supporter de rester  -  30 -  sur ce film. J'ai f i n i Natalie Granger en septembre et je l ' a i tourne en novembre. J'ai pas pu rester du tout sur le terrain de Natalie Granger, qui est quand meme un terrain didactique, a mon avis(...) La Femme du Gange, c'est un bateau... qui est parti. C'est le contraire de l a maison, i l s ne rentrent plus nulle part. (Les Parleuses p.79)  Mother and Daughter Perhaps even more important to the present study of self-portraiture in the writing of Marguerite Duras than the relationship of love between man and woman (a central and deeply troubled sphere in the "India Song" texts) i s that between daughter and mother.  In the words of Beatrice  Didier in L'Ecriture-femme: L'ecriture devient alors un moyen de reconstruire, de ressusciter le corps de l a mere. Bien evidemment parce que le recit toujours revient a elle, mais aussi parce que l'acte d'ecrire, en particulier un texte autobiographique (et tous ne le sonti l s pas plus ou moins) apparaxt fondamental comme l'acte magique qui permet de faire surgir son propre visage au miroir de l a morte.25 In Natalie Granger, for example, one has the strong sense that the mother and daughter are locked together — within themselves and within the house — in a shared state of violent and mute refusal:  La pose de l a mere l a regardant rapelle celle de 1'enfant. Toutes deux isolees dans une violence de meme nature, sauyage: celle de l'amour, celle du refus (Natalie Granger, p.69). Recalling the Narcissus and Echo myth, i t was Hera, the too often thwarted wife of Zeus, who in a f i t of jealous rage condemned the  -  31  -  f u l l y babbling Echo to her l i f e of repetition.  Since the nymphs, being  young and semi-divine creatures, f i t easily into the role of children to the gods, i t follows that a closer look at the story of Hera could prove i n sightful in relationship to the mother/daughter motif so prevalent in the Durassian text.  The Hera archetype, according to an article in Spring  26  (1976),  has three cycles:  Pais ( g i r l or virgin), Teleia (perfect one or  f u l f i l l e d one) and Ghera (widow).  Her perfection, potentially to be  brought about by her marriage to Zeus, i s thwarted since Zeus w i l l not be married to her in more than a token way, nor allow her to be deeply married to him.  It i s this that makes a Ghera (widow) of Hera and constitutes her  infernal destructiveness. A powerfully ambivalent role i s played by the mother figure in Marguerite Duras' writing, tantamount — or developed level —  though often at a less conscious  to that played by erotic love.  The relationship, for  instance, between the two Durassian heroines central to the self-portrait, Loi V. Stein and Anne-Marie Stretter, has strong mother/daughter intonations. Anne-Marie Stretter i s the mother of two daughters and i s portrayed as old enough to be the mother of eighteen-year-old Loi.  At the end  of the ball scene recounted at the beginning of Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein (the moment which best signifies the beginning of the movement into the identity quest that the self-portrait reveals), as Anne-Marie Stretter glides from the room on the arm of Lol's fiance, Lol's mother rushes into the room to comfort her daughter who i s hiding behind the plants i n a stupor, her friend Tatiana Karl sitting across from her. The story of the beggar woman, " l a mendiante," which begins in Le Yice-Gonsul and from which fragments w i l l be seen in subsequent texts, to  -  32  -  parallel and intertwine with the decomposing story of the famous ball from Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein,, reveals a powerful tale, mythological in dimension, of a mother/daughter relationship.  The jealous mother chases  from the house the daughter of seventeen who has "fallen" pregnant by the father;  this reality i s turned into metaphor in the following passage as  the beggar woman loses step by step, in her fabulous wandering, f i r s t her memory, then her f e r t i l i t y , and finally her sanity: Sauf par anicroches quand elle se blesse le pied sur un eclat de mar ore, par exemple, elle a tendance a oublier l'origine, qu'elle a ete chassee parce qu'elle est tombee enceinte, d'un arbre, tres haut, sans se faire de mal, tombee enciente (p.20). The cruel mother who has chased the daughter from the home, a home and mother the daughter only ceases longing for once she i s firmly cut off in her own madness, f a l l s into the category of the Ghera, a pathogenically vindictive and jealous mother.  This, according to an interesting study  cited in the above mentioned article, i s Hera within the context of a reigning patriarchy:  gone i s the "generous, co-equal Hera Teleia of the  previous epoch, the shrew i s centre stage": With acid irony Philip E. Slater t i t l e d his indictment of classical Greek society The Glory of Hera. Misogyny, he argues, was the worm at the core of that society, and the long l i s t of the pathological characteristics rampant in the males of 5th century Athens — narcissism, homosexuality, over-weaning pride (hubris), competitiveness, even schizophreniaI — i s laid f l a t l y at the door of this woman and wife degrading attitude. In Slater's view, the angry, conflicted, and humiliated women who had to play wife and mother to these wretched specimens of the male sex are the proximate cause of this sick state of affairs; the ultimate cause i s the attitude of the patriarchal society toward women. Thus Hera,  - 33  as t h e image o f t h i s p e r s e c u t e d woman, i s both v i c t i m and v i c t i m i z e r , and i n h e r v i c t i m i z a t i o n o f h e r c h i l d r e n she i s f i g h t i n g a g a i n s t t h e v i c t i m i z a t i o n d e a l t her.2? The most p o w e r f u l example o f t h e v i c t i m i z e d woman i n M a r g u e r i t e Duras' work i s t o be found i n t h e a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l n o v e l Un B a r r a g e c o n t r e Le P a c i f i q u e . Widowed w i t h two c h i l d r e n t o r a i s e , t h e woman, t h e a u t h o r ' s mother, has t h e g r e a t m i s f o r t u n e t o be s o l d , u n s u s p e c t i n g l y , a p i e c e o f w o r t h l e s s l a n d a t t h e mouth o f t h e Mekong r i v e r which was i n u n d a t e d l a r l y by t h e s e a .  regu-  The b i t t e r n e s s and g r a d u a l s e n i l i t y brought on by a hope-  l e s s b a t t l e a g a i n s t c o r r u p t a d m i n i s t r a t o r s who, by s e l l i n g h e r t h e l a n d , had p e r p e t r a t e d h e r e n d l e s s h a r d s h i p s , i s t h e ground from which t h e l a t e r w r i t i n g o f t h e daughter w i l l o r i g i n a t e .  Perhaps t h e mother saw h e r daughter  as doomed t o s u f f e r by t h e system, a s she had, f o r , a s t h e e a r l y a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l works r e f l e c t , i t was toward t h e e l d e r son t h a t she d i r e c t e d h e r 28 hope and h e r l o v e .  I n a s h o r t essay e n t i t l e d Mothers,  M a r g u e r i t e Duras  r e v e a l s t h e e x c l u s i o n she f e l t b e f o r e t h e i n c r e d i b l e l o v e h e r mother demons t r a t e d f o r t h a t other, o l d e r brother schooled i n France. l o v e between mother and son was t h e s u b j e c t o f a n o t h e r work Des J o u r a e e s e n t i e r e s dans l e s a r b r e s (1954).  y  This fabulous  semi-autobiographical  B e g i n n i n g w i t h an  o b l i q u e r e f e r e n c e t o t h i s work, t h e w r i t e r d e s c r i b e s h e r mother's death w i t h an a c u t e l y p a i n f u l i n s i g h t i n t o h e r own n o n - e x i s t e n c e t h a t o v e r p o w e r i n g l y e x c l u s i v e l o v e o f mother f o r s o n : . Non,. e l l e n ' e s t pas. morte a u r e t o u r de c e t t e d e r n i e r e v i s i t e a son f i l s , de ce d e r n i e r voyage en Europe. E l l e e s t morte beaucoup p l u s t a r d , chassee p a r l a g u e r r e , l o i n de c e t t e Indochine q u i e t a i t devenue s a pa t r i e . S e u l e , a" q u a t r e - v i n g t s a n s . E l l e n'a reclame' qu'une s e u l e pre*sence, c e l l e de ce f i l s . J ' e t a i s dans l a chambre,  i n the face of  - 34  je les a i vus s* embrasser en pleurant, desesperes de se separer. Ils ne m'ont pas vue. 30 There i s a childhood event linking Marguerite Duras very strongly to her mother which- reverberates throughout the self-portrait.  It i s the i n -  credible story of the beggar woman and her starving baby which she forces upon the white woman and her daughter: La femme qui avait un pied malade avait mis huit jours pour venir de Ram; tout le long de l a route elle avait essaye de dormer son enfant. Dans les villages ou elle s'etait arretee on l u i avait dit: "Allez jusqu'a Bante, i l y a une femme blanche qui s'interesse aux enfants." La femme avait reussi a arriver jusq'a l a concession. Elle expliqua a l a mere que son enfant l a genait pour retourner dans l e Nord et qu'elle ne pourrait jamais l a porter jusque la. Une plaie terrible l u i avait devore le pied a. partir du talon(...) (Un Barrage contre Le Pacifique, p.119-20). In an article entitled "L'Histoire de l a mendiante indienne", Madeleine Borgomano traces the origin of this "primitive" scene in the writing and l i f e of Marguerite Duras: L'histoire de 1'apparition explicite dans 1'oeuvre durassienne de l a mendiante est significative. "Casee" dans un recoin ecarte du roman de l'enfance, roman des origines en 1950, elle se trouve ensuite "occultee" (note: le terme est de Marguerite Duras dans Les Parleuses) pendant seize ans jusqu'au roman Le Vice-Gonsul dans lequel elle resurgit, avec l'Indochine et l'enfance.31 She then quotes from a recorded interview made by the author during the writing of Le Yice-Consul, disclosing the authenticity and poignancy of the memory in the writer's l i f e : Ma mere, une fois, est revenue du marche ayant achete un enfant... une petite f i l l e  -  35  -  de six mois... qu'elle n'a gardee que quelques jours et qui est morte. C'est un souvenir tres violent... toujours tres vivant, et que j'ai essaye de caser deja dans un livre, un de mes premiers livres: Le Barrage contre Le Pacifique (...) Je revois ma mere traversant le jardin avec cette femme qui l a suivait, cette femme qui avait. dans les bras un enfant Ma mere pleurait...... elle etait toujours tres en colere, comme 5a... contre l a misere... Je me souviens de cet entetement, de cette volonte fantastique de dormer son enfant.32 The link which carries this event from a childhood memory, recounted during the autobiographical phase of her writing, forward into the mature phase of her writing referred to here as self-portraiture, i s in the mother and "femme fatale" figure, Anne-Marie Stretter, since i t i s supposedly from a story told by her that the creator of the tale of the beggar woman in Le Vice-Consul, Peter Morgan, invents his story: La vente d'une enfant a ete racontee a Peter Morgan par Anne-Marie Stretter. Anne-Marie Stretter a assiste a cette vente i l y a dix-sept ans, vers Savannakhet. Les dates ne coincident pas. La: mendiante est trop jeune pour etre celle qu'a vue Anne-Marie Stretter. Cependant Peter Morgan a f a i t du recit d'AnneMarie Stretter un episode de l a vie de l a mendiante (Le Vice-Consul, p.72). Here i s an example of the constant play between memory and imagination, forgetting and inventing, at work in these texts, creating the contradictions which in turn cause the reader to set aside rational linear thinking for total immersion in the rythmic flow of the sensorial images forming this universe of emerging childhood.  The chant "Savanna-  khet", the doleful plaint of the beggar woman that settles over the heavy violet atmosphere of the summer monsoon at the beginning of the film  -  36 -  India Song, evokes a powerful connection with the past, for this i s what Anne-Marie Stretter recognizes, Savannakhet having been her home before Calcutta: On Dit: A Calcutta on ne sait pas encore aujourd'hui s i elle etait releguee au fond de l a honte ou de l a douleur a Savannakhet lorsqu'il l'a trouvee (Le Vice-Consul, p.99). To go hack to Savannakhet ("Ca va a. quete", as i t has been translated)^ one discovers in these texts, i s synonymous with the writer's return to childhood and to the mother's misery which was i t s essence: La presence de l a mere prend inevitablement pour les femmes un autre sens que pour les hommes, puisque leur mere est leur exacte matrice, leur prefiguration. D'autant plus sensible que l'a'ge de 1'autobiographie est souvent celui de l a maturite, et du moment ou elles s a i s i ssent l a ressemblance avec leur mere, ayant alors l'age qu'elle avait lors de leur enfance. Le retour a. l a mere est un fascinant retour au meme, ou plutot a l a meme. 34 Ann-Marie Stretter i s like a surrogate mother in the writer's imagination, for she also i s an authentic figure from her childhood; her 35 real name was Elizabeth S t r i e d l e r : ^ C'est un des personnages dominants de mon enfance. Je l ' a i vraiment connue; j'ai connu ses f i l l e s aussi. Elle etait l a femme de 1'administrateur general du poste de Vinh-Long sur le Mekong, et je l ' a i vue souvent, j'avals huit ans, je. m'en souviens bien. Je ne me suis pas trompee d'ailleurs. Elle etait vraiment ce que j'ai dit: elle etait rousse, elle avait les yeux clairs, elle avait beaucoup d'amants. Un de ses amants s'est suicide. Tout etait juste. Les enfants voient bien... 36  -  37 -  At that very impressionable age the image of a beautiful and mysterious woman enters the imagination of the future writer;  around her, as  around the incident of the beggar woman and the child, will weave the fascinating threads of the author's childhood i n that foreign land.  From this  same matrix there w i l l eventually emanate Aurelia Steiner,. an identity associated with a different voice, an altered way of seeing.  The Crisis and the Beginning of an Identity Quest In his study of the rhetoric of the self-portrait, Miroirs d'encre, 37 Michel Beaujour poses the question:  "Un roman peut-il etre autoportrait?"  However, his reply, referring to Philippe Lejeune's study of autobiography, Le Pacte Autobiographique (1973) leaves the problem untouched: "En 1'absence d'un 'pacte autobiographique',  l a question doit rester irresolue,"  The  definition of "autobiography" given by Phillipe Lejeune i n Le Pacte autobiographique is:"Recit retrospectif en prose qu'une personne reelle f a i t de sa propre existence, lorsqu'elle met 1'accent sur sa vie individuelle, * 39 en particulier sur l'histoire de sa personnalite."  Lejeune, however,  has considerably broadened his defining criteria when, in a recent article, he quotes the following from Vapereau's Dictionnaire universel des litteratures  (l&79): Autobiographie(...), oeuvre litteraire, roman, poeme, traite philosophique etc., dont l'auteur a eu 1'intention, secrete ou avouee, de raconter sa vie, d'exposer ses perisees ou de peindre ses sentiments.^  u  He now focuses his attention on the possibility of a "secret" i n tention, obfuscating the once clear question of an autobiographical pact:  -  38  -  Qui decidera de 1'intention de l'auteur, s i elle est secrete? Le lecteur, bien sur. Ce second sens dii mot reflete done, autant qu'un nouveau type d'ecriture, 1'emergence d'une nouvelle maniere de l i r e . ^ 0  The interest of Beaujour's study, in relationship to the present examination of the identity quest in the writing of Marguerite Duras, i s precisely his contrasting of the relatively newer genre of the literary self-portrait with the more traditional genre of the autobiography:  i t is  against the formal matrix of autobiography that he develops his thesis of a rhetoric of self-portraiture.  In a similar way, the later works of  Marguerite Duras can be seen as an amorphous, achronological outpouring and reaction against the organized story-telling of her earlier writings, as though she were following then, formulae she now refuses.  Since there i s  no "autobiographical pact" in her works being considered here, the selfportrait i s expressed through the language i t s e l f , with the events camouflaged in the fiction.  Seeing these texts as self-portraiture i s thus an  interpretation, a thesis requiring justification and defence.  The adoption  of this perspective was i n i t i a l l y inspired by certain characteristics of this type of writing as outlined by Beaujour, namely:  the dominance of  space over time, the idea of writing as an adventure into the domain of pure language, the dimension of the quest, and the cryptic or hermetic quality resulting, which relates this genre to the concept of "text" or "production of the text": "Le texte est une productivite. Cela ne veut pas dire qu'il est le produit d'un travail (tel que pouvaient l'exiger l a narration et l a maitrise du style), mais le theatre meme d'une production ou se rejoignent le producteur du texte et son lecteur: le texte 'travaille', a chaque  -  39  -  moment de quelque cote qu'on le prenne; meme ecrit (fixe), i l n'arrete pas de travailler, d'entretenir un processus de production."^! The role of the reader takes on a new importance as "co-producer" in the text.  This aspect becomes increasingly apparent in the "India Song"  texts of Marguerite Duras. A literary self-portrait, as opposed to the more rigorously organized autobiography, i s f i r s t of a l l , according to Beaujour's study, "un montage": a more loosely and intuitively organized rendering of selected events in a person's l i f e , answering the question "who am I?" rather than the more prosaic underlying question in autobiography;  "what have I done?"  It i s ,  consequently, an assemblage of images connecting more directly to feeling than to a rational process of recording certain chronologically ordered events. To generalize, in such writing time w i l l depend upon space i n stead of the converse, the situation in the traditional novel. This transformation from the temporal to the atemporal i s seen equally in the modern concept of the "text" here described by Genette in Figures II: Depuis Mallarme nous avons appris a reconnaxtre ( a. re- connaitre) les ressources dites visuelles de l a graphie et de l a mise en page et 1'existence du livre comme une sorte d'objet total, et ce changement de perspective nous a rendus plus attentifs a l a spatialite de l'ecriture, a l a disposition atemporelle et reversible des signes, des mots, des phrases, du discours dans l a simultaneite de ce qu'on nomme un texte. "Who am I" i s destined to remain an open question, transformed ultimately into a permanent quest, since the goal of knowing, no less than that of stating, "who am I", i s an impossible one to attain. words the autobiographer knows certain time limits:  In other  birth and death;  whereas the self-portraitist i s plunged deeply into the metaphysical  -  40 -  dimension of an endless present which the act of writing makes manifest. This i s where the etymological connection between "texf'and "tissu" i s perceived, as observed by Genette: (...) texte, c'est-a-dire (comme un) tissu de figures ou le temps (ou, comme on dit, l a vie) de l'ecrivain ecrivant et celui (celle) du lecteur lisant se nouent ensemble et se retordent dans le milieu paradoxal de l a page et du volume.44 It w i l l be in the second part of this study, when the fictional journal of Aurelia Steiner i s discussed, that the significance of an "endless present of the text" will be most strongly f e l t . Following the transition brought about by the crisis i n her l i f e recounted in fictionalized form in Moderato Cantabile, the writing of Marguerite Duras becomes increasingly hermetic, at once poetic and "pared" down: adjectives and eventually pronouns become sparce, disappear, verbs and phrases are repeated like echos, substantives and superlatives abound, and, most important, the image prevails.  The passage from La Femme du  Gange cited earlier (p.8) illustrates the transparent effect created by this style.  It i s as though the distance created between the reader and  the text, i n the act of telling which dominates the narrative, had been reduced to a minimum: we move about, carried by the rythm of the sentences — like the short chopping strokes of waves — in a world where words are autonomous. As Dominique Noguez expresses i t : (...) 1'ecriture de Marguerite Duras — ces bribes calcinees, quelques verbes repet.es, substantifs sans chairs (sans le gras des adjectifs, des pronoms) — son ecriture non seulement litteraire, mais aussi cinematographique, est en adequation, en equivalence parfaite avec ce qu'elle signifie. Genette, reprenant  -  41 -  Hjelmslev (la grande critique aidee de l a grande linguistique) dirait: 1'expression et le contenu ont l a meme forme. 45 Her writing, however, did not start at this point of "adequation" but attained i t through an evolutionary process involved primarily with the destruction of what we have traditionally come to know as reading and writing. For instance, while writing in the autobiographical mode, Marguerite Duras would t e l l stories, permitting herself to paint the inner thoughts of her characters, thus giving them a contrived depth and autonomy. Suzanne, in Un Barrage contre le Pacifique, for example has sentiments which she expresses as would any young g i r l feeling the advent of womanhood: Suzanne s'asseyait contre l a croisee. Le bruit du tram arrivait assourdi jusque dans l a chambre. Mais tout ce que Suzanne voyait de l a v i l l e , d ' i c i , c'etait son grand fleuve a. moitie recouvert par des nuees de grandes jonques qui venaient du Pacifique et par les remorquers du port. Carmen avait tort de s'inquieter pour elle. Deja, a force de voir tant de films, tant de gens s'aimer, tant de departs, tant d'enlacements, tant d'embrassements definitifs, tant de solutions, tant et tant, tant de predestinations, tant de delaissements cruels, certes, mais inevitables, fatals, deja ce que Suzanne aurait voulu c'etait quitter l a mere (Un Barrage contre le Pacifique, p.203). In this autobiographical novel the mother, in her pathetic battle against the sea, forms a center around which the world revolves, and, against which i t finally reacts, as this passage reveals;  in the later  "India Song" texts, i t i s the sea itself that plays this central role, but instead of the unifying effect experienced previously, the latter creates  -  kz  a dispersing or disseminating effect.  -  In L'Amour, La Femme du Gange and  Son Norn de Venise dans Calcutta desert, the characters wander homeless, as though cut off from a center and stranded on the sandy beach where the sea predominates. The f l u i d language of the text here imitates the liquid landscape i t i s painting, a seascape that has attained the same mysterious autonomy as the characters: Quelque part sur l a plage, a dr.oite de celui qui regarde, un mouvement lumineux: une flaque se vide, une source, des fleuves, sans repit, alimentent le gouffre de sel (L'Amour, p.8). This fluidity of language in turn reflects the  attentive listening by the  author to the flow of words combining image and feeling, memories, perhaps from childhood where heart and feelings formed a house open and exposed to the violences offered by l i f e : M.D.  ..) ces livres sont douloureux, a ecrire, a l i r e et que cette douleur devrait nous mener vers un champ..., i l s sont douloureux, c'est douloureux, parce que c'est un travail qui porte sur une region... non encore creusee, peut-etre.  X.G.  Non encore mise a jour.  M.D.  C'est ce blanc de l a chaine dont vous parliez. Je ne veux pas dire psychanalyse... ce feminin, s i vous voulez. Non? (Les Parleuses, p.18).  A very different outward expression of a unique inner landscape now influences the writing, for the characters arrive on the page as though unfinished.  Nameless and wandering in. somnolent fashion, they retrace an  event of which they have l i t t l e or no memory —  they exhibit a set of  primitive-like reactions relating always to something which has already taken place.  Like Echo in the transformative myth of Narcissus, they seem  -  43  -  somehow condemned to repeat in strange hallucinatory movements and hauntingly repetitive language, the events which have gone before them: reflecting and repeating, repeating and reflecting.  The narration i s  thus reduced to a sort of panoramic view of the exterior of the characters with gestures/ absence of gestures, movements/ absence of movements, looks/ absence of looks, sounds/ silences taking on new significance, leaving the question of identity open to pure speculation — tion of the reader.  the inven-  The following description of " l a femme" in L'Amour,  in comparison with the above description of Suzanne, i s completely exteriorized:  a woman as pure object i s here painted in the attitude of refusal,  the insignia of the Durassian heroine: La femme est regardee. Elle se tient les jambes allongees. Elle est dans l a lumiere obscure, encastree dans le mur. Yeux fermes. Ne ressent pas etre vue. Ne sait pas etre regardee. Elle tient face a, l a mer. Visage blanc. Mains a. moi tie enfouies dans le sable, immobiles comme le corps. Force arretee, deplacee vers 1'absence. Arretee dans son mouvement de fuite. L * ignorant,s'ignorant (L'Amour,  p.10)  When reading L'Amour one exists, in a strangely volunerable sense, inside language, at one, or so i t seems, with the emotions that appear to cling to the broken phrases, f a l l i n g away and returning like the cycle of day and night upon the beach.  One becomes immersed, through the unusual  staccatto-like rythm of the language, in the same emotion — emotion —  or absence of  that compels the words, like the characters, to dissemble and  reassemble continuously with hypnotic fluidity on the otherwise empty beach. The "absence" (of Lol's suffering the night of the ball? "le  _ 44- -  chainon saute", the "accident") i s curiously always present in this group of  texts originating from the same source, the famous end of a summer hall at  T-Beach f i r s t recounted at the beginning of Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein. Michele Montrelay describes this absence (which she sees as haunting a l l women's writing) in these terms: En ecrivant, un homme se separe de L'Autre avec les mots, avec leur substance feminine dont i l s'assure simultanement qu'un reste demeure sur le papier. Avec les mots, les femmes ont une autre relation. I l s sont le prolongement d'elles-memes. S i , comme le dit Helene Gixous dans La Jeune Nee, elles risquent dans l'angoisse tout leur etre quand i l leur faut "prendre l a parole", c'est qu'elles savent que I'espace ou les mots vont resonner, souvent denature et refuse.^ Language considered in i t s "feminine" substance, as "other", the "mother tongue", i s language considered from the male perspective, the perspective from which i t has been developed. Within such a male-defined corpus, woman can only experience language in i t s "productive" state in the text -the relationship of the writer to language in the self-portrait — as a return to self or the same, and in so doing i t , forms a contiguity from which she necessarily has difficulty separating herself. Although for the most part the analysis of Beaujour i s restricted to carefully chosen works ( a l l written by males!) in which the autobiographical pact i s present, he also alludes frequently to the proximity of the self-portrait, whose language often appears in the larval ("neotonie") stage, to other modern, unique, literary adventures: Ce phenomene de neotonie et d'inachevement est analogue a ce qu'on appelait naguere en France l a signifiance, l a production du texte, le travail du signifiant et, plus recemment, 1'ecriture dite mineure ou feminine. II s'agit  -  45  -  dans les deux cas d'une espece de prematuration, le texte etant livre au public en un moment de sa genese, au stade du brouillon.^7 Marguerite Duras refers to her works quite simply as "texts", describing the language in an analogous manner: Moi quand je dis mes textes, je les laisse a l'etat de decomposition, leurs elements gramaticaux epars. Je ne m'occupe jamais de rejoindre un sens. C'est a vous de le faire. Je l a laisse dans un etat pantelant, l a phrase. Et c'est pour §a que §a peut s'ecouter. ° Discovering the sense and making the connections becomes a search which i s based upon questioning every limb we reach out to grasp for support — so we learn to float and f a l l , much like Alice down the rabbit's hole to wonderland. The very antithesis of writing with a reassuring plot and secure narrative, the Durassian text which follows Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein i s instead a "recherche qui aboutit a en savoir de moins en moins, mais a, comprendre que cette descente vers le neant est l a seule 49 connaissance." ' Loi V. Stein represents a progressive loss of identity, the unconscious living out of that refusal latent to the Durassian female consciousness, becoming aware of i t s e l f in a society from which female consciousness of self has been excluded: Ce fut la. ma premiere decouverte a. son propos: ne rien savoir de Loi etait l a conna£tre deja. On pouvait, me paraiti l , en savoir moins encore, de moins en moins sur Loi V. Stein, (L.V.S., p.81) The loss of identity defining the identity quest in this group of texts i s indeed ironically ambiguous. Female identity restricted to the role of mother and mate to man, an identity reinforced by men in defense of  -  46 -  their patriarchal power and stereotyped "by a long l i s t of qualities: passive, inferior, giving, receptive etc., i s an identity which the Durassian heroines such as Loi, Anne-Marie Stretter, the beggar woman, and their later surrogate "La Femme", are mere shadows of — or reaction against.  From this ground of repression and silence arise the rich re-  sources of potential power that belong to modern woman. Thus the ambiguity. This female power i s associated with a primeval "force" and i s very different from male power, associated with aggression and domination.  The  contrast between these two modes of being w i l l become clearer when the texts are considered more closely in their movement from "le regard" to "l'ecoute", the subject of Part II. This identity search (paradoxically qualified by a progressive loss of identity) i s f i r s t recognized in the name "Loi V. Stein".  During her  illness following the ball, Lola Valerie Stein rejects her name, in anger: Elle prononcait sonnom avec colere: Loi V. Stein — c'etait ainsi qu'elle se designait (L.V.S., p.23). Loi:  two " l ' s " like the "deux ailes" of the casino at T-Beach limiting  the emptiness of the center following the ball, in turn a reflection of the emptiness of the young woman projected into the scene before her eyes: "o"- nothing, "rien", neutered thing: Au centre de T-Beach, d'une blancheur de l a i t , immense oiseau pose, ses deux ailes regulieres bordees de balustrades, sa terrasse surplombante, ses coupoles vertes, ses rodomontades, ses fleurs, ses anges, ses guirlandes, ses ors, sa blancheur toujours de l a i t , de neige, de sucre, le casino municipal. . (L.V.S., p.176) As witnessed by the text L'Amour, Loi becomes that space containing the ball, and by extension, the S. Thala (the spelling has changed) which i s  -  the town of her childhood. in the middle:  4? -  The "V" of Loi V. Stein i s like a clean cut  the feminine sex or the slice dividing the nothingness of  the "o" flanked by the two graceful " l ' s " from the petrified identity of the father:  Stein from the greek petros-"pierre".  As Jacques Lacan play-  fully analyses i t : Loi V. Stein: ailes de papier, V, ciseau, Stein, l a pierre, au jeu de l a mourre tu te perds.50 Or, in the more psychoanalytically charged terms of Michele Montrelay: Loi n'a pas ete detachee de l ' i n f i n i de l a douleur. Personne n'a jamais pu trancher, la separer d'aucun objet(...) Le fractionnement i n i t i a l de l'etre, ou Bejahung, n'a pas eu lieu. Dans sa misere, Loi ne perd rien. Horreur d'etre Loi V. Stein, intacte et toute sans repit. Tout ange ou toute bete. Tout entiere ravie dans l'amour, tout entiere dechue comme chose. Toute Loi repandue ou toute Stein petrifiee.51 Is i t the horror of an identity which exists only in relationship with the opposite sex, a tenuous identity subject at any moment to rejection? Loi i s eventually lost, the name disappearing, with only the space of the ball remaining,  The name Stein, however, continues like a tradition,  a solid stone structure — or perhaps the materiality of language?  Stein -  stone might then be likened to the Sphinx which represents, according to the analysis of Beaujour, the buried other half of our psyche, symbolized by the hieroglyph which has been subsumed by our phonetic writing. Derrida's L'Ecriture et La difference in support of this concept: Le mot de l'enigme, Serit Derrida, l a parole d'Oedipe, le discours de l a conscience, l'homme de"truit, dissipe ou precipite le petroglyphe. A l a stature du Sphinx, animalite de 1'esprit endormi dans le signe pierreux, mediation entre  He quotes  -  48 -  l a matiere et l'homme, duplicite de 1'intermediaire, correspond l a figure de Thoth, dieu de 1'ecriture.52 53 We learn in Derrida's essay "La Pharmacie de Platon"^ that the god of writing, Thoth, i s also closely associated with death and the soul, i n other words the repressed "feminine" side of consciousness.  Tracing the  unravelling of the ball scene from text to text reveals a portrait of the woman as writer and of writing and language i t s e l f from a renewed "feminine" perspective.  Loi V. Stein i s the young woman of eighteen who i s l e f t  "ravished", both "rapt" (her soul carried off like Persephone from the f i e l d of narcissi into the underworld) by the shock of seeing her fiance with another woman, and "enraptured", for she, like the others, f a l l s under the powerful spell of the beautiful, older woman, Anne-Marie Stretter.  Eighteen -  ill-fated and charmed age of the onset of womanhood? It i s with this age that Marguerite Duras later in L'Amant (1984) associates her "visage detruit": "Non, i l est arrive quelque chose lorsque j'ai eu dix-huit ans qui a f a i t que ce visage a eu lieu," (L'Amant, p.18). The central "daughter" heroines are a l l of this same age:  Alissa of Detruire, dit-elle. and the  Loi V. Stein of the beginning of Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein and'of L'Amour: — Dix-huit ans — i l ajoute — C e t a i t votre age (L'Amour, p.III). as well as in La Femme du Gange where she remains only a mute image on the screen: Voix 2 00. s' etaient-ils rencontres? J'ai oublie. Voix I Un matin.  Au tennis. I c i a S. Thala.  -  49  -  Elle avait dix-huit ans. II etait le f i l s de grands proprietaires terriens. II ne faisait rien,. Le mariage devait avoir lieu a l'automne (F.du G., p.113), Aurelia (aural,perceived/perceiving by the ear) Steiner (the stone of the hieroglyph, the materiality of language), whose name appears to unit, mysteriously, the two sides of language, i s the f i r s t Durassian heroine to attain the status of writer.  She too i s eighteen years old:  Je m'appelle Aurelia Steiner. J'habite Vancouver ou mes parents sont professeurs. J'ai dix-huit ans. J' ecris.. (A.S., p.166) This was also the age of Marguerite Duras when she l e f t that foreign land of Indochina, her home, in order to study in France.  It i s as a  return to this land of suffering, of want, and, at the same time, of a fabulous freedom, that we experience the "India Song" texts, a l l powerfully imagined works coming from a common source:  the repressed child-  hood that resurges from the unconscious mind or "memoria" at mid-life, often precipitated by a c r i s i s .  It i s this experience which reveals to us  what we are underneath what we have become: M.D.  — Tu sais, ma mere s'est ruinee avec le barrage. Je l ' a i raconte. J'avais dixhuit ans quand je suis partie pour passer ma philo i c i , l a deuxieme partie, et faire l'universite, et je n'ai plus pense a. 1'enfance. C'avait ete trop douloureux. J'ai completement occulte. Et je me trimbalais dans l a vie en disant: Moi, je n'ai pas de pays natal; je reconnais rien i c i autour de moi, mais le pays ou j'ai vecu, c'est l'horreur(...) — Et je pense que c'est une revanche  - 50 de ca.  Le pays natal s'est venge. (Les Parleuses, p.136)  The resurgence of the foreign land and the repressed childhood parallels a breaking apart, a refusal, and finally a destruction of what had separated the writer from that childhood and the mother around whom i t was centered:  when a young g i r l attains womanhood she gives up her freedom  in order to enter the adult realm, in which her power has been, (until recently), reduced to the role of wife and mother — what she i s for others and not what she might be for herself. To be a woman writer i s to find an identity in language, an integration of self not possible in these separate roles. The moment of violence, of refusal, of c r i s i s , the moment when a "no" i s articulated, has marked the Durassian text. We see i t in Lol's refusal of her name, in the screams of the murdered woman in Moderato Cantabile and in the anguished cries of the vice-consul from Lahore. These cries and screams mingle with the chant of the beggar woman and reverberate throughout the self-portrait until their disappearance (resolution?) in the Aurelia Steiner texts.  Writing appears to begin from this point, and i t s  message corroborates that of Beaujour:  from a realization of loss which so  often brings a crisis, one begins to move toward self-portraiture. The paradigm Beaujour uses originates with Montaigne: with the death of his good friend, La Boetie, an absence was created in his l i f e , an absence which he f i l l e d with his Essais, his self-portrait.  The Essais in turn function  as a mirror, reflecting the writer, the culture, and finally, the reader who will find there his own portrait.  It i s a disquieting portrait revealed in  Marguerite Duras' writing, one qualified by a loss of identity, suffering,  -  51  -  absence, and culminating, paradoxically, In total freedom. It i s the portrait of woman in writing.  There i s common ground, however, for the  male self-portraits analyzed by Beaujour join: the Durassian self-portrait in that fascinating dimension of quest, where writing i s pulled into the limitless excursion of the text, the journey becoming an obscure search for an origin and a history.  In the words of Beaujour, here referring  specifically to Fugue by Roger Laporte: Acte de naissance d'un nouveau genre, Fugue souligne ce qui separe 1'autoportrait des constructions narcissiques (autobiographie, journal, memoires etc.) ou 1'on a voulu dechiffrer 1'aboutisse ment de l'humanisme, alors que celui-ci se definissait obscurement des l a premiere Renaissance, celle de Petrarque, du f a i t de son rapport au manque et son travail hermeneutique comme une quete d'Isis.54  Death as a Beginning Je commence a ecrire, en f a i t , du milieu du livre. Et l a quete elle-meme f a i t partie du livre. Je ne sais jamais ce qui va arriver — jamais. La quete elle-meme suscite d'autres quetes, ce qui devient partie integrante du livre. Le livre done s'ecrit de lui-meme — vous lisez vraiment un travail de recherche. 55 The instant recalled at the beginning of Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein in which Loi, realizing that she i s not going to be able to retain the departing couple, collapses, i s the seed which w i l l eventually grow, transforming a l l future time into the space of the ball.  Just as this  initiatory text i s essentially a remembering of the ball, L'Amour, a sort of reduction and synthesis of i t s prototype, i s centered around the  - 52 remembering of that second in which the retreating couple brought the ball to an end.  A telescoping occurs in which we move gradually deeper  and deeper within the structure of the writer's imagination where images and memories form one mysterious continuum, and where beginning and end are merely arbitrary terms: Une brume arrive, tres tenue, des embouchures. Elle danse devarit les yeux elle tombe, l a mer l a dechiquette, mais d'autres rangs de brume a r r i vent, dansant. II d i t : —  Voyez  —  i l sourit  Toujours l a plainte colereuse de l'enfant. On distingue deja moins le mouvement des eaux. L'engouffrement du sel perd de sa force. Le voyageur designe le perron. II demande: —  Dites-moi quelque chose de l'histoire.  II ne se retourne pas, ne voit rien que devant l u i , i l repond: — A mon avis, 1'ile est sortie en premier — i l montre l a mer — de l a . S. Thala est arrivee apres, avec l a poussiere — i l ajoute — vous savez? le temps... (L'A., p.49) The pain that Loi should have suffered but instead allowed to transf i x her, "le chainon saute", appears to be paralleled by an equally devastating fascination with the other woman, a fascination —  perhaps for the  mysterious and fabulous "force" of the silence emanating from a millennium of repression —  shared by both author and heroine:  Anne-Marie Stretter, elle a vecu mille ans. Souverainete de l a femme, qa vient de l a . Les hommes l'atteignent rarement. Parce qu'il y a deux fois le silence en elle, i l y a le silence de l a femme, et i l y a le silence qui vient de sa vie, a elle, de sa personne.  -  53 -  C'est ce double, c'est l a conjugaison de ces deux silences, peut-etre, Anne-Marie Stretter, sans doute meme; je me demande s i les autres femmes de mes livres ne l'ont pas masquee longtemps, s i derriere Loi V. Stein i l n'y avait pas Anne-Marie Stretter, parce qu'il n'y a pas de raison, cette fascination dure toujours, je ne m'en sors pas, c'est une veritable histoire d'amour (Les Lieux.. p.69). It is as an announcement of death that Anne-Marie Stretter arrives at the ball at T-Beach, the source from which the other texts flow.  Appearing  late at night, dressed in black, a l l the signs of death surround her: Loi, frappe*e d'immobilite, avait regarde s'avancer, comme l u i , cette grace abandonnee, ployante, d'oiseau mort (LvV.S., p.15). Her entry into the "story" gives i t i t s meaning, permeates the rest with the awe-inspiring beauty of the fatality she seems to represent. She embodies death seemingly with the same grace and f a c i l i t y that she has brought forth l i f e .  She i s mother as well as beautiful adultress, but with  the emphasis on the latter, for i t i s she who reduces the men around her to objects of her own desire, so multi-facetted and diffuse i s the passion surrounding her: Voix I L'autre homme qui dort? Voix 2 De passage. Un ami des Stretter. Elle est a qui veut d'elle. La donne, a. qui l a prend. Voix I (temps, doulure) Prostitution de Calcutta. Voix 2 Oui. Chretienne sans Dieu. Splendeur.  -  Voix I  54  -  (tres has)  Amour. Voix 2  (a peine)  Oui...  (I.3.,p.45-6) The tale of the fabulous Anne-Marie Stretter, which originates with an authentic childhood memory, becomes intertwined with the equally fabulous tale of the beggar woman. Both stories lead,us back from the text to the author's childhood of poverty and isolation, to the mother's struggle and suffering in a foreign land: Et cette extraordinaire, cette excessive injustice qui avait ete faite a ma mere est sans doute 1'experience l a plus traumatisante que j'aie connue. Avoir vu ma mere pleurer, devenir folle, l a voir meprisee par tout le monde, poursuivie par les creanciers, avoir a vendre jusqu'au dernier objet... En f a i t a l'heure de l a sieste, ma mere m'envoyait chez le bijoutier chinois du coin pour vendre quelques briocoles qui l u i restaient, Avec cet argent nous achetions un peu de viande pour notre repas du soir. Or — cela constitue une richesse. 56 The ground of Marguerite Duras' writing in general and of her "selfportrait" in particular, i s to be found in this wealth (of imagination, of possibilities), combined with this very real poverty; i t i s as though by her imaginative search through writing she has uncovered limitless riches within the word i t s e l f .  This process of impoverishment in the Durassian  text which brings us gradually to the essence of language, the word-image (closing the distance between signifier and signified) i s described in the following way by Helene Gixous in an interview with Michel Foucault: Ge que Marguerite Duras invente, c'est ce que j'appellerai: l'art de l a pauvrete.  -  55 -  Petit a petit i l y a un t e l travail d'abandon des richesses, des monuments, au fur et a mesure qu'on avance dans son oeuvre, et je , crois qu'elle en est consciente, c'est-adire qu'elle depouille de plus en plus, elle met de moins en moins de decor, d'ameublement, d'objets, et alors c'est tellement pauvre qu'a l a f i n quelque chose s'inscrit, reste, et puis ramasse, rassemble tout ce qui ne veut pas mourir. C'est comme s i tous nos desirs se reinvestissaient sur quelque chose de tout petit qui devient aussi grand que l'amour. (...) Et cet amour c'est ce rien qui est tout.57 The death evoked i n the "India Song" texts by the figures of AnneMarie Stretter and the beggar woman, i s not death as the unavoidable end to l i f e , for Anne-Marie Stretter takes her own l i f e while s t i l l in her prime, and the baby of the beggar woman dies before really ever beginning to live. Death i s rather that inexplicable contradiction that none the less infuses l i f e with i t s most precious meaning.  It i s for this reason that writing  begins here, and the screams of the murdered woman in Moderato Gantabile, the  cry of Loi at the end of the ball and the anguished screams of the  vice-consul of Lahore reverberate throughout the self-portrait, reminding us constantly of the source from which a l l flows and to which a l l will i n evitably return. the  According to Heidegger's thought, which touches closely  meaning intuited from these texts, death i s "the shrine of nothing-  ness" which surrounds and holds everything in unity: Death as "the possibility of the impossibility of existence" or as "shrine of nothingness" i s not nothing-at-all, a pure, complete n i h i l absolutum, but precisely that which constitutes the background and reality of existence.5° The "images" which predominate here can no longer be restricted to the  merely perceptual, but are those manifestations of imagination which  -  56 -  follow the curves of one's desires: "not what I see hut the way in which 59 I see".  In the domain of imagination, therefore, sensations dominate  over perceptions.  What we experience when we read a Durassian text i s the  intensity of the desire infusing the language:  passion, violence, disorder,  overwhelming erotic desire, and the unknown. How does woman, "le continent noir" of Freud, experience erotic desire? A woman writes, a text such as India Song would seem to say, from a place of pure passion, in particular, the passion of erotic desire. As we listen to the "voices" retelling the love story behind the faded images on the screen, while at the same time inventing their own, a l l with the same absolute, devastating passion, the presence of the other face of l i f e , which i s precisely death, i s f e l t : Voix  2  JE VOUS AIME JUSQU'A NE PLUS VOIR NE PLUS ENTENDRE MOURTB... Voix  (I.S., p.21) 2  (tres lent)  QUELLE NUIT QUELLE CHALEUR ENTIERE MORTELLE Silence Voix nette, implacable, terrifiante: Voix 2 JE VOUS AIME D'UN DESIR ABSOLU. Pas de reponse. Silence.  , pp.38-9)  The "story" which i s told and retold contains always as i t s common denominator this same "passion", of impossible love, of absolutes and opposites joined, whether i t i s the S. Thala of Loi V. Stein, the Calcutta  -  57 -  of Anne-Marie Stretter, or the "Lahore" ("La hors" as Maxcelle Marini translates it)^° of the vice-consul, Jean-Marc de H.:  always this same,  continuously transforming, erotic fantasy of pure desire. As Dominique Noguez expressively describes i t : C'est toujours, a telle ou telle etape de son deroulement, l a meme histoire, a l a fois connue et surprenante, simple et perverse — archi-histoire, en verite, tant elle paraft transcender les acteurs qui l'incarnent tirovisoirement. Certes, la parole durassientie n'est pas desincarnee (si elle tend constamment, nous le verrons, comme par une secrete incandescence, a 1'abstraction l a plus pure): elle passe — avec quelle vibration pathetique! par des noms, des couleurs, des odeurs (toute l a moiture de L'Inde aussi, et cette chaleur terrible qui pese sur India Song)... Mais ces visages, ces lieux, ces couleurs sont des peripeties — les modes d'une substance. Cette substance est l a passion.°1 Michel Beaujour also describes self-portraiture in terms of "passion", but specifically the "Passion" of Christ;  his analysis i s as mentioned  earlier, restricted to male works. He sees in self-portraiture the presence of an "intratextual memory" which goes beyond the individual, revealing his cultural roots: ...du moins est-ce un type de memoire a l a fois tres archaique et tres moderne par quoi des evenements d'une vie individuelle sont eclipses par l a rememoration de toute une culture, apportant ainsi un paradoxal oubli de soi.62 Our cultural roots are haunted, according to his analysis, by two culminating points: the Passion of Christ and Plato's Phaedo. But rather than these culminating points which brand patriarchy, the writing of women reveals a pre-historic time when mythos was not dominated by logos:  -  58  -  Depuis que les femmes ecrivent sans entrave, quelque chose a change: l a conception de l'ecrit et de l a l i t t e r a ture n'est plus l a meme. Le chant strident des Bacchantes retentit sur lyre d'0rphee.°3 It i s the model of male sexuality which permeates male writing  —  one need only think of the build-up of suspense, climax, and denouement which pattern the rythm of the traditional novel:  "1'excitation,  l'assouvissement et ga f i n i t et ga recommence", as Xaviere Gauthier describes i t in Les Parleuses (p.4o);  by contrast, the writing of Marguerite  Duras, especially in the "India Song" texts, i s involved with a passion that continues at the same intensity, never satisfied, never climaxing, never ending.  The world of the earlier texts, the waiting without hope of  tomorrows, i s intensified into a world of passion and of ceaseless wandering. It i s a world without history, since i t i s a feminine world — and undefinable —  undefined  at least in masculine terms, in masculine language. It  is a world revealing a sustained struggle, with neither victors nor losers, opening up, according to Marcelle Marini, vast new possibilities: Marguerite Duras f a i t du language et de 1'ecriture l'objet et le territoire p r i v i legies ou laisser-(faire) s'affronter Eros et Thanatos: elle y detruit — s'y detruit, y construit — s'y construit, y produit des figurations qui nous font rehover, dans le plaisir, avec des verites de cette langue perdue qui est l a notre. ^ 0  The self-portrait of woman exposed in the "India Song" texts makes manifest the voices of witches, of the mad, chants from foreign cultures, the screams of the Jews from the furnaces, the voices of the oppressed  —  and when one goes deeper s t i l l to where the Durassian text inevitably leads, silence i s attained: the non-history which i s the veritable history of  -  59 -  woman: Silence Immobilite Sanglots lointains du Vice-Gonsul. Silence de nouveau. Dans le jardin l a lumiere s'obscurcit encore une fois, se plombe. Aucun vent dans le jardin desert. Voix  2 (peur, tres bas)  Le bruit de votre coeur me f a i t peur... Silence Encore un mouvement dans l a masse immobile des trois corps endormis: c'est l a main de Michael Richardson qui va vers le corps de l a femme, le caresse, et reste la, posee. Michael Richardson ne dormait pas. La lumiere s'obscurcit encore. Desir, epouvante de l a "voix" 2 Voix 2 Votre coeur, s i jeune, d'enfant... Pas de reponse. Silence. Voix  2  Ou etes-vous? Pas de reponse. Silence. (I.S., p.49)  The Fabulous Wandering of the Durassian Woman. The f i r s t stage of the self-portrait, to simplify the analysis of Beaujour, i s "une deambulation imaginaire au long d'un systeme de lieux, depositaire d'image-souvenirs."^  Rhetoric used this system of homology  between actual physical moving through space — be i t a city, a house, or a cathedral — and memory, in order to develop the "art of memory", much  - 60 needed before books were printed. The essential quality of the system (and here the modern genre of the literary self-portrait i s like a return to former times) i s the importance of space: duree."^  "Ce primat de I'espace sur l a  Self-portraiture and autobiography part ways here: L'urgence du desir de temporalite, d ' i n t e l l i g i b i l i t e diachronique et d'evolution est peutetre, en derniere analyse, 1'obstacle majeur a. 1'etude de 1'autoportrait tandis que l'autobiopraphie, dont le f i l narratif rassure, offre une mimesis vraisemblable de l a vie envisagee comme progres transcendant les contingences spatiales."?  With the arrival of Loi V. Stein, the Durassian self-portrait begins, since with Loi a movement i s initiated:  a repetitive movement  which i s the wandering of Loi through S. Thala, her hometown, her childhood, and the place connecting her with the event that ended childhood definitively:  the fateful ball.  Her journey i s both a return to the past and a  journey into an unknown future, for her fantasy disconnects her step by step from outside reality: Le bal tremblait au loin, ancien, seule epave d'un ocean maintenant tranquille, dans l a pluie, a S. Thala. Tatiana, plus tard, quand je le l u i ai dit, a partage mon avis. — Ainsi, c'etait pour ga qu'elle se promenait, pour mieux penser au bal (L.V.S,, p.45). A transformation has occurred, since a person's l i f e i s now being considered in terms of "spatial contingencies", rather than as a "progress transcending them", terms in which Beaujour has described autobiography. The Durassian characters, by their repetitive movement through familiar places, gradually become the embodiment of that space —  or the space  becomes a projection of their emotions, or lack of emotions. Thus the  -  61 -  identity of Loi joins that of. the S. Thala of L'Amour which i s in turn an amplification of her absence of inner space — the nothingness l e f t after her total projection into the memory of the ball (her descent to the underworld, for a l l the characters in L'Amour are either dead or in a state of limbo, a modern purgatory);  only her obsessive fantasy to re-  enact, to re-invent the same scenario, remains: Elle a un geste ouvert d'une tendresse desesperee, elle dit, elle murmure: — S. Thala, mon S. Thala. (L'A., p.139) The paradox of the Durassian text i s that the characters lose their inner space in order to become the shadowy figures that are emanations from the unconscious of the writer;  the psychic scenario i s , in other words,  the mystery of imagination from the unique perspective of the woman writer, Marguerite Duras. The paradox of the self-portrait i s that we are seeing here a mirror image of our own unconscious where eros and thanatos do battle. Anne-Marie Stretter i s another solitary wanderer, whose walks by the deserted tennis courts (against which leans her bicycle, abandoned in the s t i l l heavy heat of the summer monsoons) haunt India Song. S t i l l desired yet beyond further desiring, her indifference blends mysteriously with the space which others experience as her embodiment: Je pense qu'Anne-Marie Stretter a depasse tous les prejuges a propos de 1'intelligence ou de l a connaissance, de l a theorie. C'est un desespoir, i l s'agit la. d'un desespoir universel, qui rejoint au plus pres d'un desespoir politique profond, et qui est vecu comme t e l , avec calme. J'ai dit qu' elle etait Calcutta, je l a vois comme Calcutta. Elle devient Calcutta, i l y a un double glissement, Calcutta vers l a forme d'Anne-Marie Stretter et elle va vers  - 62 la forme de Calcutta. Et pour moi a l a f i n du film elles ne font qu'un (les Lieux,,p.73). The wandering of the beggar woman pulls the quest onto a universal level, where the t r a i l of deterioration and disorientation clearly signals the search i n language, through language, for a deeper origin, one stripped, freed of a l l cultural fetters.  She chants, she babbles in a language  foreign to the ears around her, she loses direction, she gradually sinks into her own movement, her own chant.  Her "story" (does i t mean anything 68  to her?) i s invented by Peter Morgan,  a young diplomat and writer in the  entourage of the beautiful Anne-Marie Stretter at the French embassy in Calcutta, and begins the novel Le Vice-Consul:  "Elle marche" he writes,  and with the second sentence i s uncovered the contradictory dictate ruling her existence: Comment ne pas revenir? II faut se perdre  (Le Vice-Consul, p . l ) .  How can she not return to that cruel mother who has chased her away, for i t i s for her she longs?  How does woman separate herself from that body  which i s so like her own body, how can she leave the mother? How can she do otherwise than follow in the steps of her, the one who i s her model and her exact form? But she has been chased away, therefore: "II faut se perdre." - Under the double and contradictory command, " l a mendiante" loses herself step by step in the madness arising from the impossibility of meeting her body's demands for food, for contact, for comfort: Dans l a lumiere bouillante et pale, l'enfant encore dans le ventre, elle s'elbigne, sans crainte. Sa route, elle est sure, est celle de 1'abandon definitif de sa mere. Ses yeux pleurent, mais elle chante a tue-tete un chant  -  63 -  enfantin de Battambang (Le Vice-Gonsul, p.28). Peter Morgan invents a fantastic journey for this waif of humanity which lasts ten years, beginning at "Savannakhet" and ending at Calcutta. Her story, when Peter Morgan talks about his book with the others near the end of Le Vice-Consul, clearly becomes a "mise en abime" for the language which i s gradually emerging within the larger context of the novel: Elle marcherait, d i t - i l , j'insisterai surtout sur cela. Elle, ce serait une marche tres longue, fragmentee en des centaines d'autres marches toutes animees du meme balancement — celui de son pas — elle marcherait, et l a phrase avec elle,... (Le Vice-Gonsul, p.179) From her imaginary origin she traces and weaves in the parallels and hidden mirror images of metonymy, the fate of woman i n masculine language. The circle she describes reflects, through an autobiographical link with the author's l i f e , the deeper quest for the female voice which these texts together reveal.  This quest involves primarily repetition, the fate of  Echo. The following explanation i s offered by Nancy Miller in an article on women's writing: To play with mimesis i s . . . for a woman to try to recover the place of her exploitation by language, without allowing herself to be simply reduced to i t . It i s to re-submit herself... to ideas — notably about her — elaborated in and through a masculine logic, but to "bring out" by an effect of playful repetition what was to remain hidden: the recovery of a possible operation of the feminine in language. It i s also to unveil the fact that i f women mime so well they are not simply reabsorbed in this function. They also remain elsewhere. 69 It i s precisely this "elsewhere" that i s intriguing in the Durassian text:  the silence, the absence, "le rien".  At times i t appears as the  -  64 -  unsettling image of the vacant tennis court — a steel-wire barrier enclosing nothing.  This absence haunts us, from Detruire, dit-elle, where  the occasional tennis ball i s heard but the game never seen, to Le ViceConsul and India Song where the court remains empty, i t s vacant presence joining other images of abandonment and emptiness such as the park and the deserted bicycle of Anne-Marie Stretter: Contre le grillage qui entourne les tennis deserts i l y a une bicyclette de femme qui appartient a Anne-Marie Stretter,  (I-S., p.36) La bicyclette contre le grillage est recouverte de l a fine poussiere grise de 1'allie. Elle est abandonnee, sans emploi, effrayante (L-S., p.49). This "elsewhere" i s associated with certain characters more specifically than with others.  For instance, the vice-consul, a virgin  at thirty-five, considered mad by the others for the irrational act of shooting at the lepers in the garden at Lahore, marked by an emotionally unstable childhood flawed by the death of his father, reflects a more "feminine" than "masculine" personality: — C e l a signifie quelque chose, dit l e vice-consul, les tennis etaient en effet deserts. — C e l a f a i t - i l une s i grande difference? Le directeur r i t . —Une grande difference en effet, reprend le vice-consul. —Laquelle? — C e l l e d'un sentiment peut-etre? Pourquoi pas? (Le V.C.., p.79)  -  65 -  The footsteps of this virgin from Lahore ("La. hors") trace those of Anne-Marie Stretter on her solitary walks;  these steps are in turn  joined by those of the beggar woman, for we learn at the end of Le ViceGonsul that Peter Morgan intends to include Anne-Marie Stretter in his book. The echoes grow, converge, merge, as the texts become more reduced, more abstract (in the sense of refining the "substance"' rather than converting the substance into theory).  The wandering continues in L'Amour  and La Femme du Gange, like ripples caused by a skipping stone on a s t i l l lake.  It i s a wandering which intertwines pasts:  Loi V. Stein, her friend  Tatiana Karl, Anne-Marie Stretter, the beggar woman... a l l converge and blend in the woman of L'Amour, though her dominant identity i s that of the young g i r l of eighteen "ravished" by the spectacle of her fiance's desiring eyes upon the other woman — destroyed in an instant, swept into a land of the dead — "hypertrophiee, c'est §a, le trauma i n i t i a l de toute femme" (Les Parleuses, p.159). The self-portrait leads us towards a time before the trauma of womanhood, with i t s loss of freedom, into the forest of childhood and the traumas buried below adult rationalizations, to the sea, to which the wandering inevitably leads: Les differents lieux de Loi V. Stein sont tous des lieux maritimes, c'est toujours au bord de l a mer qu'elle est, et tres longtemps j'ai vu des v i l l e s tres blanches, comme 5a, blanchies par le sel, un peu comme s i du sel etait dessus, sur les routes et les lieux ou se deplace Lola Valerie Stein. Et^c'est apres coup que j ' a i compris que c'efaient des lieux, non seulement marins mais relevant d'une mer de mon enfance aussi, des mers... illimitees (Les Lieux.,p.84).  -  66  -  To reach a place where an authentic voice i s heard — where "I" speak from my own needs and not from those imposed by social dictates (what I imagine the other to expect me to need) i s a meeting of the mature adult with the child held within, in memories. To "re-member" i s to create an integrated present with fragments from the past when for women, according to Beatrice Didier, a freedom suiting their creativity existed: Leur enfance, pourquoi y reviennent-elles toujours? ,,. Epoque heureuse ou elles se figurent un desir diffus, sans l o i et sans entrave... Elles evoluent dans le Paradis terrestre, en bonne entente avec l'Ange qui paradoxalement semble plus liberal pour l a netite Eve que pour le jeune Adam. Peutetre parce que le desir d'Eve est partout, incontrolable, insaisissable, moins presse que celui d'Adam de se concretiser dans un acte qui, en l'accomplissant, le limiterait.70 Aurelia Steiner, the fabulous world wanderer, embodies the movement and constant change that characterizes the female voice: always on the edge of adulthood, saved from i t s roles and fragmentation through the act of writing, she i s a new species of Durassian heroine: Le marin a chevaux noirs etait allonge sur le sol de ma chambre. II me regardait. Je me suis rendormie. J'ai entendu qu'il disait que ses yeux le brulaient d'avoir regarde l a beaute d'Aurelia Steiner. Que son bateau partait a midi mais qu'il ne serait pas a bord, que le bateau partirait sans l u i , qu'il desirait rester avec elle, Aurelia Steiner, quoi qu'il advienne de l u i . J'ai d i t que je n'appartenais a personne de defini. Que je n'etais pas libre de moi-meme. (A.S.., p. 165) How can she belong to him, when she belongs f i r s t to herself, which i s the universe of the blank page?  - 67 NOTES  1.  Duras, Marguerite, . -, Gallimard, 1973). (Paris:  (Part I)  Le Vice-Gonsul (Paris: L'Amour (Paris:  Gallimard, 1966).  Gallimard, 1971).  India Song (film, texte, theatre) (Paris:  , Natalie Granger suivi de La Femme du Gange Gallimard, 1973). ,  La Femme du Gange (film, jamais distribue  1973).  , Le Navire Night, Les Mains negatives, Cesaree. Aurelia Steiner. Aurelia Steiner, Aurelia Steiner (Paris: Mercure de France, 1979). , Aurelia Steiner, d i t Aurelia Melbourne (19791film, Films Paris - Audiovisuel). , Aurelia Steiner, d i t Aurelia Vancouver (1979» film, Films du Losange). 2.  Suzanne Lamy et Andre Roy, Marguerite Duras a Montreal (Montreal: Conference de Presse, 1981), p763.  3.  Edith Hamilton, La Mythologie (Verviers:  4.  Jacques Derrida, "La Pharmacie de Platon," La Dissemination (Paris: Edition du Seuil, 1972), p.63.  5.  Miroirs d'encre, p.12.  6.  Marguerite Duras, "Les Yeux verts," Cahier du Cinema, numero 312-313? Paris, juin 1980, p.48.  7.  Marguerite Duras, Son Norn de Venlse dans Calcutta desert, film (Distributed by Cinema 9, 1976).  8.  Miroirs d'encre, p.207.  9.  Marguerite Duras had two brothers, but the elder had been sent to school in France: " Marguerite Duras et Michelle Porte, Les Lieux de Marguerite Duras (Paris: Edition de Minuit, 1977), pp.59-60.  Marabout, 1978), pp.97-8.  10. Bettina L...Enapp, "Interviews avec Marguerite Duras et Gabriel Cousin," French Review, Mar. 1971. pp.654-5.  -  68  -  11.  Marguerite Duras and Xaviere Gauthier, Les Parleuese (Paris: de Minuit, 197*0, p.139.  12.  Marguerite Duras, Detruire, dit-elle (Paris:  Editions  Editions de Minuit,  1969).  13.  Michele Montrelay., L'Ombre et le nom: Editions de Minuit, 1977), p.71.  sur l a feminite (Paris:  14.  Marguerite Duras a Montreal, p.73.  15.  "Les Yeux verts," p.48.  16.  Marguerite Duras, Les Petits Ghevaux de Tarquinia (Paris: Gallimard, 1953).  17.  Marguerite Duras, "Les Plages," "Les Yeux verts",p.87.  18.  Marguerite Duras, Suzanne Andler, Theatre II (Paris:  19.  Nathalie Granger, (Films Moliere, 1972), Nathalie Granger, suivi de La Eemme du Gange (Paris: Gallimard, 1973)7  20.  Marguerite Duras et Michelle Porte, Les Lieux de Marguerite Duras. (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1977).  21.  Nathalie Granger, p.53.  22.  Marguerite Duras refers to this work in Les Lieux de Marguerite Duras, pp. 96-7.  23.  Beatrice Didier, L'Ecriture-femme France, 1 9 8 l ) .  24.  Miroirs d'encre, p.21.  25.  L'Ecriture-femme, p.233.  26.  Murray Stein, "Hera:  27.  Ibid.. pp.110-11.  28.  Marguerite Duras, "Mothers," Marguerite Duras, comp. Francois Barat et Joel Farges (Paris: Editions Albatros, 1979), pp.99-101.  29.  Marguerite Duras, Des Journees entieres dans les arbres (Paris: Gallimard, 1954). Thirty, years later, this theme i s taken up once again in L'Amant (Paris: Gallimard, 1984).  (Paris:  Gallimard, 1968).  Presses Universitaires de  bound and unbound," Spring. 1976, pp.105-117.  - 69 30.  "Mothers," p.101.  31.  Madeleine Borgomano, "L'histoire de l a mendiante indiennes une cellule generatrice de 1'oeuvre de Marguerite Duras," Poetique XII, 1981, p.491.  32.  Ibid., p.491.  33.  Marcelle Marini, Territoires du feminin (Paris: 1977), p.101.  34.  L'Ecriture-femme, p.26.  Editions de Minuit,  35. "Les Yeux verts",p.19. 36.  Marguerite Duras a Montreal, p.33.  37.  Miroirs d'encre, p.70.  38.  Ibid., p.70.  39.  Philippe Lejeune, "Le Pacte autobiographique (bis)," Poetique, Nov. 1983, p.417.  40.  Ibid., p.420.  41.  Roland Barthes, "TEXTE (Theorie du)," Encyclopedie Universalis, 1980, pp.1013-17.  42.  Miroirs d'encre, p.19.  43.  Gerard Genette, Figures II (Paris:  44.  Ibid.. p.17.  45.  Dominique Noguez, "Les India Songs de Marguerite Duras," Gahiers du XX siecle, 1981, pp.37-8.  46.  L'Ombre et le nom:  47.  Miroirs d'encre, p.125.  48.  Marguerite Duras a Montreal, p.64.  49.  L'Ecriture-femme, p.283.  50.  Jacques Lacan, "Hommage f a i t a Marguerite Duras du Ravissement de Loi V. Stein," in Marguerite Duras, p.131.  51.  L'Ombre et le nom:  Editions du Seuil, 1972), p.45.  sur l a feminite, p.155.  sur l a feminite, p.l44.  -  70 -  52.  Miroirs d'encre, p.228,  53.  "La Pharmacie de Platon" in La Dissemination (Paris: Seuil, 1972), p.91.  54.  Miroirs d'encre, p.228.  55.  BettinaL. Knapp, "Interviews avec Marguerite Duras et Gabriel Cousin," p.655.  56.  Ibid., p.654.  57.  Helene Gixous, Michel Foucault, "A Propos de Marguerite Duras," Cahler Renaud-Barrault, vol. 88-93, 1975-6, pp.9-10.  58.  Roberts Avens, Imaglnal Body (Washington: America Inc., 1982), p.l47.  59.  Ibid.. p.96.  60.  Territoires du feminin, p.106.  61.  "Les India Songs de Marguerite DuraS",p.33.  62.  Miroirs d'encre, p.26.  63.  L'Ecriture-femme, p.39.  64.  Territoires du feminin, p.256.  65.  Miroirs d'encre, p.87.  66.  Ibid., p.111.  67.  Ibid., pp.110-11.  68.  The male narrator i s a central theme for discussion in Part II.  69.  Nancy Miller, "Emphasis Added: plots and plausibilities in women's fiction," PMLA, Jan. I 9 8 I , p.74.  70.  L'Ecriture-femme, p.24.  Editions du  University Press of  Part II From "le regard" to "l'ecoute":  Voyage out of the Desert.  - 72 Preliminary We move about the world guided primarily by our senses of sight and sound, with the former, the more aggressive of the two, dominating. The predominance of the visual perspective leads to the priority of one view over another, that i s , to a hierarchical structure within which only that i s seen which i s willed or wished to be seen. oppressors.  It i s a world which breeds  For instance, according to the writing of Marguerite Duras,  the oppressors of women are no different from the oppressors of Jews, children, the insane, or any minority. Oppression has much to do with the one-dimensional way of viewing the world resulting from this overwhelming dominance of the visual over the other senses.  The tyranny of masculine  principles over the feminine i s an analogous way of considering this imbalance leading to the either/or dichotomizing that has polarized the thinking of modern man. Gilbert Durand expresses i t succinctly: L'Occident voit tout du meme oeil, comme les fameux Cyclopes. Et au malaise de l a conscience dechiree suecede l a maladie de l'unidimensionnel. C'est cette derniere qui a conduit l a science sans conscience de L'Occident a l a foudre d'Hiroshima comme a l a lueur des crematoires.1 The man i n the film Le Camion (1977) i s typical of the oppressors populating this world in his inability to "see" the "femme d'un certain age" who hitches a ride in his truck: Je sais en tout cas que les Juifs et les femmes ont un ennemi commun, c'est cet homme du camion, ce decreteur; i l decrete, i l parle comme un homme de pouvoir et au nom du marxisme.2 He i s totally incapable of hearing her statement: a sa perte, c'est l a seule politique."-^  "Que le monde a i l l e  The author's comment on this  -  73 -  statement in the interview with Michele Porte following the text i s enlightening: Mais elle le v i t gaiement, puisque, elle le v i t en inventant des solutions personnelles a 1'intolerable du monde, par exemple le f a i t de faire du stop tous les soirs en inventant sa vie.^ Ironically, i t i s Marguerite Duras who plays this role while sitting in her front room at a round table facing Gerard Despardieu i n the role of truck driver.  On the screen a blue truck i s seen rolling across the i n -  dustrial outskirts of Paris;  the inside of the truck where the conver-  sation i s supposed to be taking place i s never seen.  The "movement" of this  woman, away from a l l the oppressions of the world, i s what the author names love.  The quest for an alternative way of seeing and experiencing inherent  to her writing — the simultaneous refusal of, and movement away from, a l l the "isms" — i s a similar movement of love, political in i t s essence: La perte du monde qui est vecue par tout le monde tout le monde au monde, maintenant, c'est a mon avis l a seule democratie possible. II faut s'aligner sur cette notion-la. C'est l a vraie Internationale. Toutes les autres propositions, en particulier celles du communisme, sont des propositions pourries.5 In the group of texts presented here as self-portraiture, there i s a gradual moving away from the male-dominated world of "le regard" toward a much softer, less easily defined world of "l'ecoute".  The movement i n -  volves a subtle process of bringing our awareness to the undersurface of things, as though visual reality in i t s domination had neglected what exists below the surface, i n the spaces between the contours of form, as in the photographic negative. Intuition escapes, in a similar way, the  -  74 -  theoretical dimension of rational thought and abstract constructions. The subtle dialectic of these texts, rooted in physical "reality" and forming, dissolving and reforming continuously, i n an alternation carrying us from the l i t e r a l surface of things to an obscure interior, reveals the search for a new rhetoric referred to by the author in an interview in Signs.^ From Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein to L'Amour, La Femme du Gange, and India Song, we witness the gradual transformation of time, i n the sense of linear narrative development, into space.  The physical dominance of the  space of the ball, which becomes synonymous in the latter three works with "la f i n du monde" (Les Lieux. p.77)» symbolizes an end to a certain order of things.  I have been treating this order summarily as the male-dominated,  visually defined, hierarchized world as we have known i t .  I t might also  be described i n terms borrowed from Norman 0. Brown's study of Freud, Life Against Death, i n which western civilization, beginning with Plato, i s seen as the upward oriented movement of sublimation toward greater and  7 greater abstraction, "a flight from death". text i s a reversal of this movement.  What we see i n the Durassian  It i s a downward movement toward the  unconscious, the underworld of myth, and the inner more material senses of sound, touch, and smell:  the sirens on the beach of S. Thala in L'Amour,  the odour of smoke mixed with the salt sea air, the somnambulic wanderings of i t s occupants, " l a femme de S. Thala", her hands black from the soot of ashes, the rotting dog in the middle of the beach — a l l are signs of a concrete world of flesh, and of death.  "S. Thala" i s thalassa (Gr. sea,  "mer/mere") and thanatos (Gr. death). It represents both origin and end, concerns which have been either suppressed or sublimated.  -  75 -  The Durassian text i s a journey back and downward into the repressed, into the hody and into the libido where passion and desire arise: arena of eros and thanatos.  the  A distance i s closed, a distance maintained by  the dominance of the audiovisual over the other "lower" inner senses: Abstraction, as a mode of keeping l i f e at a distance, i s supported by that negation of the "lower" infantile sexual organizations which effects a general displacement from the below upwards of organ eroticism to the head, especially to the eyes. The once active, aggressive "regard" becomes strangely passive in the Durassian world, while the once passive "ecoute" plays an increasilgly active role:  the women seem to know where they are going, while the men  appear to be lost.  Durassian women, up until the new voice born with  Aurelia Steiner, appear as knowing sacrifices to the system — Anne-Marie Stretter dying by suicide and Loi V. Stein and " l a mendiante" wandering in fantasy and starvation leading to madness. Their movement, as pointed out earlier, parallels that of language i t s e l f , whose discourse on i t s own process i s continuously present at the meta-textual level.  The process i n -  volves a stripping away of the ratiocinations of traditional narrative and the complete disorientation of syntax until the prose arrives in poetic form, rational language having been thoroughly subverted by the magical power of poetry and i t s close connection to myth.  "As for poetry", writes  Brown, "are not those basic poetic devices emphasized by recent criticism — paradox, ambiguity, irony, tension —  devices whereby the poetic imagination  9  subverts the 'reasonableness' of language, the chains i t imposes?'"  As in Part I, myth w i l l be used as a background Gestalt against which the recurrent patterns within the texts can be seen more clearly.  - 76 This time the choice i s an ancient Summarian myth; the reasons for this choice w i l l be given following a summary of the myth i t s e l f .  It i s the  myth of the descent of Inanna, queen of heaven and earth. In the myth Inanna, (precursor of the later Greek love goddess, Aphrodite), descends to the underworld to witness the funeral of Gugalanna, the husband of Ereshkigal, queen of the "great below". She i s stripped bare at each of the seven gates on her journey, and finally arriving in the , underworld, i s killed by the furious Ereshkigal and hung to rot on a peg. After Inanna f a i l s to return i n three days, her faithful servant Ninshubur, whom she had instructed before her descent to act on her behalf, sets in motion orders to 'rouse the people and gods with dirge drum and lamenting'. The f i r s t gods she appeals to refuse to meddle in the affairs of the under- . world.  However, Enki, god of waters and wisdom, hears her appeals and  fashions, from the dirt under his fingernails, two mourners whom he sends into the underworld equipped with food and the water of l i f e .  Through  their commiseration with the suffering of Ereshkigal, they gain the release of the corpse of their queen, Inanna. release i s that she send a replacement.  One of the conditions for her She does not choose any of those  who have faithfully mourned for her, but selects instead her favourite consort, Dumuzi, who seems to have been enjoying himself, oblivious to her plight.  At f i r s t he i s turned into a snake by those eager to help him  sneak away, but then, faced by the inevitable, he visits his sister, Geshtinanna who has had a dream portending both of their deaths.  She decides  to sacrifice herself for him and go in his stead to the underworld.  Inanna,  hearing of Geshtinanna's generous offer, decrees that they are to share the penalty, each descending for half of the year.  -  77  -  There i s a reason for choosing the Inannamyth, rather than another Greek myth, as a basis for the analysis of the texts involving Loi V. Stein, Anne-Marie Stretter, the "mendiante", and finally Aurelia Steiner: i t deals directly with female transformation, and dates from a time before the feminine had lost i t s power and undergone suppression into the unconscious by the patriarchate.  The myth of Narcissus and Echo has more  to say about feminine self-portraiture as i t reflects the plight of the feminine in masculine language.  However, i t has l i t t l e relevance to the  female transformation which i s at the core of the relationship between Loi V. Stein and Aurelia Steiner and i s reflected in the evolution of common themes within the "India Song" texts;  this transformation relates to the  writer's own descent into childhood and the re-membering of the mother/ daughter body which underlies a l l feminine writing, according to the study of Beatrice Didier. At the textual level, the transformation involves the destruction of, and movement away from, the prison of "le regard". New spaces, comprising the limitlessness of sound in space which i s the receptive, kinesthetic space of "1*ecoute", open before us.  Step by step we experience the  emergence of a world where visual reality i s guided and tempered by the other less dominant senses, and in which the voice of Aurelia Steiner emerges from the ashes of Loi V. Stein: Aurelia. Enfant. Mon enfant. Le Bal de S. Thala est de nouveau beant. C'est Aurelia qui le regarde. Aurelia est sortie du corps massacre de Loi V. Stein. Aurelia m'a remplacee. Remplacee. C'est f a i t . Les sables de S. Thala, ceux de l a deambulation des fous, l a mer aussi, tout est desert. Le grand baleon du casino de S. Thala,  -  78 -  face au couchant, est vide. On entend le bruissementtres doux de l a mer d'hiver. Parfois passe' Aurelia. Elle regarde les sables et l a mer. Oui, ses yeux sont bleus. Et avec le soir, ils. deviennent obscurite limpide et sans fond. Ses cheveux sont noirs. Elle chante, c'est elle qui maintenant chante les airs du bal de S. Thala, elle le chante comme chants juifs. Oui, elle passe sur l a plage les jours d'orage, elle ecoute le vent, l'egarement fantastique de l a mer, tout entiere tournee vers le gouffre vide de l a terre. Instruite de l a douleur, Aurelia, et de l a joie. Regarde.11  Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein: Disorientation of the Visual Universe. Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein, essentially a remembering of the famous end of summer ball at S. Thala, i s a world composed of vaccilating visual perspectives from which an elusive narrator has difficulty putting together a coherent picture. The similarities between this world and the disquieting world of Natalie Sarrautes' Le Planetarium, are evident:  both  worlds heighten the reader's receptivity to the rich world of sensation and perception which forms the murky substratum of our organized world of accepted formula and theoretical frameworks. Below the surface roles exists the vast, pulsating universe of the organism, where existence i s a raw fabric woven of emotion, sensation, perception, and mystery, deeper and as yet undisclosed.  "I think", states Marguerite Duras in an interview in  Signs (1975)",the future belongs to women. Men have been completely dethroned.  Their rhetoric i s stale, used up.  We must move on to the rhetoric 12  of women, one that i s anchored in the organism, in the body." To return to the text, the narrator attempts to reconstruct the  -  79  -  story of Lol's abandonment that famous night, according to what he has heard from others, in particular, from her best friend then, Tatiana Karl. What he manages to construct, however, is a collage of contradictory fragments accentuated by the "rien" which i s Lol's hallmark: Loi etait drole,moqueuse impenitente et tres fine bien qu'une part d'elle-meme eut ete toujours en allee loin de vous et de 1'instant. Ou? Dans le reve adolescent? Non, repond Tatiana, non, on aurait dit dans rien encore, justement, rien (L.V.S., p.13). We are drawn into the story as one i s drawn into a mystery novel, by looking for identifying clues that might reveal the identity of the narrator.  At the end of the f i r s t section, a missing "e" at the end of the  past participle gives us our f i r s t clue:  i t must be a "he":  Je ne crois plus a rien de ce que dit Tatiana, je ne suis convaincu de rien. (L.V.S., p.14) He then tells us what his itinerary as narrator will be, establishing us firmly in the consciousness of fiction as invention, destroying in one sentence any lingering attachment to the romantic fallacy: Voici, tout au long, meles, a l a fois, ce faux semblant que raconte Tatiana Karl et ce que j'invente sur l a nuit du casino de T. Beach. A partir de quoi je raconterai mon histoire de Loi V. Stein (L.V.S., p.l4). Why male narrators?  Le Vice-Consul i s narrated also from the  point of view of a male, Peter Morgan, the young novelist. Woman has been defined within the context of male dominated culture, where her roles have been restricted, until recent times, to that of wife and mother (or spinster-virgin):  to be "seen" and owned (or exempted) by the "superior"  power of the male; The veiled women in Middle Eastern cultures — to be  -  80  -  seen o n l y by t h e male who "owns" them — i s a modern example o f t h e power of the look i n p a t r i a r c h a l c u l t u r e : l a puissance.  "Le r e g a r d e s t done a u p r i n c i p e de  V o i r , c ' e s t d e j a c o n q u e r i r , a f f i r m e r une p o s s e s s i o n magique de  13 l'objet." "look"?  J  How many l o v e a f f a i r s date f r o m t h e moment o f t h e f i r s t  The l o v e s t o r y between M i c h a e l R i c h a r d s o n  and Anne-Marie S t r e t t e r ,  the f a t e f u l n i g h t o f t h e b a l l which i n i t i a t e s L o l ' s d e s c e n t i n t o madness, b e g i n s t h i s way, a s v i s i b l y " l o v e a t f i r s t s i g h t " : I I e t a i t devenu d i f f e r e n t . T o u t l e monde pouvait l e v o i r . V o i r q u ' i l n ' e t a i t plus c e l u i qu'on c r o y a i t . L o i l e r e g a r d a i t , l e r e g a r d a i t changer. Les yeux de M i c h a e l R i c h a r d s o n s ' e t a i e n t e c l a i r c i s . Son v i s a g e s ' e t a i t r e s s e r r e dans l a p l e n i t u d e de l a m a t u r i t e . De l a d o u l e u r s'y l i s a i t , mais v i e i l l e , d u p r e m i e r age. A u s s i t o t qu'on l e r e v o y a i t a i n s i , on comprenait que r i e n , aucun mot, aucune v i o l e n c e a u monde n ' a u r a i t eu r a i s o n du changement de M i c h a e l R i c h a r d s o n . Qu'il l u i f a u d r a i t maintenant e t r e v e c u jusqu'au bout. E l l e commengait d e j a l a n o u v e l l e h i s t o i r e de M i c h a e l R i c h a r d s o n , a se f a i r e . (L.V.S., p.17) A w o r l d dominated by t h e " l o o k " i s s u r f a c i n g w i t h t h e b a l l , symbol, or so i t seems, o f t h e myth o f r o m a n t i c  love.  The n a r r a t o r now r e v e a l s t o  us t h a t h i s " s t o r y " i s t o be t o l d f r o m one p o i n t o f view o n l y : c o n n a i s L o i V. S t e i n de l a s e u l e f a g o n que j e p u i s s e , d'amour." p.46)  "Je (L.V.S.,  " S t o r i e s " would seem t o b e g i n w i t h t h e s e t t i n g up o f an e r o t i c con-  j u n c t i o n between " s e e i n g " and " p o s s e s s i n g " , a mechanism by which woman, d e s i r e d " o b j e c t " o f a masculine " s u j e c t / o b j e c t " l o v i n g , i s h e l d c a p t i v e . Loi  somehow t r i p s t h e s w i t c h o f t h i s mechanism and, i n s t e a d o f " s u f f e r i n g " ,  i s drawn i n t o h e r own f a n t a s y o f t h e t h i r d p e r s o n e x c l u d e d : C e t t e v i s i o n e t c e t t e c e r t i t u d e ne p a r u r e n t pas s'accompagner chez L o i de s o u f f r a n c e .  -  81 -  Tatiana l a trouve elle-meme changee. Elle guettait l'evenement, couyait son immensite, sa precision d'horlogerie. S i elle avait ete 1'agent meme non seulement de sa venue mais de son succes, Loi n'aurait pas ete plus fascinee (L.V.S., pp.17-8). As though hypnotized, Loi moves implacably toward the re-creation of the same "ball" scenario, in which she, as the third person, excluded, would witness the disrobing of the other woman by her fiance: L'homme de T. Beach n'a plus qu'une tache a accomplir, toujours l a meme dans l'univers de Loi: Michael Richardson, chaque apresmidi, commence a. devetir une autre femme que Loi et lorsque d'autres seins apparaissent, blancs, sous le fourreau noir, i l en reste la.; ebloui, un Dieu lasse par cette mise a. nu, sa tache unique, et Loi attend vainement qu'il l a reprenne, de son corps infirme de 1'autre elle crie, elle attend en vain, elle crie en vain. Puis un jour ce corps infirme. remue dans le ventre de Dieu (L.V.S., pp.50?l). The repetition of the same scenarios and the theme of voyeurism are closely related in the Durassian text.  We find the two intertwined at the core of  Lol's particular brand of fantasy/obsession or madness, although both motifs had become familiar in the work of the writer before the appearance of Loi V. Stein.  Perhaps i t i s in Moderato Cantabile that their  presence i s f i r s t noticed; with the screams of the murdered woman, an equilibrium i s disturbed and a search begins.  An event has occurred which  i s heard but not seen, and whose meaning escapes understanding — at least at the rational level.  The experience of hearing the screams and being  l e f t to imagine the causes and circumstances, has a profound impact on the young heroine, Anne Desbaresdes.  She keeps returning to the small working  -  82 -  class cafe where she f i r s t met Chauvin, following the "incident" heard from her child's piano lesson close by.  The world of "moderato" and  "cantabile", a world held harmoniously together by a large house, a child, a husband and social engagements, begins to fissure and crumble under the pressure of this strange exterior event. The wealthy woman repeatedly returns to drink wine with the factory worker whom she induces to invent possible reasons for the mysterious murder, i f only in order to avoid questioning why she keeps returning to meet him as she does, and by what influence, by what "transference" her emotions are undergoing the bizzare changes leading both of them implacably towards a mock re-enactment of the same scenario: Vous savez, d i t - i l , j'imagine aussi qu'il l'aurait f a i t de lui-meme un jour, meme sans ses instances a elle. Qu'elle n'etait pas seule a avoir decouvert ce qu'elle desirait de l u i . Elle revient de loin a ses questions, harcelante, methodiquement. — Je voudrais que vous me disiez le commencement meme, comment i l s ont commence a se parler. C'est dans un cafe, disiezvous... (Moderato Cantabile, p.32). One possible response i s that women are inevitably caught up in the same scenarios, the same love stories, ln a male dominated society, as in a literature dominated by masculine perspectives.  (One need only bring to  mind the similarity in predicaments of three of the greatest nineteenthcentury heroines:  Anna Karinina, Madame Bovary, and Madame de Renal).  How would the world appear, perceived from a feminine perspective (and this i s not simply a "woman's point of view", since women in a male-dominated culture too often "see" from a masculinized perspective)?  -  83 -  The unusual passivity of the Durassian world, composed of a constant interaction of "regarder" and "voir", seems to emanate from the two heroines, the mother and daughter figures of Loi V. Stein and Anne-Marie Stretter.  The one in her obsession, the other in her indifference, both  begin to impose another world of enigma, of silence, and of "non-regard": Avait-elle regarde Michael Richardson en passant? L'avait-elle balaye de ce nonregard qu'elle promenait sur le bal? C e t a i t impossible de le savoir, c'est impossible de savoir quand, par consequence, commence mon histoire de Loi V. Stein: le regard chez elle — de pres on comprenait que ce defaut venait d'une decoloration presque penible de l a pupille — logeait dans toute l a surface des yeux, i l etait d i f f i c i l e a. capter (L.V.S., p.l6). J.P. Sartrealso created a fictive world dominated by the "look". However, in the sequestered Sartrian world of Huis Glos, for. instance, the characters are forced to face their predicament, searching for freedom through the imprisoning "look" of the other.  There, we are squarely in  the center of the masculine universe dominated by visual "reality". The Durassian universe, in contrast, reveals a search which leads beyond (or, more aptly, below) this prison through a transformation in both perspective, and the language informing our world.  Instead of the outer, visible  elements (form, order, linear thought) prevailing over the hidden inner ones (darkness, silence and mystery) the latter disorders the former. Through a constant questioning and disorienting of so-called outer "reality", a new perspective begins to appear.  In the words of the author, trans-  lated in Signs: That's i t : reverse everything, including analysis and criticism... Reverse everything. Make women the point of departure i n judging,  -  84 -  make darkness the point of departure i n judging what men c a l l light, make obscurity the point of departure in judging what men c a l l c l a r i t y . ^ 1  In Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein, this reversal in perspectives revolves around the disorientation and victimization of the male narrator by the subject of his narration:  Loi Stein.  Following the death of her parents Loi returns to her home town, a ten-year period having elapsed since the ball and her subsequent i l l ness. She keeps her l i f e in implacable order, as she did during the ten years lived away with her husband and children at U-Bridge. The unflawed harmony of her ordered l i f e i s disturbed only by a new added activity: each afternoon i s spent wandering the streets of her home town. Parallel to this somewhat mysterious new penchant of Loi, there i s an increasing perturbation of the narration. The "realistic fallacy" underlying the traditional novel i s being taunted by the narrator's increasingly neurotic proclivity for indicating what he i s doing at any given moment: Je vois ceci: La chaleur d'un ete qu'elle a distraitement subie jusqu'a ce jour eclate et se repand. Loi en est submergee. Je vois ceci: Prudente, calculeuse, elle marche assez loin derriere l u i .  J'invente, je vois: Elle ne ressent 1'etouffement de l'ete que lorsqu'il f a i t un geste supplementaire a cette marche, quand i l se passe l a main dans les cheveux, quand i l allume une cigarette,, et surtout quand i l regarde passer une femme.  -  85  -  J'invente: A cette distance i l ne peut meme pas entendre son pas sur le trottoir (L.V.S., pp.53-6) The increasing tension around, and fragmentation of, the narrative "point of view", culminates at the moment when the present irrupts into the text, disclosing the narrator's identity: Enlacees elles montent les marches du perron. Tatiana presente a Loi Pierre Beugner, son mari, et Jacques Hold, un de leurs amis, l a distance est couverte, moi. (L.V.S., p.74) What we witness from this point on i s the augmenting confusion of the narrator as he and the others become Lol's victims: Nous sommes dans ses mains? Pourquoi? comment? Je ne sais rien (L.V.S., p.90). It seems that the harder he works at controlling the story — what he invents —  what he sees,  the more surely he i s led into temporal contradictions  and eventual emotional chaos.  He continues to play (in Genette's terms)  the role of "extradiegetic" narrator, the third person with an external view of things, while at the same time becoming a "homodiegetic" narrator, a protagonist in the drama unfolding before us. Contradictions and i l l o g i c a l juxtapositions result.  If we try to identify with the narrative "point  of view", we find ourselves uncomfortably amidst scenes, and fragments of scenes, narrated simultaneously in the past and present tenses: Elle embrasse ma bouche. Je ne l u i donne rien. J'ai eu trop j>eur. Je ne peux pas encore. Elle trouve cette impossibilite attendue. Je suis dans l a nuit de T. Beach. C'est f a i t . La, on ne donne rien a Loi V. Stein. Elle prend (L.V.S., p.112). Loi leads the other characters, as the writing itself, the "text", leads  -  86  -  the narration, into an abyss, somehow removed from the ordinary world  —  dark, murky, mysterious, and very unsettling: L'approche de Loi n'existe pas. On ne peut pas se rapprocher ou s*eloigner d'elle. II faut attendre qu'elle vienne vous chercher, qu'elle veuille. Elle veut, je le comprends clairement, etre rencontree par. moi et vue par moi dans un certain espace qu'elle amenage en ce moment. Lequel? (L.V.S., p.105) The narration fragments further, cracking,slipping apart, opening into the fabulous space of Lol's wandering, the zone of her strange "absence", existing somewhere outside of the narrator's grasp, and taking on the outward appearance of a strange negative, in the sense of photographic negative.  An unusual "voyeuse", she assumes her waif-like v i g i l  in the rye f i e l d opposite the hotel window behind which Jacques Hold and Tatiana Karl make love.  The disorientation of the narration reaches the  point where f i r s t and third person perspectives alternate rapidly, the " I " of Jacques Hold appearing in relationship to Loi, and the "he" in relationship to Tatiana.  What i s occurring i s that Lol's madness appears to be  forcing him to play two contradictory roles simultaneously: Je suis retourne a l a fenetre, elle etait toujours laY, l a dans ce champ, seule dans ce champ d'une maniere dont elle ne pouvait temoigner devant personne. J'ai su cela d'elle en meme temps que j'ai su mon amour, sa suffisance inviolable, geante aux mains d'enfant. II regagna le l i t , s'allongea le long de Tatiana Karl. l i s s'enlacerent dans l a fraicheur du soir naissant. Par l a fenetre ouverte entrait le parfum du seigle. II le dit a Tatiana (L.V.S., p.125). It i s as though Loi i s forcing him to love her vicariously through his erotic love for Tatiana Karl, her former friend.  Thus Lol's erotic love  -  87  -  can be seen as a movement toward the female body, f i r s t toward the body of Anne-Marie Stretter, and now, body of Tatiana.  by substitution, toward the voluptuous  But this movement i s achieved only through the desiring  eyes of the male. According to Else Yoigtlander, an early psycho-analyst quoted "by Murray Stein in an article entitled  "Narcissus":  Feminine activity has not the same clear relationship to an object as does masculine activity; i t i s lived out in quite another way, in i t s e l f , exhausting i t s course in i t self, in i t s own interior, and therein the woman lives and moves, swimming as i t were, in her proper element.15 Swimming in the feminine element i s an apt description for what we are beginning to experience in Marguerite Duras' story of Loi V. Stein. However, the reversal bringing us to the feminine perspective i s only in i t s incipient stages and remains, therefore, a disorienting and fragmenting experience.  As Loi pulls Jacques Hold into her voyeuristic game —  very personal erotic fantasy —  her  his disorientation reaches hallucinatory  heights: Je ne sais que faire. Je vais a l a fenetre, oui, elle dort. Elle vient l a pour dormir. Dors. Je repars, je m'allonge encore. Je me caresse. II parle a Loi V. Stein perdue pour toujours, i l l a console d'un malheur i n existant et qu'elle ignore. II passe ainsi le temps. L'oubli vient. II appelle Tatiana, l u i demande de 1'aider. (L.V.S., p.162) At the end of the novel, Loi i s ensconsed, asleep in the rye f i e l d in front of the hotel window. She cannot actually "see" anything so i t i s to be assumed that her own imagination i s the source from which she nourishes her fantasy.  This i s not common voyeurism, or even the  -  88  -  basically voyeuristic mood of our world so centered around the visual image; something different i s occurring.  It would appear that the open  window through which one actually sees the activity of others i s changing function, becoming instead the window of imagination, and, i n this instance, of the female unconscious. In an article entitled "Voir.  Etre vue", Viviane Forrester mentions  the frequent appearance of the open window by which one may "spy" on the other, i n the Durassian text.  There i s the window in Moderato Cantabile  through which Chauvin spies on Anne occupied with her "toilette";  or the  one in Detruire, dit-elle, through which Stein watches the couple Alissa/ Thor making love.  She does not mention, however, the later texts such as  Le Navire Night, and particularly Aurelia Steiner where the roles are reversed:  here i t i s the young women who watch and describe the world from  the other side, from imagination and the unconscious. Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein does not end with the last page of the novel; as the baffled narrator expresses i t : Je nie l a f i n qui va venir probablement nous separer, sa f a c i l i t e , sa simplicite desolante, car du moment que je l a nie, celle-la, j'accepte 1'autre, celle qui est a. inventer, que je ne connais pas, que personne encore n'a inventee: la f i n sans f i n , le commencement sans f i n de Loi V. Stein (L.V.S., p.184). Loi has begun a journey into transformation which leads us eventually to the writing voice of Aurelia Steiner.  It may be seen as the germination  of a new rhetoric; i t i s a uniquely different perception of the world. The world of the "look", a world of representation and theoretical concepts — removed, objectified — i s breaking down, seemingly under the pressure of the released force of the silence and mystery so long hidden  -  89 -  below the surface. From her place of madness, " l a nuit de S. Thala", Loi infuses the world with her passivity;  like Narcissus before the beautiful image in the  pool, she cannot tear herself away from her erotic connection with the flesh of the other woman. First because she i s part of that flesh in her female body — as she i s the same as the mother from whom she was born — and therefore contiguous, not neatly separated; secondly because her erotic desire has left her a victim of rejection;  romantic/erotic love i s exclusive to  the couple for whom she i s the third, forever excluded, separated. Thus: "Loi V. Stein:  tout Loi repandue et tout Stein p e t r i f i e . " ^  Lol's wandering continues in L'Amour, a world of sand, sea, and of ruins.  Hypnos and Thanatos, the brothers of sleep and of death, rule in  this mythic underworld where collective archetypal patterns from the world of memoria, the world of unconscious memory, begin appearing.  The move-  ments of " l a Femme" — Loi in the process of transformation — take on the contours of the ancient myth of female initiation, "the descent of Inanna" recounted in the preliminary.  "Seeing" from the perspective of  this archetypal paradigm leads to a fascinating unfolding of the hidden in the Durassian text.  L'Amour: A World in Limbo. The ordered world of "le regard" i s in fragments.  In L'Amour, a  i  sort of "palimpsest" of the novels Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein and Le Vice-Consul, the narrators have disappeared.  The characters, now  "dead", continue their repetition in a world stripped bare and overwhelmed  - 90 by t h e s e a and sandy beach.  "La Femme" ( t h e former L o i V. S t e i n ) f o l l o w s  f i r s t " l e f o u " , and then " l e voyageur", a l o n g t h e o t h e r w i s e d e s e r t e d beach: " E l l e a e t e vraiment d e t r u i t e pendant l a n u i t de S. T h a l a " (Les P a r l e u s e s , p.125).  I t i s a s though t h e madness o f t h e L o i o f Le Ravissement de L o i V.  S t e i n i s now p e r s o n i f i e d i n t h e c h a r a c t e r o f " l e f o u " . represents t h e t h i r d person excluded.  Now i t i s he who  H i s r e g u l a r f o o t s t e p s , l i k e those  o f " l a mendiante" i n Le V i c e - G o n s u l , p a r a l l e l t h e f l o w o f t h e w r i t i n g i t self —  t h e rythm o f t h e words and phrases f o r m i n g , f a l l i n g a p a r t , and r e -  f o r m i n g c o n s t a n t l y on t h e page: E l l e se t i e n t , l a v i s a g e v e r s l e s a b l e . L u i r e g a r d e v e r s l a digue c e l u i q u i s ' e l o i g n e . —  q u i c'est?  E l l e repond avec un l e g e r r e t a r d : —  I I nous garde —  prend —  elle re  i l nous garde, i l nous  ramine. I I l e r e g a r d e longtemps. —  Ge p a r c o u r s t o u j o u r s  e g a l . . . Ge pas s i r e g u l i e r . . . on dirait.., E l l e f a i t s i g n e : non. —  Non, c ' e s t l e pas d ' i c i  —  e l l e reprend —  c ' e s t l e pas  i c i , a S. Thala. (L'A., p.24-5) The t h i r d person r e p r e s e n t e d by t h e fool/madman i s , a c c o r d i n g t o t h e a u t h o r , always p r e s e n t , e i t h e r c o v e r t l y o r o v e r t l y , i n h e r t e x t s . r e f e r s t o t h i s " t h i r d " as the w r i t i n g i t s e l f :  She  " E t vous c r o y e z que ce  _  9  l -  troisieme personnage, ce n'est pas l'ecriture?"  (Les Parleuses. p.48).  "Le fou" (later "les fous" in La Femme du Gange) "becomes a symbol for the openness, and for the essence of discovery, increasingly associated with the writing voice emerging in the "India Song" texts: II est poreux, le Fou. II n'est rien, done les choses le traversent completement. Done l'histoire de S. Thala le traverse. L'histoire de Loi V. Stein, qui est l'histoire de S. Thala, c'est une seule et meme chose. (Les Lieux., p.96) L'Amour i s a t i t l e "en reaction" states the author, "II est venu apres, quand le livre a ete f i n i .  C'est un t i t r e en reaction contre les  titres similaires" (Les Parleuses, p.67).  "Love", the Durassian texts  beginning with Moderato Cantabile and Hiroshima mon amour seem to say, i s woman's only possibility and, at the same time, an impossibility —  unless  perhaps i t i s accepted with violence, antagonism and inevitable suffering. L"Amour presents us with a provocative "negative" image, as though we are seeing the drama from a reversed perspective, and in black and white, the usual contents being somehow belied by  a far deeper truth yet to unfold:  Elle dort. II prend du sable, i l le verse sur son corps. Elle respire, le sable bouge, i l s'ecoule d'elle. II en reprend, i l recommence. Le sable s'ecoule encore. II en reprend encore, le verse encore. II s'arrete. — Amour. Les yeux s'ouvrent, i l s regardent sans voir, sans reconnaitre rien, puis i l s se referment, i l s retournent au noir.(Jj.'A., p.124) The amplification and projection of Lol's madness into the oceanic expanse of sand and waves i s like a limitlessness held in suspension by the  -  92  -  r e p e t i t i v e footsteps of the prisoner, " l e fou". world of sand —  symbol of time —  Time i s a p r i s o n , t h i s  seems t o be saying.  This space of S .  Thala i s the memory "guarded" by " l e fou": " i l garde l a memoire, o u i . I I est sans memoire et i l garde l a memoire, o u i . I I est fou" (Les Lieux., p.96).  I t i s as though, l i k e the subject of s e l f - p o r t r a i t u r e , he has t r a n -  scended the confines of the personal ego, a t t a i n i n g the c o l l e c t i v e unconscious of the c u l t u r e .  The world of L'Amour, held together by the mad-  man/fool, i s a world caught i n limbo —  as the s e l f - p o r t r a i t i s suspended  between memory and invention — between a re-membering and a f o r - g e t t i n g , a l e t t i n g go: L'homme qui r e g a r d a i t e s t passe. Son pas s'entend de moins en moins. On l e v o i t , i l va vers une digue q u i e s t a u s s i eloignee de l a femme que l ' e s t d ' e l l e l e marcheur de l a plage. Au-dela. de l a digue, une autre v i l l e , bleue, qui commence a se piquer de lumieres e l e c t r i q u e s . Puis d'autres v i l l e s , d'autres encore: La meme (L'A.. p . l l ) . Being reduced always t o the same, what man i s , or i s not, an i d e n t i t y which i s i n essence a non-identity, has been the f a t e of woman i n man's language, as i n h i s world.  Perhaps t h i s can a l s o be seen as the  f a t e of language i t s e l f i n the novel as i t has grown i n c r e a s i n g l y " s e l f conscious", during the twentieth century p a r t i c u l a r l y .  I n her study,  N a r c i s s i s t i c N a r r a t i v e : The M e t a f i c t i o n a l Paradox, Linda Hutcheon uses the myth of Narcissus and Echo t o i l l u s t r a t e t h i s predicament: In the myth, Narcissus' f a t e i s i n t e r e s t i n g l y prefigured — with s i g n i f i c a n t v a r i a t i o n s — by that of " r e s o n a b i l i s Echo" who cannot remain s i l e n t , cannot be ignored, and yet cannot be a c r e a t i v e , autonomous force on her own. Her destiny i s not u n l i k e that of n o v e l i s t i c language.17  -  93  -  It would appear that the novel i s suffering a similar fate to that of woman in "man's" language. The domain of the novel, symbolized by the "organizing" efforts of the narrator, has been left behind in the poetic text of L'Amour. Here the language i s composed of images reflecting an organic-like connectedness to the things they name; i t i s a language which refers constantly back to i t s e l f and to i t s own cyclic movement which i s so different from the linear progression qualifying the ordinary world of cause and effect relationship: Trois jours. Trois jours au cours desquels i l y a un dimanche. Le bruit croit, S. Thala chancelle, puis le bruit deeroft. II f a i t orage qui demonte l a mer. Trois nuits. Au matin, des mouettes sont mortes sur l a plage. Du cote de l a digue, un chien. Le chien mort est face aux piliers d'un casino bombarde. Au-dessus, le c i e l est tres sombre, au-dessus du chien mort. r  Les voici revenus. I l s arrivent de l a riviere, i l s traversent, i l s longent S. Thala, i l s le courent. I l s sortent des trois jours d'obscurite, de nouveau on les voit dans la lumiere solaire d'un S. Thala desert.  (L'A., pp.32-3) "Le chien mort de l a plage" which f i r s t appears in Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein (p.48) in the section describing Lol's illness, has reappeared in association with the cycle of three days, a period of time significant to several "ressurection" myths.  Inanna descends to the  underworld called Kur, meaning desert, where her dark sister Ereshkigal rules.  There she i s killed and hung on a peg to rot for three days.  She  _  94  -  is then rescued through the efforts of her faithful maid-servant, Nimshuhur. Christ's resurrection occurred following three days in the tomb. The analogy i s not such a surprising one to make since the myth of the descent of Inanna pre-dates the resurrection of Christ by approximately three thousand years, going back to a time when cults to the great goddess flourished, and the patriarchy had not come into f u l l rule. Loi suffers the trauma of every woman, that i s , to be excluded from humanity ... "Hypertrophiee, c'est 5a. de toute femme" (Les Parleuses, suffer in the same way.  Le trauma i n i ... i n i t i a l  p.l59)» yet she does not continue to  Instead,  the famous "accident" occurs whereby  she moves into her fantasy as though into an underworld, like Persephone pulled down into Hades from the f i e l d of Narcissi.  "S. Thala desert" in  which Loi exists, i s the isolation and projection immanent to "le regard": the nothingness, "le rien" of the third excluded which i s , according to the writer, as much woman in relationship to male-defined humanity (and to the woman as object within herself) as i t i s the third excluded from the couple: Arrete devant elle i l l a regarde. Elle doit voir quelque chose de l a violence du regard. Elle cherche l a destination de cette violence, elle s'etonne, elle demande: — Qu'est-ce qu'il y a? — Je vous regarde. Elle dit, elle demande: — II n'y a pas de voyage n'est-ce pas? — Non. Nous sommes a, S. Thala, enfermes — i l ajoute — je vous regarde . , (L'A., p.115) Removed as i t were from her own body, she seems destined to wander  j  -  95  -  nameless, as Echo wanders bodiless, repeating, throwing back the answer in the same form as the question s t i l l not hers, in her non-identity of "Loi" and " l a femme", to ask: Elle se tait. II ne questionne pas. La phrase res.te ouverte, elle n'en connaft pas l a f i n . Elle se fermera plus tardj elle le ressent, ne precipite rien, attend. (L'A., p.62) The discourse evolving within the text i s successive to listening; i t follows instead of leading, like the language of Echo, yet i t lacks the sequacity of her repetitive chatter. It i s a language intimately connected to voice, and involved i n an expansive/receptive "seeing" very different from the "vouloir/pouvoir" normally associated with "le regard".  It i s  kindred to the contemplation of the innocent Narcissus, (before he f e l l prey to interpretation!), enthralled by the image before him in the pool — in love with pure image, and not with anything he identifies with an ego self.  If we imagine Narcissus in this disconnected state, in which seeing  is less the usual effort to render the other "object" and more an act of receiving, the role of "le fou" becomes clearer.  With his even step and  his vast, all-encompassing, transparent blue gaze, the madman/fool "guards" the world of L'Amour, the reversal of the world of order, theory, and the domination of the "look": Le voyageur designe l a mer devant eux, l a mer, puis derriere, l'epaisseur: — Qu'est-ce que vous faites, vous marchez au bord de l a mer? Au bord de S. Thala? — Oui — Rien d'autre? — Non. Le regard bleu se tourne vers l a mer, revient. II est limpide, d'une intensite fixe.  - 96 Le voyageur reprend: — Pourtant... ce mouvement s i clair, s i regulier... ce parcours s i precis.... — Non. Non... — i l s'arrete encore — je suis fou. (L'A., p.31) These eyes reveal a cold, searching objectivity that goes far beyond the usual play of looks entrapping us in our world, the world painted by Sartre and destroyed in the Durassian text: Ses yeux sont bleus, d'une transparence frappante. L'absence de son regard est absolue.. (i/A., p.l6) Le regard bleu est d'une fixite engloutissante. (L'A., p.l?) Ses yeux brillent. L'obscurite est presque totale. II regarde comme en plein jour. Longuement (L'A.. p.69). The "objectivity" (in the sense of "exteriorizing", not "reducing to an object") of such vision i s deeply disconcerting since i t points beyond the reassuring world of accepted views, thus obviating the usual "regard" i n volved in games of seduction and domination.  In the myth of Inanna, the  "eyes of death" that belong to Ereshkigal, the dark sister-queen of the underworld, and which Inanna has incorporated when she i s rescued and brought back to l i f e and the upper world, are described by Sylvia Perera in similar terms of "objectivity": Archetypally, these eyes of death are implacable and profound, seeing an immediate is-ness that finds pretense, ideals, even individuality and relatedness, irrelevant.18 It i s these eyes which enable Inanna to confront her consort, Dumuzi, and through that confrontation realize a new autonomy in her love relationships.  -  97  -  Like the penetrating vision of "le fou", these eyes "make possible a perception of reality without the distortions and preconceptions of a superego.  This means seeing not what might be good or bad, but what exists  before judgment, which i s always messy and f u l l of affect and of the preverbal percepts of the near senses (touch, smell, t a s t e ) . " ^ In this process of altering seeing from the prison of the look to the expansive vision of "le fou", the images and symbols become more ambiguous, allowing greater scope for individual interpretation. L'Amour, for example, i s tenuously constructed of fragments, of words grouping together, then f a l l i n g away and regrouping into other simple groups.  The central component i s the image which appears to be  influenced more by the flux of nature —  the sea, the alternation of light  and dark, the movement of the figures on the beach —  than by any con-  scious effort on the part of the writer to form a narrative. Duras 20 describes her method as "description par touches de couleurs."  Again i t  involves a "seeing" which relates to the "eyes of death" in the myth of Inannas Seeing this way — which i s i n i t i a l l y so frightening because i t cannot be validated by the collective — can provide what Logos consciousness fears as mere chaos, with the possibilities of a totally fresh perception, a new pattern, a creative perspective, a never ending exploration.^1 Words flow in a tumble of fresh images —  of sound, of touch, of taste,  and of smell — II entre dans I'espace clos, seul, l a porte sa referme. Tout a coup, avec l u i , l'iode de l a mer, le sel, l a fulgurance hleue des yeux du plein jour, de nuit pleine. (L'A., p.40)  -  98  -  The f o o t s t e p s of " l e f o u " j o i n t o g e t h e r the f o o t s t e p s of the two o t h e r s , r e f o r m i n g c o n s t a n t l y the l o v e t r i a n g l e  a t the h e a r t  of the " s t o r y " .  come t o g e t h e r and separate a g a i n i n a rythm r e f l e c t i n g the cadence... of waves on the sandy beach, i n t u r n i n f l u e n c e d by the a l t e r n a t i o n  They the  of day and  night: L a c o l e r e , l a p l a i n t e v i e n t de c e s s e r . Un d e r n i e r f l o t de p a r o l e s s o r t de l u i . Ses yeux b r i l l e n t e t se ferment, f a c e a l a p a i x des eaux. — Objet du d e s i r a b s o l u d i t - i l , aommeilde n u i t , v e r s c e t t e h e u r e - c i en g e n e r a l ou q u ' e l l e s o i t , ouverte a tous l e s vents — i l s ' a r r e t e , il r e p r e n d — o b j e t de d e s i r , e l l e e s t a q u i veut d ' e l l e , e l l e l e p o r t e e t l'embarque, o b j e t de 1'absolu d e s i r . Ses yeux s ' o u v r e n t . II se tourne v e r s c e t a u t r e homme, l e voyageur, p u i s v e r s e l l e q u i d o r t , p u i s son r e g a r d t r a v e r s e S . T h a l a , se P e r d  *  (I/A., PP.50-1)  We are i n a k i n e s t h e t i c u n i v e r s e where the senses have become b l e n d e d , as though a t t a c h e d t o the continuous movement of the elements, and where sound and v i s i o n are connected i n a pure s y n a e s t h e s i a : Dans 1 * i m p o s s i b i l i t e de r e p o n d r e , l e voyageur l i v e l a main et montre autour de l u i , l ' e s p a c e . Le geste f a i t , i l p a r v i e n t a avancer dans l a r e p o n s e . — C*est-a-dire,,, — i l a'arrete — j e me s o u v i e n s . . . c ' e s t c a . . . j e me s o u v i e n s , . . II s'arrete. L a v o i x au timbre lumineux se h i s s e j u s q u ' a l u i , e l l e l u i porte l a r e p o n s e , sa c l a r t e e s t e b l o u i s s a n t e .  -  99  -  — De quoi? Une poussee incontrolable, organique, d'une force tres grande le prive de voix. II repond sans voix: — De tout, de 1'ensemble, (L'A., pp.18-9), The effect of the synaesthesia —  " l a voix au timbre lumineux", i s to put  us, through the sensation and emotion evoked, into immediate contact with the undulating world of disintegrating time and memory in the text. "C'est uniquement l a fonction emotive qui met en jeu 1'expression d'une  *  22  pure synesthesie." It i s a world, according to the writer, existing before theory and reflection: Elle est incapable de reflechir, Loi V. Stein, elle s'est arretee de vivre avant l a reflexion. C'est peut-etre ga qui f a i t qu'elle m'est tellement chere, enfin, tenement proche, je ne sais pas... La reflexion est un temps que je trouve douteux, qui m'ennuie. Et s i vous prenez mes personnages, i l s sont tous, i l s precedent tous ce tempsla, enfin, les personnages que j'aime, que j'aime profondement (Les Lieux., p.98). Considered from the linguistic point of view, i t i s a time before the intellectual constructions of symbol and metaphor: La metaphore apparaxt ainsi comme 1'introduction dans le discours d'une image constitute au niveau de l'activite linguistique. Elle occupe une situation intermediaire entre le symbole, qui introduit 1*image au niveau de l a construction intellectuelle, et l a synesthesie, qui est l a saisie d'une corres^ondance an niveau de l a perception elle-meme, en dega de l'activite linguistique. 23 In this synaesthetic world of L'Amour, time has been transformed into space and the narrative shattered into images occupying this space.  -  100  -  Memories, like small fragments, side by side, form the substance of the "story" constantly vanishing and re-appearing with the trio on the beach: — Dites-moi quelque chose de l'histoire. II ne se retourne pas, ne voit rien que devant l u i , i l repond: — A mon avis, 1'ile est sortie en premier — i l montre l a mer — de la. S. Thala est arrivee apres, avec l a poussiere — i l ajoute — vous savez? le temps... (L'A., p.49) We are held in a compelling and rarefied here and now of unbroken ebb and flow, becoming and dissolution. consequence;  Order and sequence seem of l i t t l e or no  or perhaps we are down to the bare essentials of time: Instants or the "eternal nows" are, as the mystics claim, the stuff out of which the real time i s made. In this sense, instants are like images: individual monadic wholes without preestablished ' order or sequence.24  The remembering of the ball, which formed the basis for Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein, has been reduced in L'Amour to the remembering of the second which brought the ball to an end: couple and simultaneous collapse of Loi.  the withdrawal of the  It i s the precise second in  which we are faced with the nothingness, the absence, the silence upon which this text floats: — Pendant un instant elle sera aveuglee. Puis elle recommencera a me voir. A distinguef le sable de l a mer, puis, l a mer de l a lumiere, puis son corps de mon corps. Apres elle separera le froid de l a nuit et elle me le donnera. Apres settlement elle entendra. le bruit vous savez...? de Dieu?... ce true...?  -  101  -  Ils se taisent. I l s surveillent l a progression de l'aurore exterieure. FIN The end i s the beginning of a new day, and each day i s a waiting and a repetition — , until the myth begins to move on, as occurs in the Durassian text with the appearance of Aurelia Steiner, clearly a rebirth of the sacrificed Loi.  We cannot force transformation and rebirth just as  we cannot force the archetypes within us; myth that they reveal themselves to us.  i t i s in dream, poetry, and  During the dark periods of  descent, we can do no more that we witness " l a femme" doing at the end of the text:  performing her r i t u a l and waiting. "There we wait with patience"  writes Perera, "going deeper and waiting together until the goddess as 25 Time i s ready to 'decree a kind fate'. " We find that, side by side, these fragments embody a mnemonic leading us implacably to the same story "... l a v i l l e bleue, l a blanche, puis d'autres aussi, d'autres encore:  l a meme"(p.20) of overwhelming  desire and absence, "rien", silence, pure space, and pure image —  the  essence of the feminine voice beginning to stir, to move slowly towards rebirth from i t s land of Hypnos and Thanatos: Elle marche lentement, continument vers l a digue. Elle ne se retourne pas vers 1'hotel. Elle va, dans l a nuit, droit. L'enfant, c'est l'enfant, sa naissance. Lui, 1'autre, cette nuit, l a suit. Elle fonce, bestiale, elle va. Elle disparait derriere l a masse noire de l a digue, elle se perd dans les sables, le vent illimite, II se perd a son tour, disparart a son tour. Plus rien. Que l'epaisseur innombrable, endormie. (L'A., p.73)  -  102 -  It i s toward this story of woman that a second perusal of L'Amour, now in relationship to Le Vice-Gonsul, will take us.  L'Amour and Le Vice-Consul: a Devolution of the Myth of Woman. There i s a place on the beach in L'Amour that seems to act as an orientation point, attracting, for obscure reasons, the repetitive wandering of the three central characters.  This point i s " l a digue", the  dyke, or another word for "barrage", sea wall: Elle le regarde, l u i , le voyageur, elle scrute les vitements, le visage, les mains. Elle touche l a main, l'effleure avec precaution, douceur, puis elle l'appelle, elle designe l a digue, elle d i t : — Le c r i arrivait de l a . De l a direction qu'elle vient de montrer, i l surgit. II est loin encore. De l a digue, i l revient, celui qui marche. Le voila. (L'A.. p.28) The character who manifests the greatest interest in this point of visual reference upon the beach i s "l'homme de T-Beach", "le voyageur" — the same Michael Richardson who l e f t Loi sitting stunned behind the plants the night of the renowned ball.  He left with the beautiful older woman  whom he later followed to India, towards the south;  the author did the  reverse, leaving the south for the north: X.G. —Quand Richardson s'en va, c'est comme s ' i l a l l a i t vers un passe, alors, vers ton passe. M.D. -Oui, oui, c'est vrai.  (  L  e  sP a x l e u s e s >  p  .  1 2 o )  -  103 -  The woman of the original sea wall, the mother of the author, was a woman from the north in a foreign southern land. The use of reversals, a dominant Durassian technique, brings to mind the Tarot symbol of the hanged man: having lost his customary upward "ego" stance in the world, he i s forced to experience the world from the "unconscious", his head dangling among the tree roots.  The effect of the reversal in the Durassian uni-  verse i s of a similar magnitude. The sea wall has thus reappeared, transformed into a mobile dyke, since the meaning of "digue" i s "barrage mobile". to its portability from text to text.  "Mobile" may even refer  When the criss-crossing of looks  and sounds stop for an instant, a cry i s heard arriving from behind the dyke: Un c r i . On a c r i ! vers l a digue. Le c r i a ete profere et on l'a entendu dans I'espace tout entier, occupe ou vide. II a lacere l a lumiere obscure, l a lenteur. Toujours bat le pas de l'homme qui marche, i l ne s'est pas arret!, i l n'a pas ralenti, mais elle, elle a relev! legerement son bras dans un geste d'enfant, elle s'en est recouvert les yeux, elle est restee ainsi quelques secondes, et l u i , le prisonnier, ce geste, i l l'a vu: i l a tourne l a tete dans l a direction de l a femme. p  "Un c r i " — an echo from former times?  <  1  2  )  The screams of the murdered  woman in Moderato Cantabile? The cry of Loi from behind the plants? The cries of the vice-consul? The absent cries of the dying baby given to the  26 mother, who in turn gave i t to the daughter  — an autobiographical  anecdote f i r s t recounted in Un Barrage contre le Pacifique?  With the  arrival of the cry from behind the sea wall, the story can now begin:  -  104 -  L'histoire. Elle commence. Elle a commence avant l a marche au bord de l a mer, le c r i , le geste, le mouvement de l a mer, le mouvement de la lumiere. Mais elle devient maintenant visible. C'est sur le sable que deja, elle s'implante, sur l a mer (L'A., p.13). It i s the cry, the dimension of "1*ecoute", that makes the story visible. We are in a very different world from our known and reassuring world of visual "reality".  Woman's story begins here since, according to the writer,  i t i s women who hear and recognize the anguish in cries and screams: Les femmes le savent, ga, a cause du silence dans lequel elles se tiennent depuis des millenaires.27 Marguerite Duras recognizes a sign of her sex in the subversity of these screams. She causes her characters to cry out...  )  ... parce que je suis une femme, les hommes n'oseraient pas le faire. Les hommes n'auraient pas ose faire crier le vice-consul comme i l crie. I l s auraient tout de suite parle de dScence ou d'indecence. Moi l'indecence, je ne sals pas ce que c'est parce que je suis une femme qui f a i t les films. S i je ne faisais rien, j'en serais sans doute encore la. a. etre confinee dans l a decence. Tandis que j'en sors en ecrivant et en faisant des films. C'est le seul point feministe peut-etre auquel je peux faire allusion.27 The sea wall becomes an orientation point for the unfolding of  feminine destiny i n suffering.  A woman, i t would seem, has the task of  uncovering and of weaving her own identity from a multiplicity of ident i t i e s within her.  "La femme" of L'Amour, for instance, i s essentially an  interweaving of Loi, " l a mendiante", at times Tatiana Karl and at other times, by metonymical linking of the motifs of sleep, forgetfulness, and  -  105 -  death, that other mysterious Durassian heroine, Anne-Marie Stretter.  Like  Echo, the identity of woman seems to exist only i n connection to other identities, as mirroring, reflection, and continuation: "J'attends un enfant, j'ai envie de vomir" (L'A., p.23)... "J'ai faim, j'attends un enfant" (L'A., p.35).  Hunger and vomiting are elements of the story of "la mendi-  ante" , f i r s t recounted in Le Vice-Consul, and seen here irrupting into the story of the woman on the beach.  "Le rongement incessant" of S. Thala  (L'A., p.22, 27, 38, 109, etc.), heard beside " l a femme" of L'Amour, brings us back, by the similarity i n sound, to the gnawing inside the stomach of the starving, pregnant "mendiante" of Le Vice-Consul: Elle vomit, s'efforce de vomir l'enfant, de se l'extirper, mais c'est de l'eau de mangue acide qui vient. Elle dort beaucoup, elle est devenue une dormeuse, c'est i n suffisant: nuit et jour l'enfant continue a l a manger, elle ecoute et entend le g r i gnotement incessant dans le ventre qu'il decharne, i l l u i a mange les cuisses, les bras, les joues — elle les cherche, i l n'y a que des trous l a ou elles etaient dans le Tonle-Sap — , l a racine des cheveux, tout, i l prend petit a petit l a place qu'elle occupait, cependant que "sa faim a elle i l ne l ' a pas mangee. Le feu acide de l'estomac apparait comme un soleil rouge pendant le sommeil (Le V.C., p.18). When the "rongement" later transforms into a "chant", the parallel with the story of " l a mendiante" "becomes more striking, for the "chant" of the beggar woman i s a salient motif in both Le Vice-Consul and India Song: Le bruit, l e i , a cesse. Le rongement incessant, la-bas, recommence. II grandit. II se transforme. II devient un chant. C'est un chant lointain. Les populations de S. Thala chantent, (L'A., p.38)  -  io6 -  Further along in the text, when we learn the place where the babies of " l a femme" are born and where they are abandoned, the connection with the beggar woman, and with the author's own past, becomes increasingly apparent: Ils marchent, i l s longent l a gare. II montre au voyageur l'epaisseur, l a masse de S. Thala. — Ses enfants sont dans, ce true, elle les leur donne — i l ajoute v i l l e en est pleine, l a  la-def a i t , elle — la terre.  II s'arrete, i l montre au loin, du cote de l a mer, de l a digue: — Elle les f a i t la, du cote du c r i , elle les laisse, i l s viennent, i l s les emportent. II fixe l a direction de l a digue, i l continue: —  G * est un pays de sables.  Le voyageur repete: — —  De sables, De vent.  BBS II montre de nouveau au voyageur l'enchaxnement continu: — Elle a habite partout, i c i ou ailleurs. Un hopital, un hotel, des champs, des pares, des routes — i l s'arrete — un casino municipal, vous le saviez? Maintenant elle est l a . (L'A., pp.52-3) The universality of the story of the beggar woman, " l a mendiante", i s here personified in the incredible story of the giving of children who soon f i l l the earth;  the image retained i s again one of hypertrophy, an  apparently senseless multiplying without meaning, an organic economy that  j  -  knows no bounds —  10?  -  a denuded fable of a nameless wanderer who, having  travelled the earth leaving behind children instead of monuments, now sits passively before us in her nausea, vomiting, and insatiable need for sleep. The cruelty of this l i f e which has defined "woman" i s described aptly in the following passage from Descent to the Goddess: Woman's l i f e has been the reality of constantly recurring childbirths, attended by real deaths — a natural cycle that kept most of her l i f e focused on the harsh malevolence of reality, on a sense of living at the brink of the abyss. So woman's creativity has gone into actual births and the arts and sustenance of the household — a l l subject to wear and destruction, to devouring — and not much appreciated i n the wider cultural context; though they are the basic c i v i l i z i n g force of any culture, immediate, personal, made in the small interstices of the process of sustaining survival.28 Sleep i s a motif closely tied to that of the infant, and i s perhaps the richest of the "feminine" motifs in the "India Song" texts.  The  Durassian heroine's experience i s deeply linked to sleep, to fantasy, and by metonymy, to dream and to death. Her universe i s one of sleep, of mystery, of death and of ruin —  as though the masculine world of hierar-  chies, order, and spirit, had been subsumed by a shadowy underworld of death, silence, wandering, and a nameless existence connected always to "la mer/mere"; here sounds begin to dominate, defining what i s real through inner feelings, senses, and synaesthetic associations: Les bruits des moteurs se multiplient encore, le mouvement des bateaux se multiplie encore, 1'engouffrement de l a mer continue. II parle, i l dits — Quel desordre — i l ajoute — i l faut attendre encore une heure, i l n'y aura plus de departs  -  108 -  et a mon avis l a mer aura cesse de monter — i l ajoute — car quand meme le temps passe. « ••  II montre l a riviere envahie, les dechirures de l'eau, le melange des forces d'eau, la remontee brutale du sel vers le sommeil. (L'A., pp.4?-7) Sleep (Hypnos) and death (Thanatos) are the brothers who reside in the underworld or "memoria", a world to which the repressed feminine in the patriarchy has withdrawn.  It i s through the motif of sleep, for example,  that the identities of Anne-Marie Stretter and " l a mendiante" become interwoven towards the end of Le Vice-Consul. Anne-Marie Stretter sleeps, in the following passage, as the others, the males, discuss the novel about the beggar woman which Peter Morgan i s writing: Pourquoi parler a cette femme qui dort? — Discours inutile et silence profond, dit Michael Richardson. — Serait-elle seule dans le livre? demande Charles Rossett. — Non, i l y aurait une autre femme qui serait Anne-Marie Stretter. Ils se tournent vers elle. — Oh, dit-elle, je dormais. (Le V.C., pp.182-3) Towards the end of Le Vice-Consul, in the hallucinatory atmosphere created by the heat of Calcutta, there i s a disorienting juxtaposition and parallel of narrative levels:  Peter Morgan writing his book, the mono-  tonous conversation between the director and the vice-consul, the delirous perspective of Charles Rossett who has fallen under the combined spell of Anne-Marie Stretter and the heat of Calcutta, and the ongoing discussion by the others, while Anne-Marie Stretter sleeps, on the subject of the  -  109 -  beggar woman and Peter Morgan's novel.  The discussion of the novel  parodies and reflects, in extraordinary fashion, the fluidity, hypnotic quality, and organic connectedness of the language within the larger context of the novel Le Vice-Gonsul.  Through this "mise en abime", the  language that i s emerging becomes apparent:  i t i s characterized by organic  image, sound in space, metonymy, non-reference, and constant becoming — the female voice which the self-portrait i s revealing: — Elle chante et parle, elle f a i t des discours inutiles dans le silence profond. II faudrait peut-etre dire ce que sont ces discours, dit George Crawn. Un rien l'amuse, un chien qui passe l a f a i t sourire, l a nuit elle se promene; moi, s i j'en parlais, je l u i ferais faire des choses a. l'envers, elle dormait dans l a journee a. 1'ombre des arbres, au bord du Gange par-ci par-la. Ge serait dans le Gange... en definitive que... qu'elle s'est perdue, qu'elle a trouve comment se perdre i l me semble, elle a oublie, ne sait plus qu'elle est l a f i l l e de X ou de Y. Plus d'ennui pour elle — George Crawn r i t — , nous sommes l a pour 5a en principe. Jamais, Jamais le moindre soupgon d'ennui.,. (Le V.C., p.l8l) •• •  — Elle serait a. Calcutta comme un... point au bout d'une longue ligne, de faits sans signification differenciee? II n'y aurait que... sommeils, faims, disparition des sentiments, et aussi du lien entre l a cause et l'effet? — Je crois que ce qu'il veut dire, d i t Michael Richard* c'est plus encore, i l voudrait ne l u i donner d'existence que dans celui qui l a regarderait yivre. Elle, elle ne ressent rien. (Le V.C., p.182) e• •  — Peut-etre faudrait-il qu'elle fasse quelque chose que les autres ne savent pas faire, tu ne crois *The spelling has changed from "Richardson" in Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein to "Richard" in Le Vice-Consul.  -  110 -  pas? Ainsi son passage pourrait etre signale. Une chose a quoi t'accrocher, meme minuscule. (Le V.C., p.183) The last passage may "be making an allusion to a hidden meaning in the text, and the one before to the role of the reader. Hidden meaning begins to emerge when the texts are read from the perspective of ancient myths;  language, when permitted the poetic freedom i t i s in the Durassian  text, seems to reveal the basic paradigms from which myth i s construed. The Narcissus and Echo myth, for instance, reflects the plight of the feminine in a masculine dominated world as well as in masculine dominated language.  Nor Hall describes this situation in the following passage: Wherever the domination of masculine values begins, as, for example, with the reigns of Yahweh and Zeus, complications of l i f e for the feminine are taken up into the myths of the people. The main reason, then, for going back to those shepherd poets, who (according to Hesiod) had stories blown into their ears through reeds by wind-borne maidens, i s that the plots and solutions of their tales prefigure the plight of the feminine in a patriarchate. Myths (to repeat) are not false stories but are complex and essential psychic facts. They arise out of the sleep cycle of a culture the way a dream comes up in the sleep of an individual.29  Sleep, hunger, vomiting, rotting flesh, suffering, boredom, wandering — Loi asleep in the rye f i e l d before the hotel window, " l a mendiante" sleeping by the river with the lepers, Anne-Marie Stretter sleeping in the exhausting heat of Calcutta — a l l are threads from which a woman's identity i s woven, forming her language, as they have formed her existence. Anne-Marie Stretter, woman of mystery and focus of so much passion, states i t with simple elegance: — C'est tres d i f f i c i l e de l'apercevoir  -  Ill  -  tout a f a i t — elle sourit — , je suis une femme... ce que je vois seulement c est une possibility dans le sommeil... 1  (Le V.C., p.127) In the centre of L'Amour there i s a woman in a house who calls herself "la morte de S. Thala".  She i s related in some obscure way to "le  voyageur" and to the woman on the beach;  i t i s as though she, in the  house s t i l l , were a fragment of the past of the woman of the beach. By her hair — "mes cheveux noirs teints en noir" (L'A., p.83) — we associate her with Tatiana Karl, Lol's childhood friend.  The house i s on the h i l l  dominating the beach, and the yard, in contrast to the carefully tended garden belonging to the Loi of Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein, i s in a state of unruly abandon: La maison est un rectangle gris aux volets blancs. Elle domine l a plage, l a masse de l a digue, l a v i l l e empoisonnee. Le jardin est en friche, 1'herbe est tres haute et deborde les murs. La g r i l l e entrouverte invite, f a i t peur. (L!A., p.55) "La g r i l l e " , the iron barrier to keep out, and to keep in, i s present as always, reminding us of the empty tennis courts, the iron fencing around the embassy and the island estate in Le Vice-Consul — a l l potent symbols for the barriers experienced by women when confronting male society, as well as poignant reminders of the emptiness and silence which signal the presence of the feminine in the text.  Here the gate stands open as a  disquieting sign of change, of abandonment, of the order having been upset.  The woman in the house i s now "dead":  an implacable alteration has  occurred, something has changed definitively. Tatiana Karl i s the woman of  -  112  -  the hotel who i s kept by men, chained to her body, to her identity as desired sexual object, perhaps to self-abandonment in her l i f e of adulterous love in hotel rooms. She has sought the "possible", nothing more, nothing less;  whereas the others — Michael Richard in his love for  the fabulous Anne-Marie Stretter, and Loi V. Stein in her obsession to join the couple, sought the "impossible" and therefore wander endlessly in the diffuse desire which i s the undifferentiated passion of love, represented by the limitless beaches of S. Thala: — Je m'en suis tiree. Elle attend encore, elle termine encore la phrase. — La seule de vous tous — elle ajoute — l a seule, l a morte de S. Thala (L'A.. p.84). "La femme", that same eighteen-year-old Loi, remains on the beach, her hands blackened by the fires of S. Thala, in a reversed world of memory, an underworld to which she seems to have been drawn (like Persephone by Hades) from the f i e l d while gathering the beautiful narcissus flower.  Like Inanna she hangs to rot In the desert underworld: II n'est plus l a . Elle est seule allongee sur l a sable au soleil, pourrissante, chien mort de l'idee, sa main est restee enterree pres du sac blanc (L'A., p.125).  The only thing she carries in that "petit sac de jeune f i l l e " i s a mirror: Ils marchent. Elle retourne a. regarder le sol. Elle est en blanc, coiffee. II l'a preparee, dans l ' f l e ce matin, i l l ' a lavee, coiffee. Elle porte un petit sac de jeune f i l l e , egalement blanc, le sac blanc du voyage a S. Thala. Elle le prend et l'ouvre. Elle en sort une glace. Elle s'arrete, se regarde, repart. Elle l u i tend l a glace, elle l a l u i montre.  -  113  -  — II m'a donne ca avant de partir. Elle ouvre de nouveau le sac. Elle y remplace l a glace. II regarde: le sac est vide, i l ne contient que l a glace. Elle le ferme, elle dit: — Un bal. — Oui — i l hesite — vous etiez, a ce moment-la, supposee aimer. (L'A., pp.112-3) The mirror i s a particularly potent symbol in the world of the Durassian text.  Here the mirror seems to be guarding the reflection of  Loi, half buried in the sand (time), as though ready to disappear. "Keeping a mirror", writes Nor Hall, " i s a precautionary measure to be 30 taken whenever there might be fear of losing oneself to the other side." The mirror was given to her by "le fou", whose slow, rythmic pace provides a kinetic structure for the flow of fragments and images forming the tenuous world of the text. own past —  Loi i s an important link leading to the writer's  an essential stage in an important •transformation of perspec-  tive.  In order to go forward i t has been necessary to take a long journey  back:  "Bending back far enough to get a sense of one's own prehistory",  writes Nor Hall, " i s the f i r s t step in the process of conscious evolution."  31  The wandering of Loi in the desert of S. Thala continues in La Femme du Gange. Here, experimentation with the sound/image relationship in film creates a new dimension in the text, which i s that of the "voices". It i s this new dimension which allows the myth to evolve, preparing the way for a transformation into the writing voice of Aurelia Steiner.  -  114 -  La Femme du Gange: The Myth Evolves. When Loi tries to join the couple by calling out "qu'elle voulait les suivre pour continuer a les voir" (F.du G., p.183), she i s also expressing a fundamental urge which Marguerite Duras transposes into broader cultural terms in the following passage from Les Parleuses: M.D. — Tu crois que ce mouvement qu'elle avait de se fondre aux amants, de rejoindre les amants et auquel on a oppose un refus, est le meme mouvement que toute femme a en elle de rejoindre... tous et a qui on oppose un refus, de rejoindre tous, de rejoindre le groupe, l'humanite (Les Parleuses, p. 159).Woman's alienation seems to reside in the unhappy fact that her difference from man has been devalued in male culture;  she has had to take, as Simone  de Beauvoir wrote so long ago, her assigned role as "the second sex". Luce Irigary expresses i t in the following way in Ce sexe qui n'en est pas  un: Le desir de l a femme ne parlerait pas l a meme langue que celui de l'homme, et i l aurait ete recouvert par l a logique qui domine 1'Occident depuis les Grecs. Dans cette logique, l a prevalence du regard et de l a discrimination de l a forme est particulierement etrangere a l'erotisme feminin. La femme jouit plus de toucher que du regard, et son entree dans une economie scopique dominante signifie, encore, une assignation pour elle a. l a passivite: elle sera le bei objet a. regarder.32 The world within the Durassian text, representing woman's enslave-  ment and incarceration by "le regard masculin", her captivity within the confined space of her own image (or her own annihilation, as in the fantasy/obsession of Loi), i s in a more advanced state of deterioration in La Femme du Gange:  -  115 -  M.D. — Je vois l a realite minee. Alors i l y a aussi, dans le film, une sorte de retour a des elements comme ceux de la nature, le sable, l a mer, c'est jamais des rues, vous avez remarque. G'est des gens... des maisons, mais vides, comme apres, des hotels, mais desaffectes... (Les Parleuses, p.63) M.D. — mes films  G'est un monde en ruine, dans (Les Parleuses, p.64),  The "India Song" texts have entered the world of film.  The possi-  b i l i t y of the separation of image from sound — the core of the author's experiment in language — can now attain i t s f u l l potential.  As one film  c r i t i c has perceptively commented: Duras proceeds with her most visually austere film, a film of static shots and seemingly overdue cuts, with l i t t l e fluidity or continuity between shots, except in their long duration or in their repetition. In this way, she forces the spectator to "look" to the voices.33 What she has done i s "reversed", once more, the normal "image-sound relationship, whereby we always look to the visuals and 'trust' them, while not always hearing or saving the sound, even deliberately losing the 34  sound, mistrusting the sound." Though s t i l l constantly present, "le regard" i s now rendered even more passive, and separate from the world of meaning, than i t was in L'Amour. While in the latter the madness of Loi was s t i l l alive, her obsession "de les voir" attached to her, and to her somnambulic wanderings on the beach, in the present text/film, she i s mute and totally passives Assise sur une marche, contre un mur, une idiote regarde tout autour d'elle avec une egale attention: l a jeune f i l l e de S. Thala. Dite L.V.S. N'a pas suivi — la-bas — les amants du bal. Son regard a l a douceur angelique de l a demence.  -  116  -  Gouffre nu, pur de toute memoire. Sur le visage, plaquees, les voix informent: Voix I I c i , i l n'etait jamais revenue? Voix 2 Jamais. Voix I II avait suivi 1'autre femme aux Indes? Voix 2 Oui. Apres sa mort i l est parti des Indes. II s'est marie. II a eu des enfants. (F.du G., p.126) "Voices" have now appeared separate from the story held in the images on the screen where Loi passively sits, a mute phantom. The only characters seen and heard are " l a femme" (this time perhaps Anne-Marie Stretter or Tatiana Karl), "le voyageur" (the same Michael Richardson), "le fou", the man in the casino, and an anonymous young man.  Their con-  versations are static, truncated, often containing only meaningless "echoes", always of the same story, which i s essentially the story of the end of an end-of-summer ball, which may be allegory for the end of a certain period in the l i f e of the author.  A stronger allegorical reference  would be to the end of a certain culture, to the imprisonment of women by "le regard": La femme. Elle est dans un endroit indetermine. On voit son visage de tres pres. Elle pleure. Son visage aux yeux morts est dechire par l a douleur intolerable qui sort par vannes du bal mort de S, Thala. Elle est au rendez-vous des amants, des premiers amants de S. Thala.  -  117 -  Son visage detruit, c'est l a plaie toujours ouverte du desir. Voix I, peur. Ou etes-vous? Voix 2, tendresse. Je suis l a . Pres de vous. Silence. Voix I Je n'entends plus le bruit de l a mer... Voix 2 Qu'entendez-vous? Voix I Le bruit d'un bal, MORT. Silence. (F.duG., p. 162) Love stories in the traditional sense are finished, these texts are saying. the paradigms  The story of Loi V. Stein and the couple i s a reversal of Loi does not suffer in the usual sense of the third ex-  cluded - "Pas de souffrance... (F.duG., p. 139)-  Aucun signe de souffrance..."  Instead, she follows her own fantasy, reflecting a  pattern of ancient feminine initiation, leading through madness and death to transformation — f i r s t into the "voices" of La Femme du Gange and India Song, and then into the writing voice of Aurelia Steiner. Neither do the couple live "happily ever after".  They follow, instead, a  path which leads toward the author's past in a foreign southern land, joining there the universal feminine in the suffering and madness of the "mendiante", and death, symbolized by Anne-Marie Stretter and her suicide  -  in " l a mer  118  -  indienne": M.D. — Tu ne crois pas que c'est le monde de 1'exasperation rolle de- 1' amour qui est firii? A mon avis c'est f i n i . (Les Parleuses, p.l40)  Surrounding this "finished" world, in ruins, are the signs of absence, of abandonment, of emptiness and of silence —  signs we have come  to recognize as the formless, and as yet unexplored, terrain of the feminine: Cette espece d'obscurite dans laquelle etait plongee l a femme, je pense que c'etait ce role d'aimer. Prodiguer 1'amour l u i etait assigne depuis des millenaires et du f a i t qu'elle prodiguait 1'amour on l a voyait dans 1'obscurite. Elle ne pouvait pas transgresser cela, elle se tenait coite dans cette obscurite. Ce stage gigantesque dans 1'amour a f a i t l a richesse de l a femme, richesse insondable. Pascal procede deja d'une certaine androgynie. Cette obscurite pascalienne est, a mon avis, une obscurite de nature feminine. II en est sorti des fulgurances qui n'ont jamais ete depassees en intensite et en violence. Ce role d*amour, qui a ete le malheur de l a femme, c * est maintenant son terrain de depart. Autour de l a femme i l y a ce terrain feconde, immense. 35 No longer hiding in concrete symbols (for example, the empty tennis courts of Detruire,dit-elle), nor merely surrounding the physical as an unseen disrupting force, the emptiness i s now taking on actual "presence", in the same way that we began looking to the bodiless voices for meaning: L'endroit est redevenu vide comme avant l'arrivee du Voyageur. Ce vide, facteur de liaison, restera l a charniere selon laquelle, sans cesse, s'articulera le film. (l^du G., p.113) Nous avons penetre dans le lieu vide de 1'amour. (F.du G., p.124) Quelqu'un i c i a voulu fuir, suivre, a  -  119  -  renverse tout dans sa fuite. Entre le paravent japonais et l a table, l a place vide de l a jeune f i l l e de S. Thala, statufiee. (F.du G., p.140) The limitless obscurity of the feminine begins to take form. This is done by subverting the usual power of "le regard" and transforming the passivity of "1'ecoute", rendering i t a sort of composite of a l l the senses, thus revealing the substance of matter rather than merely i t s outward form, the territory of the "look".  It i s the "voices" which now re-  veal l i f e in their attachment to the sounds, odours, and movements of the moment, as though redeeming i t from the now dead images on the screen: Les trois regards ne suivent plus. I l s s'arretent sur le point de disparition du Voyageur. Restent la, fixes. Espace des sables qui contient 1'accident. L.V.S. assise contre une barriere pres du perron de L'hotel, les yeux au sol. Arret sur cet endroit banal. Lent emergement de l a Femme et du Fou vers 1'espace cerne. I l s se rapprochent de 1'hotel. Les voix parlent d'eux: VOIX 2 Ils ont perdu l a memoire? VOIX I Oui. Leur memoire est maintenant dehors. VOIX 2 Des cendres...  m  Temps. VOIX I Oui. Cette odeur de feu dans S. Thala le soir...? VOIX 2 Oui...  Silence. <tjF. du G., pp. 110-11)  -  120 -  The absence of usual significance i s striking.  Paralleling this  reduction in readily grasped meaning i s an augmentation in "folie", madness.  The characters roam freely in a confined space, detached from- even  the memory of the situation which originally intertwined their destinies. "Le Fou" of L'Amour has multiplied into a community, with the characteri s t i c s of " l a femme" of L'Amour now projected, exteriorized into the characteristics of "les fous".  Her blackened hands, associated with "les  incendies interminables" of L'Amour, appear now as part of them: LE VOYAGEUR Vos mains sont noires. Les fous regardent leurs propres mains, voient qu'elles sont noires. I l s ne le savaient pas. Les fous ne savent pas etre des incendiaires: c'est leur presence qui est incendiaire, leur existence qui "met le feu" a ce dont s *approche. LA FEMME C'est l'incendie. LE FOU, en echo. ...l'incendie... LE VOYAGEUR, temps. On vous cherche. LA FEMME Oui. LE FOU, en echo. ...oui... LE VOYAGEUR On va vous tuer. LA FEMME Nous ne pouvons pas mourir. LE FOU, echo. ...on peut pas...  (F.du G., p.175)  -  121  -  Their "echoing", often exact repetition of conversations from L'Amour, brings to mind, once again, the myth of Narcissus and Echo, and of the plight of the feminine in the patriarchate. But now they exist only as shadows in a dead world.  The growing madness, a sign of the growing  subversion of the world of hierarchies and the powerful unidimensional "look", i s sealing, within the text, the doom of writing and reading as we have known them. From a semantic point of view: Dans 1'entremelement des pulsions au language, le risque schizophrenique marque i c i les limites du texte. Mutisme ou tournant en rond, le resultat est le meme: i l y a annihilation et simulation de toute s i g n i f i cance et de toute signifiance possible. Autrement dit, l a folie signe l a mort du texte. 36 Something different i s beginning to occur with the presence of the "voices", however, for their repetitions are not the sterile repetitions of Echo;  on the contrary, their appearance has opened up a v i t a l new  dimension. The transformation process at the base of the "India Song" texts becomes more readily accessible since the voices are at once "new", in the present, yet somehow, at a very deep level, connected to the story held captive i n the ruined world of the images. Returning to the myth of Inanna w i l l help elucidate the sublety of this relationship. When Inanna does not return after three days from the desert home of her dark sister, her faithful servant initiates measures to secure her 37 rescue.  It i s Enki, "the wily water and wisdom god"  whose "energy 38  flows with and breaks up the rigidity of the underworld,"  who comes to  her aid. Rather than abiding by the precedents and laws, he initiates a new process and he does so by resorting to what was hitherto ignored: moves with f e e l i n g . " ^  he  From the dirt under his fingernail, he fashions  -  122 -  two mourners who manage to slip into the underworld unnoticed.  They are  "sexless devotees, perhaps hermaphroditic or androgynous, polymorphous creatures, (...) thus they do not embody consciousness as discrimination based on cutting apart, separation, and standing adversary, but conscious39 ness as empathy and mirroring. Listening to the "voices", we experience their deep sharing in the grief and passion of the "story" buried in the now almost ghost-like and static figures i n the deserted places before us, and before them, on the screens VOIX I, plainte douce. Quel desert autour de nous certains jours... Cet hotel est s i grand... Nous sommes seules... (F.du G., p.116) VOIX 2 N'y pensez plus... Venez pres de moi...  Silence.  VOIX I, douleur. douleur. Quel amour c'etait. Quel desir... Impossible... Terrible... Silence. (F.du G., p.127) Enki's mourners are "humble creatures" who "affirm Ereshkigal i n her suffering.., theirs i s a created capacity. They see and feel, and 39 they groan with."  When Ereshkigal moans "Woe, oh my inside", they echo 40.  her with empathy, and similarly when she moans "Woe, oh my outside." "Their echoing makes a litany, transforms the pain into poetry and prayer. It makes out of l i f e ' s dark misery a song of the goddess.  It establishes  art as a reverent and creative and sympathetic response to the passions  - 123 the pains of l i f e . "  -  A comparable role i s played by the Durassian "voices",  for they become manifestation, the incarnation of the desire now released from the original "story", fragmented and scattered among the ruins where the now nameless and "dead" characters wander mindlessly. As the sentences break up, adjectives and pronouns f a l l i n g away, the discourse reveals a world of emotion. Like the movement "with feeling" of the watery wisdom god, Enki, this language becomes personified in the two female voices.  One of them i s "epouvantee" at the love story contained in  the remnants before her on the screen, while the second i s consumed by the desire she now feels for the f i r s t : VOIX 2 Vous etes s i jeune et je vous aime tant.,. Pas de reponse. VOIX 2,  suppliante.  Je vous aime plus que tout au monde. Arret. La voix n. 2 a demande que l'on vive. Pas de reponse. Silence. La voix n. I se f a i t tres lente, tres basse, elle est extenuee. VOIX I Si je vous le demandais, accepteriez-vous de me tuer? La reponse a, l a demande de mise a mort est lente a venir. Elle vient. Elle est affirmative. Elle temoigne du desir entier, mortel qui, de meme, l i a i t les heros du bal de S. Thala. VOIX 2 Oui.  (F.du G., p.182)  -  124 -  Like a d i s t i l l a t i o n of the female voices preceding them, these "voices" resonate with the cries, the anguish, the chanting, the laughter, the fear, the anger, and finally the silence defining the unfolding feminine universes VOIX I Quelqu'un crie.  Loin.  VOIX 2 Ou? VOIX I Vers le GANGE... VOIX 2 Une femme...? VOIX I Oui... Elle marche... Dans l a chaleur de l a mousson, elle va... elle marche... VOIX 2 Que crie-t-elle? VOIX I DES MOTS SANS SUITE... ELLE RIT... Silence. (F.du G., p.159) According to Sylvia Perera, the "inside" and "outside" referred to in Ereshkigal's moaning, and mirrored in empathy by Enki's mourners, i s "a border region that i s one of the earliest parameters of awareness in 42 ' childhood." It i s in this region in "symbiotic bond" that the mother ' < feels her child's needs as her own and vice-versa. This f i e l d of "participation mystique" i s so f l u i d that "there i s often no clear sense of  -  125  -  objectivity and difference between the psychic boundaries of two persons. Rather there i s a sense of union and intimacy that can be tuned into with 43 subtle intuitive and kinesthetic perceptions." The Durassian "voices" exist in just such a "border region" where identities mix, transforming one into the other, merging, then separating again in different ways. For instance, "L.V.S." of La Femme du Gange, i s no longer " l a femme" of L'Amour whom we associated with Loi V. Stein of Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein;  instead of giving birth to  those children behind " l a digue", she has become again like a child herself i M.D. — Done ce n'est pas l a femme de L'Amour, pas tout a, f a i t . — Je pense que 5a a ete remplace: elle a enfante les voix. Je crois que l'une des voix, c'est elle (Les Parleuses, p.69). This i s further substantiated in the text since "Voix I" i s also eighteen years olds VOIX 2 Quel age avez-vous? VOIX I Dix-huit ans. Silence.  (F.du G., p.155) In a related transformation or "giving birth to", the child born to the woman in L'Amour has also been replaced by the "voices' ! 1  M.D. — L'enfant c r i a i t a l'interieur, voyez, i l habitait aussi le lieu, de l'interieur. Je pense qu'il a ete remplace par les voix. (Les Parleuses, p.68)  -  126 -  "To flow into awaxeness of the border", writes Perera, " i s to begin to find one's own separate ground of being", and "often when we experience 44  the border i t i s with a consciousness born of suffering and loss."  The  process which began with Moderato Cantabile, propelling the writer and the writing deeper within, toward the foreign land of her childhood and her mother's suffering, attains a point of "no return" in the text/films of La Femme du Gange, India Song, and Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta desert.  Marguerite Duras reveals to us the importance of the region  opened up with the discovery of the voices in the f i r s t of these three films: J'ai 1'impression quelquefois que j ' a i commence a ecrire avec ga, avec Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein, avec L'Amour et La Femme du Gange. Mais que 1'ecriture, 1'amplitude de 1'ecriture a ete atteinte avec le film, que Loi V. Stein, c'etait un moment de l'ecrit, L'Amour aussi, mais qu'avec La Femme du Gauge tout a ete melange, comme s i j'avais remonte le temps, que j'etais arrivee dans ce perimetre d'avant les livres. J'etais f o l l e quand j'ai monte La Femme du Gange. Quand j ' a i trouve les voix de La Femme du Gange, j'etais folle d'angoisse. Mais c'est un lieu de l'angoisse i c i , c'est peut-etre mon. lieu. (Les Lieux., p.90) The figures of the passive "dead" women on the beach, of "le desert de S. Thala", can be related to the active upper world goddess, Inanna, hanging to rot in the desert of her bereft and suffering dark sister. They are two parts to be put back together into a renewed whole. Like Enki's mourners who begin the reversal by finding the right attitude through their sympathetic mirroring of Ereshkigal's moaning, the Durassian "voices" create poetry and song with their commiseration  in the pain  -  of the end-of-summer ball.  127  -  Through this creation of song, the mourners  of the myth arouse the generosity of the dark sister, thus regaining their queen Inanna, who then returns to her upper world realm.  Similarly, the  newness, the poignant emotion of the "voices", already having assimilated the "dead" Loi, contain the seed of the complete transformation which w i l l be into the writing voice of Aurelia Steiner.  No longer w i l l the essence  of writing be in the written word which creates distance, becoming narrative and formula;  rather, the essential goal i s to communicate feeling more  directly through sound, thus subverting the usual power of the "look" so connected as i t has become, through metaphor, to the intellect —  "see  clearly", "see the light", "illuminate", etc. The distance permitting this process of "intellectualization" has been removed and the reader experiences the Durassian world through the closer "feminine" bodily senses of sound, touch, smell and sensation, evoked by an imagistic language.  This move-  ment away from incarceration in "le regard" began with Lol's rejection of her name. At the end of the section in Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein dealing with Lol's illness and her rejection of her name, there appears an enigmatic phrase: de Dieu" (p.5l).  "Puis un jour ce corps infirme remue dans le ventre  The motif of "Dieu" continues throughout the "India  Song" texts, always in relationship to the anger and the rejection manifested by Loi: VOIX 2 Vous ne mangez plus... vous dormez mal... VOIX I C'est l a colere.  -  128 -  VOIX 2 Contre qui? VOIX I Dieu.  Dieu en general. Silence. VOIX 2  Que je vous aime... que je vous desire, ... Silence. (F.duG., p. 153) There are two lines, earlier i n this section of Le Ravissement., each which provide another indication as to how this motif i s functioning within the text.  Firsts  pages laters  "Elle n'est pas Dieu, elle n'est personne"(p.47), then, two "Mais Loi n'est encore ni Dieu, n i personne" (p.49). Play-  ing "God" — the omnipotent, omnipresent third person narrator, has been the role of the writing persona traditionally assumed by the novelist. A reversal of this all-controlling omnipotence i s conveyed by the concept that here the writing i s by "personne", that "Ecrire c'est n'etre per45  sonne." Steiner.  This reversal gives rise to the writing voice of Aurelia The origin of the writing voice i s experienced as a nameless  source, the place where our voice joins the voices of others, and where myth i s generated. Nor Hall describes this place i n the following way: Putting the events of the extraordinary experience together i n a meaningful way makes a muthos, a myth — not a made-up story but l i t e r a l l y a "mouthing", a telling of p r i mary experience using the f i r s t words of coming to consciousness.^ What we experience i n the Durassian text i s a breaking down of the accepted myths of womanhood which have grown out of the patriarchal  -  129 -  culture (mother, wife, lover, adultress, whore), and their replacement by the  emergence of myths which are far more rudimentary and connected in  some way.to a feminine "source". This feminine source i s in fact the psyche of Marguerite Duras, who has uncovered her own process of becoming — as woman, as writer — i n these texts which can be read as self-portraiture.  It i s here that we come to experience woman as a continuum, as  a perpetual becoming through the cycle of giving birth.  Organically  connected to the child, she continues through its l i f e , and by this experience gains intimate knowledge of the "border region" where the experience of self and not-self, merging and separation i s born: Feminine receptive consciousness does not experience the border as a tidy boundary separating what i s sensed as "me" from what is sensed as "not me".' The border i s not a fixed barrier demarcating a clear sense of individual identity i n opposition to the other, who i s f e l t to be the object of heroic action. Rather the border i s permeable, easily penetrated by emphatic sensing of the other, a capacity to feel with and to share the other's emotional presence. 7  The masculine dominated universe of "le regard", here reflected in.the visual images of a world in ruins, i s disintegrating, as though, like Narcissus, the world of form i s rejoining the unformed matter of the earth — the sea, the sand, and the sounds emanating from the flow of life.  What continues now are the "voices", these fragile female andro-  gynous-like explorative yearnings emitting so much emotion.  The desire  of voice 2 for example, i s unable to save "la voix brulee", voice I, from being consumed by the intolerably painful love story s t i l l contained i n the  dying images on the screen:  -  130 . -  Le desir exprime par l a voix brulee (n.l) est le seul moment de jonction entre le film de 1'image et le film des voix. Le film de 1'image touche i c i le film des voix. Cela dure le temps d'une phrase. Mais ce contact •provoque l a mort. Le film des voix est egalement tue^ (?_»du i P-183) Loi, the s a c r i f i c i a l virgin (she i s always in white — femininity in the active upper world i s pulled into the underworld of death) has not yet been ransomed by the "voices", like Inanna by Enki's mourners.  We  remain in that world i n ruins for which the voices now evince such devastating compassion. We sense the narrative contained in the images to be turning in circles like Narcissus, obsessed by his own image; yet we are also acutely aware of the empty center, the silence in which significance i s now contained.  Madness as a positive force has come into being. Loi,  symbol of "absence", of "rien", i s also " l a folle";  in this madness, the  refusal of a certain order of things, i s the seed of positive change. It is this death to a certain order of things that "les fous" of La Femme du Gange symbolizes Cette passivite, cette immense force des fous de S. Thala, ce refus organique, s i tu veux, i l ne peut s'exercer que dans l a vie. II se tue a un certain ordre de choses, i l meurt a un certain ordre de choses, a ce qui est propose. Mais moi aussi je suis morte a cet ordre de choses. Toi aussi. Dans notre milieu, on ne voit que des gens qui sont morts... au reste. (Les Parleuses, p.123) Death i s at the center — it.  there can be no transformation without  It i s not surprising that the self-portrait centers around 48  Song. a film "sur l a f i n du monde" dressed in black, at i t s centre.  India  , with Anne-Marie Stretter, always  -  131  -  India Song: The End of a World. In the world of India Song we are immersed in the fascination of the writer for Anne-Marie Stretter, the archetypal feminine:  Ce qui est  mis en scene, c'est ma fascination, 1'amour que j'ai d'elle.  Je me demande  s i l'amour que j'ai d'elle n'a pas toujours existe" (Les Lieux., p.65). When we are fascinated, we are held captive by our own emotional attachment to that entity outside of ourselves containing our desire (or to ourselves projected into the world as in the case of a Narcissus cognisant of his own image):  "Elle est plus mon desir que ce que je croyais etre  mon desir, elle repond plus que je ne questionne, s i vous voulez.. Parce qu'elle repond completement" (Les Lieux., p.24).  It i s this fascination,  and the passion surrounding i t , woven constantly with the mythos of death, which creates the essence of the Durassian text-tissue: VOIX 2 Elle etait arrivee tard a ce bal... au milieu de l a nuit... VOIX I Oui... habillee de noir... Que d'amour... Que de desir... Silence.  (I.S., pp.15-6) The presence of the "voices", startlingly fresh in their attachment to the here and now,  contrasts with the "dead" images before the camera,  caught, as i t were, in a voyeuristic complicity of which they are unaware. A large mirror dominating the set during the embassy "ball" scene, reveals Anne-Marie Stretter attended by her admirers.  Their glances are con-  stantly doubled in the mirror, beside the distant ethereal contemplation of  the heroine.  132 -  At one point, while dancing with the young attache, her  reflection appears next to that of the onlooking Michael Richardson.*  We  are witnessing a voyeurism of which the others seem unaware. Their passivity implies that they exist as shadows in a dead world: Ge n'est pas seulement l a mort de l'histoire qui est ecrite dans India Song, qui est dite dans India Song. C'est l a mort de notre histoire. (Les Parleuses, p.77) Obscured by the incense (which f i l l s the theatre according to the stage play directions), and by the haze of the hot humid air of the summer monsoon, they sink into a past as though carried off by the harmony of the music. The mirror dominating the set accentuates the dream-like quality of the scene before us in which the images appear to be detached from "reality"'.  "Glass", writes James Hillman, " i s the metaphor par excellence  for psychic reality:  i t i s itself not visible, appearing only to be i t s  contents, and the contents of the psyche, by being placed within or behind glass, have been removed from palpable reality to metaphorical reality, 49 out of l i f e and into image,"  Visually we move about in a world of pure  image, where the "voices" continue to mirror in sound the passion released from the now dead narrative:  a love story, which like an outgrown con-  sciousness, i s finished: VOIX I Elle n'a jamais gueri l a jeune f i l l e de S. Thala? VOIX 2 Jamais.  *The "Richard" of Le Vice-Consul has become once again the "Richardson" of Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein.  - 133 voix I l i s ne l'ont pas entendue crier? VOIX 2 Non. N'entendaient plus rien. Ne voyaient plus rien. Temps. VOIX I L'ont abandonnee? (Temps.) Tuee? VOIX I 0 u i  "  Temps. (I.S., p.37)  These "voices", however, do not become consumed by the passion for which they are feeling such compassion, as did the voices in La Femme du Gange. Instead they have strengthened by increasing their numbers, having become two sets of voices:  females and males, a potentially androgynous  whole. The dialogue on the screen in La Femme du Gange has also disappeared and we now hear only detached rumours of conversations, recounted separately from the images on the screen:  "Aucun mot prononce sur scene"  (!•§.•» p.58). The reversal of the world dominated by the "vouloir/pouvoir" of "le regard" i s complete:  the visual images are condemned to  passive silence, and the "voices" exist in a v i t a l world, separate from the world contained in the visual images, and to which we now "look" for meaning. Since the visual world i s now "unreal", we await the presence of the "voices" for tangible contact with the present world.  In the visual  images we exist in a world totally merged with a dead past — "Je pense qu'on est l a dans l a f i n du monde" (Les Lieux.. p.77); and in the "voices" we exist in a world almost painfully new, breathing the rawness of dis-  -  covery.  134 -  Yet i t i s the same passion which, having destroyed the former,  now nourishes the latter.  In the words of the author at the end of the  text: L'histoire est une histoire d'amour immobilisee dans l a culminance de l a passion. Autour d'elle, une autre histoire, celle de 1'horreur — famine et lepre melees dans l'humidite pestilentielle de l a mousson — immobilisee elle aussi dans un paroxysme quotidien. La femme, Anne-Marie Stretter, femme d'un ambassadeur de France aux Indes, maintenant morte — sa tombe est au cimetiere anglais de Calcutta — , est comme nee de cette horreur. Elle se tient au milieu d'elle avec une grace ou. tout s'abime, dans un inepuisable silence. Grace que les VOIX essaient precisement de revoir, poreuse, dangereuse, et dangereuse aussi pour certaines des VOIX- (I.S., p.148). Gradually the visual images on the screen before us are blended into the torpidity of the landscape as a fatal harmonization i s conjured up by the music, causing a movement back, towards the chant of the beggar woman, and towards childhood. "J'ecoute India Song", says the vice-consul, (Temps) "Je suis venu aux Indes a cause d'India Song" (I.S., p.?6). The song i s associated with his mother who would play to him when he was young. Anne-Marie Stretter had been an accomplished pianist in her youth as Anna-Maria Guardi (I.S., p.4l) in Venice. A grand piano sits near centre stage in two of the principle scenes.  On top of the piano i s a  photograph of Anne-Marie Stretter as a young woman: J. attache": Vous faites de l a musique? A. - M.S.: Parfois. quelques annees...  (Temps.) Moins depuis  J. attache (douceur, de 1'amour deja): Pourquoi?  -  135 -  A. -M.S. (lent): exprimer... J. attache:  C'est d i f f i c i l e a Temps long.  Dites-le-moi.  A. -M.S.: Une certaine douleur... s' attache a. l a musique... depuis quelque temps,.. pour moi... Pas de reponse. Silence. (I.S., p.85) The mother in Un Barrage contre le Pacifique also played the piano. It was by playing the piano for silent movie matinees, and by giving p r i vate lessons, that she earned the necessary money to buy the piece of land which was to prove her ruin;  (also recounted later in 1977 in a play  version entitled L'Eden Cinema).^  0  The music pulls us back toward woman,  mother, childhood and myth, into a mysterious unknown blackness where the visual i s no longer present: La l 4 Variation de Beethoven sur un theme de Diabelli. Loin. e  NOIR COMPLET Puis, au-dela du jardin, dans le ciel, lueurs, soit du jour, soit d'un feu — d'un feu couleur de rouille. Voix lente — calme enonce. VOIX I Ces lueurs... La? VOIX 2 Les  crematoires. VOIX I  On brule les morts de l a faim? VOIX 2 Oui. Le jour vient. Silence.  - 136 La 14 Variation jusqu'a l a f i n sur l a lueur des crematoires. m J E  -  (I.S., PP.52-3)  There are two other associations with burning bodies that come to mind immediately i n the context of Marguerite Duras' writing, and i n the context, of our culture:  the Jews burned during the holocaust, and the  startling phenomenon of the burning of witches from the middle ages on. These histories s t i l l exist semi-obscured by blackness.  Blackness becomes  synonymous with depth, and the further back and within we go the more unsure the terrain becomes and the closer our own stories touch the stories of our culture;  i t i s here that language searches for i t s mythopoetic  roots: Anterior comes before in time. Interior comes from within, If the two are drawn together they form a vast terrain inviting exploration: i t i s as i f your psyche were an unfathomably deep, many-caverned lake. Beneath i t s mirrored surface the water extends infinitely downward. We would see ourselves i n the surface ripple, the history of a l l l i f e i n i t s dark depths.5l Here we move about guided by the near senses, and by emotions, sensations, and inner connections.  This feminine kinesthetic universe i s  described by Duras as a place of "passion": "... le cinema que je fais, je l e fais au meme endroit que mes livres. C'est ce que j'appelle 1'endroit de l a passion. La. ou on est sourd et aveugle. Enfin, j'essaie d'etre l a le plus qu'il est possible." (Les Lieux., p.9*0 In comparison to Christ's passion which was his suffering on the cross for the sins of a l l mankind, female suffering i s within a very personal  -  137  -  realm, as in Geshtinanna*s sacrifice for her brother in the Inanna myth. It i s a suffering involving a descent to the underworld which takes the form of real depressions.  Marguerite Duras' descents have often involved  alcohol, and i t i s as an attempt at facing the fear of having to live without alcohol (perhaps a way of trying to escape the descents) that she f i r s t engaged in the spontaneous writing, beginning with Moderato Gantabile. In other words, whereas her writing had been "un labeur quotidien... dans 1'alienation totale, dictee", i t became a movement into her own fear and into her self: Et puis, apres mai '68, avec Detruire, alors c'etait plus du tout §a; c'est-a-dire que le livre s'ecrivait en quelques jours et c'est l a premiere fois que j'ai aborde l a peur avec cela. Si, enfin, ca avait commence avec Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein. La, i l y a une periode, je sortais d'une disintoxication alcoolique, alors, je ne sais pas s i cette peur — j'y a i pense souvent, je n'ai jamais reussi a elucider ca — , cette peur que j'ai connue en l'ecrivant n'etait pas aussi 1*autre peur de se retrouver sans alcool; s i ce n'etait pas une sequelle de l a disintoxication, je ne sais pas. (Les Parleuses, p.l4) In India Song, the "fear" appears attached to the voices, and always in relationship to the potent signs of the feminine, in liaison with death, silence, emptiness —  the underworld desert of Inanna's dark  sister into which the story contained in the images has descended: DES GRILLAGES: DE TENNIS SORTENT DU NOIR. CONTRE LE GRILLAGE, UNE BIGYGLETTE DE FEMME — DE GOULEUR ROUGE. C'EST DESERT.! Les voix reconnaissent ces choses qui les effraient: VOIX I (sourde exclamation de peur) Les tennis deserts...  -  138 -  VOIX 2 (id.) ... La bicyclette rouge d'Anne-Marie Stretter... Silence.  (I.S., pp.26-?) Anne-Marie Stretter, "le modele parental pour moi, le modele maternal, ou plutot le modele feminin" (Les Lieux., p.65) joins the "mendiante", as in Le Vice-Consul, through the metonymical juxtapositioning of images which are visual, auditory, olfactory, and tactile;  the result i s an almost  alchemical mixing of the basic elements making up language at the dream or archetypal level where the text performs i t s mysterious logic.  In semantic  terms s A travers ce mouvement d*aller-retour d'une oeuvre a 1'autre, dans cette mise en relief des constants et les variations qu'offre chacun des textes, l a lecture intertextuelle f i n i t par imposer un texte, le "texte", creuset de tous les autres, precipite, depot (au sens chimique du terme), laissant affleurer le lieu meme de l'inconscient. Comme s i le langage, d'un recit a 1'autre, de fagon ponctuelle, etait traverse, fissure par des marques anciennes: frayages, traces, stases d'inscription anterieures, d'un autre texte, premier, originaire.52 The text opens a path leading back and in, as though searching constantly for the mythical place of origin.  Norman 0. Brown's definition of happi-  ness indicates why the search, to be f r u i t f u l , must lead in this direction: Happiness i s the deferred fulfillment of a pre-historic wish. That i s why wealth brings so l i t t l e happiness; money i s not an infantile  wish.53  As we recall, both Anne-Marie Stretter and " l a mendiante" have come from "Savannakhet" ("ca va a quite"). In the second to last act, Act IV, Anne-Marie Stretter and her admirers have arrived on the islands at the  - 139 "Prince of Wales" hotel.  The "mendiante" has followed and i s seen lurking  by the others. The sea has been attained, "la mer/mire", the center around which the self-portrait revolves.  I t i s here that Anne-Marie Stretter  drowns herself, and that the "mendiante" i s last seen laughing in the obl i v i o n of youth, in which her sterility and madness have left her: ... i l y avait chez les jeunes f i l l e s que j'ai connues la-bas — toutes mes amies etait vietnamiennes — , jusqu'a seize ans, une espece de joie, de joie de vivre, tres, tres animale... i c i , jeune f i l l e , c'est un mot degrade, c'est un mot pejoratif. Je me souviens d'une grace, de grace presque collective, tu vois, circulante, de ces jeunes f i l l e s qui etait... faite d'une sorte d'etat de receptivite de l a nature. Elle parlaient peu, elles s'amusaient entre elles, et elles recevaient la pluie, l a chaleur, les fruits qu'elles mangeaient, les bains dans les fleuves, tu vois, une receptivite tres, tres elementaire, apparemment (Les Parleuses, p.l43).In Calcutta the stories of the two heroines are brought to an end like "notre histoire", "la f i n du monde"; the space absorbs them, as they absorb the space:  "Elle devient Calcutta, i l y a un double glissement,  Calcutta va vers l a forme d'Anne-Marie Stretter et elle va vers l a forme de Calcutta.  Et pour moi a l a f i n du film elles ne font qu'un" (Les  Lieux., p.73). The victimization by an unsympathetic, exploitative system is readily grasped in the case of the "mendiante".  Less obvious, however,  is the situation of Anne-Marie Stretter at the opposite end of the social scale:  beautiful, s t i l l in her prime, surrounded by wealth and doting  admirers, pampered by a devoted husband;  her sickness i s described as  •54 "un mal de 1'intelligence".  In the text i t i s hinted that her death  resulted from her intolerance of Calcutta: (I.S., p.42)  "ne supportait pas.  Deja."  Since she becomes one with Calcutta in the end, her tragedy  -  iko  -  may be related to the s t i f l i n g , closed space of the city, which in turn would reflect her intolerance to certain personal inner and outer restrictions.  The following comparison of male and female tragedy elucidates the  situation of the Durassian heroine: The tragic pattern for women, too often unrecognized, i s the reverse (of the male). Tragedy, for many women characters, springs from the fact that consciousness must outpace the possibilities of action; that perception must pace within an iron cage.55 Again we experience the fabulous richness of depth which i s woman's terrain, combined with the reduced terrain of action which has been hers in the masculine-dominated visual world.  The contrasting richness and  poverty of the Durassian text i s rooted in this contradiction. The mission of the text i s an exploration in language leading to an exteriorizing of the untapped inner feminine resources.  The expression in image of this  new territory i s what i s being referred to as the "female voice".  It i s  the "voices" in the dimension of "l'ecoute" who open up these vast reaches: Les voix d'hommes se melent aux voix de femmes. VOIX 3 Ges lueurs. VOIX 4 Le jour. La premiere enceinte est celle de l a lepre et des chiens. I l s sont au bord du Gange, sous les arbres. Sans plus de force. Indolores. VOIX 3 Les morts de faim? VOIX 4 Plus loin dans l a densite du Nord: C'est l a derniere enceinte. Temps.  -  141 -  VOIX 4 Le jour. Le s o l e i l . Temps. VOIX 3 Quelle lumiere.  Terrible. Silence.  VOIX I Quelle lumiere.  D'exil.  VOIX 2 Elle dort? VOIX I Laquelle? VOIX 2 La Blanche. VOIX I Non. Elle se repose. Silence. (I.S., pp.113-4) In the obscure atmosphere created by heat and burning bodies, the "voices" begin confusing one heroine for the other.  Odours mix in an aura of decay,  as though l i f e were being transformed i n a fundamental way. Then more confusion ensues, as though the process of mixing and blending on a l l levels were infectious.  The male voices, unaware of the presence  of the female  voices, echo the personal dialogue of the latter, but in reference to AnneMarie Stretter.  The above dialogue continues:  VOIX 2 (plainte) Comme vous etes distraite.  Profondement absente. Pas de reponse. Silence.  Michael Richardson tourne lentement l a tete vers Anne-Marie Stretter. II l a regarde.  -  142 -  "Voix 3" suddenly becomes aware of the nearby presence of the two female voices, while "voix 4", the one who has "le moins oublie l'histoire" (p.105) does not perceive their presence at a l l .  Then "voix 3" unknowingly  uses the same adjectives to describe the mood of Anne-Marie Stretter, as "voix 2" used to describe the mood of "voix I": VOIX 3 (effroi) Des voix tout a coup pres de nous...? Vous entendez...? VOIX 4 (temps) Non... VOIX 3 Tres jeunes... de femmes?... VOIX 4 (temps) Je n*entends rien. silence.  (temps) G'est le Silence.  VOIX 4 II l a regarde. VOIX 3 Oui. Elle est distraite. absente.  Profondement Silence.  We are again in the border region of Enki's mourners, where to "experience the flow of sensed identity across and unbounded i s to be nurtured in archaic consciousness."^  "To flow into awareness of the  border", writes Perera, " i s to begin to find one's own separate ground of i  being.There  i s the experience of merging with the other, and the  experience of one's separatenesss  "Either we are aware of the loss of  bliss and merger when we pass through to our sense of separateness, or we  -  143  -  may experience the loss of individual autonomy when we merge or are swallowed up or dissolve in a larger container.  But we cannot exist without  57 both experiences." Individually, the Durassian voices reflect both poles.  "Voix I" in  La Femme du Gange i s actually absorbed into the passionate love story contained in the visual images, while "voix I" and "voix 3" of India Song come perilously close.  It i s by the strength of the separateness of voices  2 and 4 that they are prevented from being totally consumed by "l'histoire".  Since "voix" i s feminine, and the male voices are referred to as  "voix 3" and "voix 4", the third person feminine pronoun i s used for a l l four voices.  The atmosphere, as a result, i s pervasively androgynous,  bringing to mind the polymorphous qualities of Enki's mourners: Les voix 3 et 4 sont des voix d'hommes. Rien ne les l i e que l a fascination qu'exerce sur elles l'histoire des amants du Gange, surtout, encore une fois, celle d'Anne-Marie Stretter. La voix 3 ne sait presque plus rien de l a chronologie des faits de l'histoire. Elle questionne l a voix 4 qui l a renseigne. La voix 4 est, de toutes les voix, celle qui a le moins oublie l'histoire. Elle l a sait presque tout entiere (i.S., p.105). Like the mourners, the "voices" seem to have come into existence for the unique purpose of forming a liaison between a dying past and a new era struggling to be born: Latente chez l'une, manifeste chez 1'autre, l'histoire des amants du Gange etait DANS les deux voix. En instance de survivre ou de resurgir (I.S., pp.105-6). When Inanna i s ransomed by the mourners and brought back to the upper world, she i s changed:  she has returned with the objective eyes of  -  death of her dark sister.  144  -  With her new-found power she has the strength  to confront her consort, Dumuzi. These "eyes" "bring about the separation essential to forming an autonomous being.  Since merging i s so powerful in  the female psyche, i t i s paramount to her process of becoming an individual that she descend to the "underworld" in order to confront her unknown self, her "dark sister" and thereby gain the vision (insight), the "eyes of death" which give her the power to prevent her merging with the loved ones, thus enabling her to set herself apart as a self-motivated individual. Only now can the artist emerge. An analogous pattern i s seen in the process of Loi V. Stein. For Loi, who was the nothingness, "0" contained between the two gracefully winged "L's", " l a folle", the suffering which she does not experience i s somehow redeemed and present in the "voices",, and i s finally transformed into the writing voice of Aurelia Steiner: Ce n'est pas sans apprehension que l a voix 4 renseigne l a voix 3. Sans hesitations, non plus, souvent. La voix 3 est en effet exposee au danger — non pas de l a f o l i e comme l a voix I — mais de l a souffrance (I.S., p,106). The suffering not experienced by Loi has appeared transformed, as was Ereshkigal's suffering by Enki's mourners. It has become a poetic language rich in hyperbole, heralding the birth of a new rhetoric which w i l l characterize the writing voice of Aurelia Steiner, the f i n a l stage in the "India Song" self-portrait of a female writer.  Aurelia, Aurelia, Aurelia. II y avait quand meme une marge entre les textes de Gesaree, des Mains negatives et mon emotion, mon mouvement. II n'y a plus de marge dans ma passion  -  145  -  d'Aurelia et le texte. A l a f i n , a Vancouver, je suis Aurelia. Dans le texte de Paris, quand Aurelia a sept ans, sous le bombes, dans cette tour noire, au milieu de l a foret, je suis aussi Aurelia. Le chat lepreux dans l a caverne noire, le chat juif qui rejoint l a mendiante de Calcutta, l e chat sous les ponts qui creve de faim et qu'elle laisse mourir, je le rejoins aussi, comme Aurelia le rejoint.58 With the voice of Aurelia Steiner, the movement back towards childhood, and within towards the zone of universal experience (the zone the writer refers to as "1'ombre interne")^ culminates.  It i s as though  a wound had been healed and now a new movement, toward the outside world, can begin again: Dans l a glace de ma chambre, droite, voilee par l a lumiere sombre i l y a mon image. Je regarde vers le dehors. Les voiliers sont immobiles, scelles a l a mer de fer, i l s sont encore dans le mouvement ou les a surpris ce matin 1'evanouissement du vent. (A.S., p.140) The small mirror in Aurelia's room has a very different function from the large mirror that dominated the set in India Song. There we witnessed the voyeurism of the actors alongside the image of Anne-Marie Stretter.  Visually, Anne-Marie Stretter belongs more to the  and to her male admirers than to herself.  spectators  What she represents to others  overrides what she i s to herself, or what she represents to herself comes to her via the "look" of others:  she i s woman as object.  She escapes  that prison through suicide in the sea, symbolically a reunion with the mother. Few traces remain of the victimized Loi in the world of Aurelia,  -  146  -  except in the Jewish name Stein; yet we know the space from which the writing arises i s on a related continuum that has now been fully opened allowing a new unimpeded freedom to the movement from past, to present, to future.  The voice of Aurelia i s at the same time the unique voice of the  writer Marguerite Duras, and the female voice emerging from the dark cavern of time, joined to the Jewish voice emerging from a common wound inflicted by a humanity cut off from an intimate knowledge of i t s own death and of i t s own violences Je crois que les juifs, ce trouble pour moi s i fort, et que je vois en toute lumiere, devant quoi je me tiens dans une clairvoyance tuante, ca rejoint l'ecrit. Ecrire, c'est aller chercher hors de soi ce qui est deja au-dedans de soi. Ce trouble a une fonction de regroupement de 1'horreur latente repandue sur le monde, et que je reconnais. II donne a voir 1*horreur dans son principe. Le mot juif d i t en meme temps l a puissance de mort que l'homme peut s'octroyer et sa reconnaissance par nous. G'est parce que les nazis n'ont pas reconnu cette horreur en eux qu'ils l'ont commise. Les juifs, ce trouble, ce deja vu, a du certainement commencer — pour moi — avec l'enfance en Asie, les lazarets hors des villages, l'endemie de l a peste, du cholera, de l a misere, les rues condamnees des pestiferes sont les premiers camps de concentration que j'ai vus. Alors, j'en accusals Dieu. DU  We rediscover remnants of the former world in Aurelia's language, which i s characterized by absence, nostalgia, and pervasive desire combined with active receptivity.  Listening now plays the stronger role of  the dominant senses, "l'ecoute" having firmly replaced "le regard" as the sense of orientation in this fluid universe of the text: Ecoutez, sous les voutes du fleuve, i l y a maintenant le bruit de l a mer. Ceux de l a caverne noire.  -  147  -  Ceux des cris du chat lepreux, vous savez, celui aveugle par l a faim et qui appelle a travers le temps. Vous l'entendez? Non? Vous n'entendez plus rien peut etre? Non? Ecoutez encore.  Essayer.  Essayer encore.  Comment venir a bout de notre amour? (A.S., pp.124-5) This i s the f i r s t Aurelia.  The familiar elements of her dialogue  reverberate in the limitless spaces now existing where once there was incarceration and the paralysis of fascination.  From Loi, " l a folle", to  "le fou", to "les voix" and now to Aurelia, we witness an increasing exteriorizing of the passion which once devoured ("le rongement incessant" of S. Thala) in the Durassian heroine once held captive in relatedness and undifferentiated sleep. A cycle i s described through the descent into madness and death, the refusal, the desert of separation, and the return with the incorporated .anger and strength to confront and to stand separate in the world.  Woman has now returned to autonomous l i f e in an active  world and with her has brought "eros" back to circulate freely in the world.  The "look" that would contain, define, capture, limit, has no place  in the universe of Aurelia Steiner where words surge up into open-ended phrases forming questions to which there may exist an infinite number of responses: Comment faire pour que nous ayons vecu cet amour? Comment?  -  148. -  Comment faire pour que cet amour a i t ete vecu? (A.S. , p. 134)" The questions asked are:  how? where? who? "Mais qui etes-vous?"  They are questions summoning forth images in space, explorations in "memoria" or the modern "collective unconscious":^  1  Ou etes-vous? Que faites-Vous? Ou etes-vous perdu? Ou vous etes-vous perdu tandis que je crie que j'ai peur? On d i t que vous vivez sur une de ces fles des cotes de l a France et encore ailleurs. On d i t que vous Ites dans une terre equatoriale ou vous seriez mort i l y a longtemps, dans l a chaleur, enterre dans les charniers d'une peste, dans celui d'une guerre aussi, et aussi dans celui d'un camp de Pologne allemande. (A.S., pp.119-20) These questions are the very antithesis of theoretical questions demanding an abstract intellectual response;  the possible answers they c a l l forth  exist in a physical space where we can feel them circulating.  Aurelia  Steiner i s free, i t seems, because she listens attentively and guides our vision with her own toward the other in a movement of desire which i s a receptive act, subordinating sight to the multiplicity of polyvalent perceptions surging in the natural world evoked by her writing: Ecoutez. Sous les voutes du fleuve, ce deferlement. Ecoutez...  -  149  -  Cette appaxente fragmentation dont je vous a i parle, a disparu. Nous devrions nous rapprocher ensemble de l a f i n . De celle de notre amour. N'ayez plus peur. (A.S., pp.125-6) There i s a second Aurelia and then a third.  Yet there i s no  necessity to stop there, for we sense that "Aurelia" (aura- coming via the ear) arises from the multiplicity of writing voices within the writer. "The paradox of the objective psyche", writes James Hillman " i s a paradox grasped by Augustine who saw that memoria, or the collective unconscious, as Jung called i t , i s both "in my mind" and yet far beyond me and the range of my mind. He too was.struck by the multiplicity of souls in this unity 62  called "I"."  (Augustine's Confessions are another paradigm of the self-  portrait, according to Beaujour).  Marguerite Duras describes this same  phenomenon in reference here to "les voix": ...longtemps j'ai cru que c'etaient des voix exterieures, mais maintenant je ne crois pas, je crois que c'est moi (...) C * est une sorte de multiplicitequ'on porte en soi, on l a porte tous, toutes, mais elle est egorgee; en general, on n'a guere qu'une voix maigre, on parle avec ga. Alors qu'il faut etre debordee. (Les Lieux., p.103) "Eblouissement" i s a word that I have associated with Aurelia Steiner since f i r s t reading these texts. It describes an overflowing into a vibrant world of fresh emotion and sensation — sense of the word:  an opening in the f u l l  La mer est montee a l'assaut de l a v i l l e , elle a escalade, envahi.  -  150  -  Elle a casse les vitres, elle a fracasse les portes et les fenetres, elle a creve les murs, elle a emporte des toits et l a v i l l e est restee ainsi, ouverte, bearrte sur le vent. Dans les accalmies soudaines qui se produisaient, les reprises de forces et de souffle, on entendait les gens chanter a. pleine voix leurs prieres des morts. (A.S., p.150) This i s the second Aurelia Steiner, Aurelia, Vancouver; i t i s this text that most clearly reveals Aurelia Steiner as metaphor for the emerging writing voice (voices) which the aim of this thesis has been to reveal, f i r s t as self-portraiture and secondly as the new "female rhetoric" referred to by Marguerite Duras. It i s like a poem of strange origins arising from an electrically charged sea of memory and eros which i s the world of Aurelia Steiner.  Her  voice searches the memory traces in images of her fabulous birth in a German concentration camp, a birth marked by the death of her mother, another eighteen-year-old Aurelia, and her father, "le pendu voleur de  soupe" (p.151): Ma mere, dix-huit ans, se meurt. Devant elle, au bout de sa corde, i l l'appelle, i l crie d'amour fou. Elle n'entend deja. plus. (A.S., p.152) Aurelia, Vancouver i s the kernel of the self-portrait we have been tracing since the footsteps of Loi began leading us through a labyrinth onto vast stretches of sand in another world.  The main elements continue  to be the same: the priority of space over time, the free and all-pervasive circulation of eros (passion), and the linked motifs of " l a mer/ mere" and " l a mort", thanatos. To these three, Aurelia adds a fourth and seemingly definitive factor:  the presence/absence of the father.  It i s  -  151  -  to him that Aurelia's writing, as testimony of their unseen erotic bond, is addressed: Je suis revenue dans ma chambre tres vite pour vous ecrire. J'ai ferme les portes et les fenetres. Je me tiens la. avec vous dans la decouverte de l a plage. Je me suis eloignee de l a glace. Je me regarde. Les yeux sont bleus, dit-on, les cheveux, noirs. Vous voyez? bleus, les yeux, sous les cheveux noirs. Que je vous aime a me voir. Je suis belle tellement, a. m'en etre etrangere. Je vous souris et je vous dis mon non. Je m'appelle Aurelia Steiner. Je suis votre enfant. (A.S., p.l42) It i s as though the absence of the father forms an essential catalyst to her writing process which, i t i s evident throughout the texts, i s her existence.  Nor Hall describes the child's relationship to the father  in the following insightful passage: We are bound to the father by an invisible thread in contrast to the flesh and blood umb i l i c a l bond of pregnancy. "Seeing" the father's connection to his children, recognizing the reality of the invisible, or accepting the unknown behind the known signals the "birth of spirit, of metaphor, of the capacity for creative thought.°3 "Je pleure sans tristesse", writes Aurelia, "le soir qui tombe sur 1'absence, vous voyez, toujours"  (p.l48). The father has been conspi-  cuously absent throughout the "India Song" texts, as he was absent from the autobiographical works and from the l i f e of the author, having died when she was four years old (Les Lieux., p.48). This motif of "absence" has always been present and circulating around the figure of Loi V. Stein; i t returns now in relationship to the male/father. 64  In an article entitled "Du corps au texte",  Louis Marin analyzes  -  152 -  the relationship of the birth of speech and the origin of the "recit" to the story of the resurrection of Christ.  His tomb, when visited by the  "Maries" was found to be empty and to contain, instead of the body of Jesus, the following message:  "Fear not I know that you seek the crucified Jesus.  He i s not here for he i s risen as he told i t .  Come and see the place where  he lay." There i s a substitution, according to Marin, of the missing body by the word, bringing to birth another event of another order which i s the event of the spoken word replacing the "real" event.  Its own "reality" i s  in turn the "other", the irreducible other which i s proof of experience but only l n language, thus "message". We may ask, he continues, i f a l l speech, a l l narrative or production of the transforming of experience into discourse, i s not the result of such a "manque", and i f the discourse entirely is not intended to f i l l this "manque originaire qui le produit et ou i l se produit."^"' The symbolic order, he continues, would thus be established by the split of the same from the other, by the fact that the thing in i t s presence i s in a way "creusee de sa difference",^ i n other words, that "being" i s constituted by the "difference" which reflects the relationship to the other. Steiner.  The father represents the "other" i n the world of Aurelia  She realizes the absence of her father as a "difference" in her  most profound being;  he i s a lack to be f i l l e d .  "Separateness", i n the  sense used by Perera to define the "border region" between our self and the other, i s another way of describing this "difference."  Through the  experience of "separateness" or "difference", Aurelia discovers the realm of the symbolic where her writing f i l l s this lack or absence of the other. . Yet i n order to begin her movement toward the symbolic (the "other", the father) Aurelia f i r s t had to experience her "sameness" with her mother  Aurelia.  153 -  This has been the meaning of the wandering of Loi in the desert  of her dark sister, the drowning of Anne-Marie Stretter i n the sea, the "mendiante" lost i n the eternal childhood of madness.  "The female void",  as Nor Hall uses myth to argue, "cannot be cured by conjunction with the male, but rather by an internal conjunction, of an integration of i t s own. parts, by a re-membering or putting back together of the mother-daughter 67 body."  "Vous baigner dans le sang de ma naissance", writes Aurelia.  "Je reposais a vos cotes dans l a poussiere du sol " (A.S., p.l49).. Together with her mother, separated from the father, Aurelia has access to the symbolic represented here by "le rectangle blanc": Je ne peux rien contre l'eternite que je porte a I'endroit de votre dernier regard, celui sur le rectangle blanc de l a cour de rassemblement du camp. (A.S., p.148) It i s with her writing that Aurelia f i l l s the void of the absent father: Je me regarde, je me vois mal dans l a vitre froide de l a glace. La lumiere est s i sombre, on dirait le soir. Je vous aime au-dela de mes forces. Je ne vous connais pas. (A.S., p.l4o) In Descent to the Goddess, when Inanna returns from her intimate and devastating encounter with her dark sister (her female within which i s also her mother), she has incorporated essential qualities from her dark side, namely the "eyes of death" which see below the surface into the fundamental nature of things;  i t i s this power which enables her to con-  front the male. This essential union of the two poles of the feminine implies a certain incestuous bonding.  "The incest suggests uroboric*  nurture", writes Perera, "the level of the symbiotic bond that confirms a  *Uroboros:. mythological serpent devouring i t s own t a i l .  -  154  -  woman in her self-worth and lets her go forth with her own feminine soul,, 68 free from bondage to the collective." In parallel fashion, the relationship of Aurelia to her dead mother Aurelia clearly has incestuous overtones evoked by the language of the sea flowing continuously, weaving sensuously together i t s various parts. can no longer separate " l a mere" from " l a mer",  We  "l'enfant" from Aurelia,  the writer, Aurelia, the mother, the words as signfiers from the experience of the signified, our own feelings evoked by the images from the images themselves: Je suis allee me coucher sur l a profondeur de l a mer, face au c i e l glace. Elle etait encore fievreuse, chaude. Petite f i l l e .  Amour. Petite enfant.  Je l ' a i appelee de noms divers, de celui d'Aurelia, d'Aurelia Steiner. Dans sa profondeur encore elle se debattait entre l'epuisement et l'envie de tuer. Quelquefois, de grands mouvements l a soulevaient, des flanes de bete qui se tournent, ronds, et reprennent leur place dans l a litiere. Amour, amour, toutes ces choses qui disent pour nous. Toi, enfant, l a mer. Je l u i a i raconte l'etat de l a v i l l e . Et je l u i a i parle de l'histoire. Elle etait sous mon dos, epaisse de dix metres? de huit cents metres? La difference inexistait. Sa surface etait purement illusoire, une chair sans peau, une dechirure ouverte, une soie d'air glace. (A.S., p.155)  -  155  -  As the sea invades the landscape and with persistence insinuates itself as central signified/signifier of the text, we come to sense i t , and i t s tale, as symbol representing the new zones of expression where the writer experiments alone with her new found art. Once again we slip into the self-consciousness of the text and listen as i t describes i t s own process: Je me tiens toujours dans cette chambre sombre face a l a mer. Je suis seule dans cette maison depuis des annees. Tout le monde en est parti pour rejoindre des zones plus calmes de l a terre. A cause des tempetes i c i terribles (A.S., p.l46). We witnessed the anger of Loi as she refused her name Lola Valerie Stein, shortening i t to Loi. V. Stein. The motif of " l a colere" continued throughout the India Song texts, most often in connection to "Dieu" and to the now famous ball and Lol's resulting madness;  i t joined the story of  the beggar woman and her dying child and the anger of the mother in "Le Barrage..." (the writer's mother) against the gross injustices of this world.  In "la femme" of L'Amour these sources merged: La plainte, toujours. — Cette plainte, c'est elle? — Oui — elle s'impatiente vous comprenez, mais elle dort — i l s'arrete — 5a c'est de l a colere seulement, ce n'est rien. — Contre quoi? II montre autour de l u i le mouvement general. — Dieu — i l reprend —• contre Dieu en general, ce n'est rien. ' (L'A., p.45) The word "Dieu" has a different acceptation in the lexique of  Marguerite Duras than i t has within the larger context of her culture; for instance, she had her particular version of "Genesis" as a child.  156  -  Life coming into existence in the world reflected "un marecage gigantesque et inerte a l a surface duquel, tout a coup, une bulle d'air vient crever,, puante, une seule, puis — des milliers d'annees passent — une autre." (...) "L'Esprit de Dieu, pour moi, etait le contenu nauseabond des bulles crevees."(...)  "Je n'ai jamais ete croyante, jamais, meme enfant.  Et meme  enfant, j'ai toujours vu les croyants comme atteints d'une certaine i n firmite d'esprit, d'une certaine irresponsabilite" (Les Parleuses, p . 2 3 9 ) God i s a word like any other word. Therefore, in relationship to the story of S. Thala and Loi V. Stein, "une boucle se ferme. II est evident que lorsque L.V.S*, "remue dans le ventre de Dieu", elle revient dans le marecage materiel, mais pas vers le dieu createur, vers le marecage ou i l etait, comme le reste englouti" (Les Parleuses, p.240). Duras does not hesitate to use words such as "God" and "religious" because they have a history of meaning perhaps antithetical to her usage; on the contrary, as she contends in response to Xaviere Gauthier's comment that such words have "un sens inderacinable"s  "II se deracine, quand meme, de plus en plus"  (Les Parleuses, p , 1 7 9 ) » The anger surrounding the woman on the deserted beach in L'Amour and said, by the madman, to be against "Dieu en general", has become reintegrated in Aurelia Steiner. It i s now the force behind the sea, a metaphor for the writing i t s e l f : Le lendemain matin l a v i l l e est encore ruisselante, elle se retire des terres envahies, des rues, des pares, des cathedrales. Les bateaux du port sont couches sur leurs flanes, demates. Les plages sont recouvertes de poissons morts asphyxies par le sel des reservoirs. Des religieux sont sortis des parages de l a v i l l e , i l s sont venus ramasser les poissons morts pour les donner a manger  -  157  -  aux orphelins du monde, i l s chantent des cantiques de gratitude (A.S., p. 153).  Quand je suis rentree un marchand de journaux criait le titre de l a colere de l a mer. (A.S., p.156) The movement toward self-portraiture, as discussed in Part I, i s initiated by a c r i s i s , and, particularly for women, by the articulation of a refusal and subsequent depression (madness in Lol's case), leading to eventual healing of the original split through a re-membering of the mother/ daughter body. This i s seen in the Persephone/Demeter myth with Persephone's return from Hades and reunion with the mother.  "This split", writes Nor 69  Hall, " i s healed when she herself becomes mother."  7  It was after she her-  self had become a mother that Loi returned to S. Thala and to T. Beach where she re-created the same scenario that had caused her original i l l ness;  this time, as we learned in L'Amour, she did not re-emerge from the  madness. Instead, as implied in the passage from Les Yeux verts cited in the preliminary to Part II (p.77)i she re-emerges later, transformed into Aurelia Steiner.  I t i s to the myth of Aphrodite, the goddess of love who  gives birth to Eros, that Aurelia Steiner can be related, for, again in the words of Nor Hall: Becoming your own father or Aphrodite's cure* would mean becoming self-generating, father to your own experience, capable of independent thought and action, especially in the realms of love.70 In each  new male she encounters erotically, Aurelia rediscovers the  *Aphrodite was born from the members of her father, Sky, (Uranos), severed and thrown into the sea by her mother, Earth, who was angered by the fact that he would stuff their children back into her womb not allowing them to see the light of day.71  -  158  -  presence/absence of the father; i t i s he who symbolizes the invisible source from where her writing voice arises: Je suis rentree dans ma chambre, j ' a i rince mon corps et mes cheveux a l'eau douce et puis j'ai attendu le jeune marin a cheveux noirs. G'est en l'entendant, l u i que je vous ecris. C'est tremblante du desir de l u i que je vous aime. Je les rassemble a travers vous et de leur nombre je vous fais. Vous etes ce qui n'aura pas lieu et qui, comme t e l , se vit. De tous vous ressortez toujours unique, inepuisable l i e u du monde, inalterable amour. (A.S.i P.157) The myth of Aphrodite i s much older than than of Persephone and Demeter. The latter f a l l s into the category of the classical Greek myths which speak of the plight of the feminine in a patriarchate. Aphrodite's origins go back to somewhere between  7000 to 3500 b.c, to a "pre-  Hellenic stratum i n which women and goddesses supposedly played a pre72 ponderant and dominant role." another Ishtar.  One of her likely antecedents i s Inanna,  When Inanna re-emerged from the underworld with her dark  sister's "eyes of death", she was feared by everyone.  The re-emergence of  the repressed feminine causes fear, for i t s presence in the world, like the presence of Aurelia Steiner, confronts the world with a frightening new order that f i r s t appears as chaos and disorder: Ici, c'est 1'endroit du monde ou se trouve Aurelia Steiner. Elle se trouve i c i et nulle part ailleurs dans les terres des societes protegees d'elle, l a mer. Elle entend que le monde entier se debat contre l a meme peur, elle voit  - 159 que ce qui se passe i c i se repand sur le monde. Elle voit que le centre de l a peur se deplace. Qu'il tourne autour d'elle. Elle voit que le monde entier l a craint, elle, Aurelia Steiner (A.S., p.152). When the father of Aurelia Steiner dies in the concentration camp, the event i s again marked by the three day period so integral to initiation myths. With his death, symbolic perhaps of the death of the rule of Logos, he announces the birth of Aurelia, a rebirth of "muthos", since her writing cannot be separated from her voice which emanates from the inner depths of her being: Vous avez appele trois jours durant au bout de voire corde, vous avez crie, repete sans f i n qu'une enfant nommee.*Aurelia Steiner venait de naitre dans le camp, vous avez demande qu'on l a nourrisse, qu'elle ne soit pas donnee aux chiens. Vous avez hurle, supplie le monde, qu'on n'oublie pas l a petite Aurelia Steiner (A.S. , p. 158),, Whereas Loi rejected her name in anger, and the vice-consul, JeanMarc de Lahore cried out the name of Anne-Marie Stretter in anger and grief in the lonely desert of a world unreceptive to his suffering, Aurelia Steiner offers her name in love to the anonymous sailors — as the writer offers her writing to us — to accept and to experience as i t i s : Je l u i dis:  je vais vous donner un nom.  Vous allez le prononcer, vous ne comprendrez pas pourquoi et cependant je vous demande de l a faire, de l a repeter sans comprendre pourquoi, comme s ' i l y avait a comprendre. Je l u i dis le nom: Aurelia Steiner. (A.S., p.l6l) Aurelia, language of the body, longs to be utterly exposed:  - 160 II enleve ma robe avec soin. II dispose, dirait-on, d'un temps tres grand devant l u i . II commence a decouvrir le corps d'Aurelia Steiner. Elle ne regarde toujours pas, les yeux fermes sur le rectangle blanc de l a mort. (A.S., p.l62) "Undressing", according to the archetypal psychology of Carl Jung, symbolizes for human beings — already incarnated in body egos — a disincarnation mode, the end of one form of body-ego existence and the revelation of the hidden s e l f . "  7 3  The disrobing of females has been a salient theme throughout the "India Song" texts. It was the disrobing of Anne-Marie Stretter by Michael Richardson, and later the disrobing of Tatiana Karl by Jacques Hold, that formed the center of Lol's obsessive fantasy;  i t was this act which allowed  Loi to experience her nothingness as something almost tangible. I t i s as a process of "undressing" words that Marguerite Duras describes her writing: Cette lenteur, cette indiscipline de l a ponctuation c'est comme s i je deshabillais les mots, les uns apres les autres et que je decouvre ce qui etait au-dessous, le mot isole, meconnaissable, denue de toute parente, de toute identite, abandonne.74 When the young sailor penetrates the body of Aurelia Steiner, i t i s with her name. I t i s as though the dead father, as metaphor, marries the name to the object, the signifier to the signified, by the sexual act, which, by extension of the metaphor, becomes the creative act: La penetration du-corps d'Aurelia Steiner par le marin aux cheveux noirs, c'est le nom d'Aurelia Steiner qui s'inscrit dans le corps d'Aurelia (...) C'est-a-dire une inscription  -  161  -  et un effacement, et encore une inscription et un effacement. Elle ne peut pas attraper ce nom, elle ne peut pas attraper cet imaginaire qu'elle se cree, elle ne peut l'apprehender que par l a penetration de son corps, comme s i le nom s'ecrivait la, dans le corps.75 Aurelia Steiner, the transformed Loi V. Stein, having encountered her dark side in the underworld in a symbolic incest with the mother, has given birth to her own eros, the male within her, "becoming father to her own experiences and thus reborn to her own creative potentialities: Je l u i a i parle longtemps. Je l u i a i raconte l'histoire. Je l u i a i parle de ces amants du rectangle blanc de l a mort. J'ai chante. Je l u i parlais, je chantais, et j'entendais l'histoire. Je l a sentais sous moi, minerale, de l a force irrefragable de Dieu. (A.S. , p.156) The Durassian text moves down into the body and i t s dark secrets, winding a way through death in a never-ending search for rebirths, descents and re-emergings, Thanatos and Eros, the writing voice of Aurelia.  We  begin to understand this writing in the original sense of "com-prendre"; that i s , we understand through the experience of taking in the words, their sound, and allowing them to reverberate —  a reverberation in which  the meaning we draw from the silences parallels that which we draw from the words themselves: Parfois c'est l a place d'une phrase a venir qui se propose. Parfois rien, a peine une place, une forme, mais ouverte, a prendre. Mais tout doit etre lu, l a place vide aussi, je veux dire: tout doit etre retrouve. On s'apergoit quand on ecoute, combien les mots sont friables et peuvent tomber en poussiere. ° 7  77 "The archetype of rebirth i s initiation",  writes Nor Hall, i n -  volving the waters of Lethe, forgetfulness, and Mnemosyne, memory.  -  162 -  Lethe symbolizes "amnesia" involving "an essential sacrifice of the self, 78 a deep sleep or complete death to an old way of l i f e . "  We recognize  this pattern in Loi V. Stein and in Anne-Marie Stretter who, by La Femme du Gange, have totally lost their memories and wander in a purgatory of time, directionless, along the endless stretches of sand. The "anamnesis" i s recalling your entire story, a narrative of experience, telling the tale of "passing through the double rocks of the sea" (Finnegan's Wake) "as 78 though through the birth canal into daylight."  We see here the pattern  of the third Aurelia Steiner who recalls, in exquisite detail, the experience of the seven year old Aurelia in that black stone tower in the midst of the forest.  The remembering for Marguerite Duras attains a level  of profound clarity (of emotion and of sensation) when, after having made the journey into the past throughout the writing of the "India Song" texts, and having attained a rebirth with the arrival of the writing voice of Aurelia Steiner, she was able to write the superbly lucid and richly detailed autobiographical text L'Amant (1984). In i t she recounts the story of her f i r s t love affair at age fifteen in that foreign southern land: Je suis encore dans cette famille, c'est l a que j'habite a 1'exclusion de tout autre lieu. G'est dans son aridite, sa terrible durete, sa malfaisance que je suis le plus profondement assuree de moi.-meme, au plus profond de ma certitude essentielle, a savoir que plus tard j'ecrirai (L'Amant, p.93). The self-portrait created by Marguerite Duras reveals a way of initiation for women; each woman can be Aphrodite and give birth to Eros, her creative, autonomous self.  It involves a transformation in perspective  whereby woman, the object of masculine objectifying love based on "le regard", comes to realize her own freedom through self-regenerating  - 163 creativity;  she is no longer dependant upon, and trapped within, the  power held by the masculine look.  "God", within the context of this  Durassian schema, i s no longer an omnipotent being in the sky who speaks to us through ordained men down here on earth — the priests, the writers, and the wealthy politicians; i f "Dieu" exists, i t i s as a force within the individual which allows her/him to move beyond the confines of the narrow ego-self: Qa a a voir avec Dieu. L'ecrit a a voir avec Dieu. Aurelia Steiner dix-huit ans, dans l'oubli de Dieu, se pose en equivalence a. Dieu face a. elle-meme.79 Aurelia, the writer, autonomous in the love she experiences with her anonymous sailor lovers, explores, within the solitude of her room, the universe of the blank page where the voice of the writer joins the voices of the rest of humanity: Des que nous appelons, nous devenons, nous sommes, deja. pareils. A qui? A quoi? A ce dont nous ne savons rien. Et c'est en devenant personne pareille.que nous quittons le desert, l a societe (A.S., back cover). In the Durassian universe, the desert created by the alienating, objectifying power of "le regard" has been transformed. The other senses know an equal autonomy. Aurelia can now look out from her room in freedom upon a world where her predecessors were once held captive and captivated before the power of the look: Voici, je recommence a voir. Devant moi est nee une couleur, elle est tres intense, verte, elle occupe une partie de l a mer, elle retient beaucoup d'elle dans cette couleur-la, une mer, mais plus petite, une mer dans le tout de l a mer. La lumiere venait done du fond de l a mer, d'un  -  164 -  trop-plein de couleur dans sa profondeur, et ce contre-jour noir, un moment avant, venalt de son jalllissement de toutes parts au sortir des eaux. La mer devient transparente, d'une lulsance, d'une brillance d'organes nocturnes, on dirait non de phosphore, mais de chair. (A.S., p . l 4 l )  -  165 -  Notes  (Part II)  1.  Gilbert Durand, L'ame tigree: Les Pluriels de Psyche (Paris: Editions Denoel, 1980), p.156.  2.  Marguerite Duras a Montreal, p.38.  3.  Marguerite Duras, Le Camion (Paris: p.67.  4.  Ibid., p.107  5.  Marguerite Duras a Montreal, p.32.  6.  Husserl-Kapit, Susan. Autumn 1975, p.434.  7.  Norman 0. Brown, Life against Death (Middleton: Wesleyan University Press, 1959), P.131.  8.  Ibid.. p.172.  9.  Ibid., p.317.  10.  Sylvia Brinton Perera, Descent to the Goddess (Toronto: Books, 1981), pp.9-10.  11.  "Les Yeux verts", p.66.  12.  Susan Husserl-Kapit, "An Interview with Marguerite Duras", p.434.  13.  Jean Paris, L'Espace et le regard (Paris: p.32.  l4„  Husserl-Kapit, "An Interview with Marguerite Duras", p.434.  15.  Murray Stein, "Narcissus", Spring, 1976, p.46.  16.  L'Ombre et le nom:  17.  Linda Hutcheon, Narcissistic Narratives The Metafictional Paradox (Waterloo Ont. s Wilfred Laurier Univ. Press, 1980), p.10.  18.  Descent to the Goddess, p.32.  19.  Ihid., p.33.  20.  Bettina L. Knapp, "Interviews avec Marguerite Duras et Gabriel Cousin", The French Review, No.4, March 1971, p.655.  Les Editions de minuit, 1977),  "An Interview with Marguerite Duras." Signs,  Inner City  Editions de Seuil, 1965),  sur l a feminite, p.32.  -  166.  -  21.  Descent to the Goddess, p.33-  22.  Michel Le Guern, Semantique de l a metaphore et de l a metonymie (Paris: Librairie Larousse, 1973), p.51.  23.  Ibid., p.51.  24.  Imaginal Body, p.238.  25.  Descent to the Goddess, p.238.  26.  "Interview: Marguerite Duras and Carlos Clarens" (Winter) 75-6, pp.32-4.  27.  Marguerite Duras a Montreal, p.50.  28.  Descent to the Goddess. pp.35-6.  29.  The Moon and the Virgin, p.69.  30.  Ibid., p.233.  31.  Ibid.. p.234.  32.  Luce Irigaray, Ce Sexe 'qui n'en est pas un (Paris: Minuit, Collection "Critique", 1977), p.25.  33.  William F. Van Wert, "The Cinema of Marguerite Duras: Sound and Voice in a Closed Room", The Regents of the University Sauligner of California, 1979, p.26.  34.  Ibid.. p.25.  35.  Suzanne Horer et Jeanne Socquet, La Creation etouffee (Paris: Horay Editeur, 1973), p.186.  36.  Gabrielle Fremont, "L'Effet Duras", Etudes Litteraires, Vol. 16, no.U avril, 1983 (Sur 1 * enociation"), p. 109.  37.  Descent to the Goddess, p.67.  38.  Ibid., p.68.  39.  Ibid.. p.70.  40.  Ibid.,  41.  Ibid., p.70.  42.  Ibid., p.71.  43.  Ibid.. p.70.  p.71.  Sight & Sound  Les Editions de  Pierre  -  167 -  44.  Ibid.. p.72.  45.  Marguerite Duras, Le Navire Night, Les Mains negatives, Cesaree, Aurelia Steiner, Aurelia Steiner, Aurelia Steiner, (Paris; Mercure de France, 1979)» hack cover.  46.  The Moon and the Virgin, p.28.  47.  Descent to the Goddess, p.72.  48. Les Lieux de Marguerite Duras, p.77. 49.  James Hillman, Re-visioning Psychology (New YorksHarper Colophon edition, 1977), p.142.  50.  L'Eden Cinema (Pariss  51.  The Moon and the Virgin, p.118-8.  52.  G. Fremont, "L'Effet: Duras", p.113.  53.  Life against Death, p.70.  54.  Marguerite Duras a Montreal, p.3^«  55.  Josephine Donovan (ed.) "Theories of Feminist Criticism: logue.", Feminist Literary Criticism, Carolyne Heibrun and Catherine Stimpson, p.68.  56.  Descent to the Goddess, p.72.  57.  Ibid., p.72.  58.  Les Yeux verts, p.91.  59.  Ibid.. p.64.  60.  Ibid.. p.86.  61.  James Hillman, The Myth of Analysis (New York, Harper Colophon edition, 1972), p.170-1.  62.  Ibid., p.171.  63.  The Moon and the Virgin, p.150.  64.  Louis Marin, "Du Corps au texte: propositions metaphysiques sur l'origine durecit", Esprit, 423, 1973, pp.913-28.  65.  Ibid., p.921.  Merure de France, 1977).  A Dia-  -  168  -  66.  I b i d . , p.922.  67.  The Moon and t h e V i r g i n , p.68.  68.  Descent t o t h e Goddess, p.46.  69.  The Moon and t h e V i r g i n , p.68.  70.  I b i d . , p.151.  71.  Ibid-., p.150.  72.  P a u l F r i e d r i c h , The Meaning o f A p h r o d i t e (Chicago, The U n i v e r s i t y o f C h i c a g o P r e s s , 1978), p.9.  73.  Descent t o t h e Goddess, p.59.  74.  "Les Yeux v e r t s " , p.49.  75.  I h i d . , pp.56-7.  76.  I b i d . . p.57.  77.  The Moon and t h e V i r g i n , p.24.  78.  I b i d . , p.25.  79.  "Les Yeux v e r t s " , p.76.  -  169 -  Conclusion  "Sleep i s the curse", writes Nor Hall, "hut i t also heals." As 1  Marguerite Duras' writing moves away from the chronologically ordered story-telling of the traditional novel, and the temporal orientation of the autobiography with i t s central question "what have I done?", i t moves into the open spaces of the self-portrait which probes the more metaphysi c a l question "who am I?". The poetic mode of the Durassian text-self2 portrait which "forces the eye to slow to the cadence of the images" , presents us with a portrait of woman i n which "space" has become the dominant orientation.  "Who (what) i s woman?" — a question whose answer has  been shrouded by several millenia of masculine definitions — begins to be answered creatively, through her writing.  The sleep and silence which  have been her prison become the f e r t i l e ground from which a new rhetoric, the "rhetoric of the body", begins to be explored. Silence, as potential expression, indeed as expression, takes on a power i n the Durassian text, as i t does in the writing of other women, equal to that of what i s being said.  This idea i s elucidated by Julia Kristeva: — l e silence, le non-dit, cribles de repetitions, tissent une toile evanescente ou Blanchot voyait se reveler l a "pauvrete du language" et ou des femmes articulent, par l a parcimonie de leurs mots et les ellipses de leur syntaxe, une lacune congenitale a notre culture mono-logique: le dire du non-dire.3 Alongside the silence i n the Durassian text, we hear the cries of  anguish of the oppressed in an unsympathetic world.  In and out of these  two spaces, the "India Song" texts weave an arcane tapestry of sensorial  -  170 -  images depicting, when viewed from the perspective of myth, female i n i t i a tion or transformation.  The rythm created by this kinesthetic world of  constant becoming and dissolution within the text, compels us to follow "sourd et aveugle" (Les Lieux., p.94) into a world of "passion" and transformation. The perspective dominated by the fixed, one-dimensional "regard" which has defined the traditional novel, loses i t s power of orientation when, as we witness in Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein and Le Vice-Consul, the male narrators symbolizing this perspective follow, with no sense of their own direction, the enigmatic female subjects of their narration. The paths of these heroines, Loi V. Stein, " l a mendiante", and Anne-Marie Stretter, lead us back to the eastern atmosphere of the author's childhood, and to the new multidimentional perspective of "ecoute". Here, i n contrast to the linear, intellectual ordering of the novelese world of "le regard", an abundance of sensorial reverberations form the contours of a different "inner" world. The writer's exploration through language leads to a discovery of the potential new voice of the long repressed feminine. The world has been reversed:  instead of being seen from above and dis-  tanced by the projective power of "le regard", the world i s now being experienced from below with the "lower" tactile and kinesthetic senses. The alteration in perspective which occurs within the Durassian text destroys the prison of mortifying heartbreaks of erotic love experienced within the paradigm of romantic love, the dominant love myth of our culture.  The myth of Echo and Narcissus, when applied to the situation  of the Durassian heroine before the advent of Loi V. Stein and hence the transformation, was found to clearly reveal the incarceration and sub-  - 171 mission experienced by women within culture where the power f a l l s to the male. As we saw, Narcissus, denying Echo any "power" over him, was doomed to the unkind fate of falling in love with himself, "narcissism". Romantic love i s exclusive to the couple, and an excluded third (most often a woman), must suffer.  "Le chafnon saute" (Les Parleuses, p.  20) which creates a "paradigm shift" allowing a new perspective to come about, refers to the absence of Lol's suffering in the role of excluded third.  It was replaced instead by her movement into madness and into  eventual freedom through transformation into the writer, Aurelia Steiner. The Durassian "India Song" texts where the transformation occurs, leaves (the myth of romantic love) in ruins in the "desert" which i s our- society. The victimizers and oppressors are excluded from the Durassian universe, "indifferent" to the master/slave dichotomy;  the men now follow  the exploratory paths of women in a world deaf to political orders, i n "La nouvelle grace d'un c i e l sans Dieu."  And yet this world of indiffe-  rence i s profoundly ethical, despite the thinking of our culture's misogynous philosophers, such as Spinoza, who have claimed that women, children and madmen are excluded from the revered realm.^  These threes women,  children, and madmen, dominate the "India Song" texts;  furthermore, the  domain of ethics along with the larger domain of the written word, i s no longer a realm "revered" by the writer. On the contrary, her goal has been, and remains, to rescue writing from such separation and encapsulations II faut le deconnecter de sa... de son handicap d'etre de l'ecrit, le sortir de cette gangue de l'ecrit, cette gangue sacralisee (Le Parleuses, p.196). The Durassian text leaves categories behind and. enters upon a  -  172 -  unique search for the origins of i t s own language. Here i t shares the quest of the self-portrait: L'auto-portrait ne s'interesse pas aux diverses conditions de l'homme dans l a societe mais a une "verite cachee" qu'il poursuit dans ce terrain privilegie qu'est sa propre memoire, et sa propre ecriture. 0  A woman's self-portrait, an examination of the "India Song" texts has disclosed, reflects the fundamentality of the mother/daughter relationship to a woman's writing.  Woman exists, by extending this basic relationship  of sameness with the mother, in a state of relatedness to the other. In order to discover her own creativity, her own voice, a woman must f i r s t experience her separateness from the other.  The writer*s realization of  autonomy and separateness in the act of writing i s the secret of the pain permeating the "India Song" texts. douleur, Aurelia, et de la joie.  It i s also i t s joy:  Regarde."  "Instruite de la  It i s thus a different  "separateness" from the separateness brutally forced upon women in the patriarchy and referred to by Marguerite Duras in the quotation cited as preface to this thesis. Here i s another source of ambiguity within the text.  The "Who am I?" of the male self-portrait, becomes who is this  woman "I am" at the same time as "I am not"?: identity quest in these texts.  paradox underlying the  The anonymity attained in the end, the  "Ecrire c'est n'etre personne" of Aurelia Steiner (A.S., back cover), i n serts i t s e l f into the larger context of the unique excursion of self-portraiture : Au yoga oriental du vide, 1*auto-portrait oppose l a dispersion des lieux, 1'absence du centre, et le texte de personne.8 Aurelia Steiner, our analysis of the "IndiaSong" texts has revealed,  -  173 -  represents the culmination of this paradoxical identity quest involving the loss of identity.  It began with the madness of Loi V. Stein and her  rejection of her name. In applying the ancient Summarian myth of female initiation, "Inanna", as explicated by Sylvia Perera in Descent to the Goddess, we were able to unclose the subtlety of the transformation underlying the movement from Loi V. Stein, in her victimization, to Aurelia Steiner, in her total freedom. Inanna's descent to the underworld where she encounters her "dark sister" and subsequently i s "killed", permitted us to see Loi S. Stein's madness and "death" and the appearance of the "voices" followed by the birth of Aurelia Steiner, as one transformation. The altered perspective which results from this transformation i s qualified by a "seeing" involving a l l the senses, and reflecting an active receptivity we have been calling "l'ecoute". This way of seeing, which i s the vision of the newly autonomous androgynous creative woman represented by Aurelia Steiner, i s intimately connected to voice.  It i s a new relation-  ship that grew from Duras' experimentation with sound and image in film. As we experience in India Song and La Femme du Gange, a reversal of their roles forces us to "look" to the voices for meaning. When Inanna returns from the underworld desert she has assimilated her dark sister's "eyes of death" (p. 96).  These eyes enable her to see  beneath relatedness, the usual feminine modes Psychologically, this mode of seeing, this knowledge, implies that destruction and transformation into something even radically new are part of the cycle of reality.9 We recognize this vision in the vast blue all-encompassing gaze of "le fou"  -  174 -  in L'Amour. Even before encountering the unusual new objectivity of his vision, we get premonitory glimpses in the "non-regard" of Anne-Marie Stretter, and the strangely opaque and d i f f i c u l t to capture vision of Loi V. Stein (p.24). Aurelia Steiner embodies the penetrating power of a l l these eyes as she brings into focus the renewed vision of the autonomous female writer.  The writing voice of Aurelia i s , metaphorically,  reborn  from the ashes of Loi V. Stein, who i s in turn the space of S. Thala (thalassa  gr, "mer"):  the mer/mere to whom a l l the Durassian heroines  return when faced with the devastating love story that dominates the narrative of the "India Song" texts as i t has dominated the history of women in patriarchal culture. The role (in the myth of Inanna) of the "wily water and wisdom" god Enki and his "mourners" provides us with further insight into the significance of the Durassian "voices", precursors of the writing voice of Aurelia Steiner.  By creating a litany of the woes of the dark sister,  Ereshkigal, the mourners transform her suffering into poetry.  By analogy,  we listen to the "voices" in La Femme du Gange and India Song transform the anguish of S. Thala: Voix 2 (tres lent) QUELLE NUIT QUELLE GHALEUR ENTIERE MORTELLE Silence. (I.S., p.39) Their poetic language, so rich in hyperbole, presages the advent of a Jiew rhetoric symbolized by the birth of Aurelia (coming via the ear) in "le rectangle blanc", symbol of the blank page.  -  175 -  The repetitions of the "voices" are no longer the impotent babbling and repetitions of Echo but are instead, like the litanies of Enki's nourners, a new poetic voice assuaging the deep wound i n i t i a l l y created in early childhood when one f i r s t discovers the "border region" between self and other.  It i s from here that we experience the separation and the  merging, each essential to the f u l l realization of individuality. The difficulty lies in being able to move freely from one mode to the other. Eros, relatedness, and Thanatos, separation, death. Creation and destruction, the rythm of the Durassian text. Man i n the patriarchy has glorified his separateness as "hero" while condemning woman alone to f u l f i l l the task of relationship and merging. Aurelia Steiner i s a new breed of woman; self-actualized and autonomous in her creative mode as writer, she opposes the women of the patriarchy i n their merged roles of wife, mother, and lover. The writing of Aurelia i s experienced as a movement toward the other, a continual mapping out of the distance that separates them. Her solitude, like the solitude of her creator, i s manifest: Je crois que tout se trouve seul. Mais c'est mon... , c'est mon defaut. C'est ma maladie (Les Parleuses, p.150). Marguerite Duras' writing i s a solitary adventure since the terrain is new and the exploration has just begun;  the questions proliferate and  there are no definitive answers, and likely never w i l l be. female rhetoric of the body?  What i s the  I t i s intimately connected to space and to  voice, and i s realized more through a physical relationship to language in figures such as metonomy and synaesthesia than through metaphor and symbol. Metaphor and symbol, i t becomes clear in the Aurelia Steiner texts, are present but as possibility and potential initiating the never ending explor-  -  176 -  ation which the voice of Aurelia invites the reader to join.  We are at  the beginning of an endless dialogue between explorers of a new territory in creative language use, the writing of Marguerite Duras suggests. She offers to the reader her personal experience of transformation through a return to early childhood and the forming of the essential bond for women: union with the woman within herself.  The dominance of the visual which  has kept woman to herself, and to others, as object, has been and s t i l l is, the greatest obstacle to a woman's being present to herself and to others as subject. The desert remains, our f i n a l quote from the author informs us; however, her relationship to i t as a woman writer i s marked definitively: La distance qui nous separe est justement celle de l a mort. C'est une seule et meme distance pour vous et pour moi. De l a meme fagon que vous, vous voulez l a garder pure entre nous, de l a meme fagon, moi, je l a recouvre de mes oris et de mes appels. Comme vous, je sais que cette distance est infranchissable, impossible a couvrir. La difference entre vous et moi c'est que pour moi cette impossibilite est un inconvenient negligeable. Alors voyez, nous sommes pareils, nous nous tenons tous les deux pareillement dans nos cases respectives, dans nos territoires brules incalculablement narcissiques, mais moi je crie vers les deserts, de preference dans l a direction des deserts.10  -177  Notes  -  (Conclusion)  1.  The Moon and the Virgin, p.200.  2.  James Hillman, "Image-Sense", Spring. 1979, p.137.  3.  Franchise Rossum-Guyon and Julia Kristeva, "A Partir de Polylogue: Questions a Julia Kristeva", Revue des sciences humaines No.4, 1977, P.498.  4.  "Les Yeux verts", p.23.  5.  "A Partir de Polylogue:  6.  Miroirs d'encre. p.156.  7.  "Les Yeux verts", p.66.  8.  Miroirs d'encre, p.350.  9.  Descent to the Goddess, p.33.  10.  "VOUS, L'AUTRE, CELUI DE NOTRE SEPARATION", "Les Yeux verts", p.24.  Questions a Julia Kristeva", p.498.  -  178  -  Bibliography Works by Duras A.  Novels and Recits, in order of publication.  Les Impudents. Paris: La Vie  Editions du Plon,  tranquille. Paris:  Gallimard, 1944.  Un Barrage contre le Pacifique. Le Marin de Gibraltar.  1943.  Paris:  Paris:  Gallimard, 1950.  Gallimard, 1950.  Les Petits Ghevaux de Tarquinia.  Paris:  Gallimard, 1953.  Des Journees entieres dans les arbres suivi de Le Boa, Madame Dodin, Les Ghantiers. Paris: Gallimard, 1954. Le Square. Paris: Moderato Cantabile.  Gallimard, 1955. Paris:  Editions de Minuit, 1958.  Dix heures et demie du soir en ete.  Paris:  L'Apres-midi de Monsieur Andesmas. Paris: Le Ravissement de Loi V. Stein. Le Vice-Consul.  Paris:  L'Amante anglaise.  B.  Gallimard, 1962.  Gallimard, 1964.  Gallimard, 1965.  Paris:  Gallimard, 1967.  Scenarios and Dialogues:  Hiroshima mon amour. Paris:  Gallimard, i 9 6 0 .  Une aussi longue absence. Paris:  C.  Paris:  Gallimard, i 9 6 0 .  Multimedia:  Theatre It  Gallimard, 1961.  Film, Theatre, Text, in order of publication/ production.  Les Eaux et forets, Le Square, La Musica.  Paris:  -  179 -  Gallimard, 1965. La Musica (film). Associes, 1966. L'Amante anglaise 196*&\  Go-directed with Paul Seban, distributed by Artistes (theatre).  Cahiers du Theatre National  Populaire,  Theatre II; Suzanna Andler, Des Journees entieres dans les arbres, Yes, peut-etre. Le Shaga, Un homme est venu me voir. Paris: Gallimard, 1968. Detruire, dit-elle (text).  Paris:  Editions de Minuit, 1969.  Detruire. dit-elle (film).  Paris:  Distributed by S.M.B.P.A., 1969.  Aban, Sabana. David (text). L'Amour (text).  Paris:  Natalie Granger (film).  Paris:  Gallimard, 1970.  Gallimard, 1971. Paris:  La Femme du Gange (film).  Distributed by Films Moliere, 1972.  Never distributed.  India Song (text, Theatre).  Paris:  Gallimard, 1973.  Natalie Granger, suivi de La Femme du Gange  (texts). Paris:  Gallimard,  1973.  India Song (film).  Paris:  Distributed by Films Armorial, 1975.  Baxter, Vera Baxter (film).  Paris:  Distributed by N.E.F. Diffusion, 1976.  Son Nom de Venise dans Calcutta desert (film). Gaumont, 19757 Le Camion (film).  Paris:  Paris:  Distributed by  Distributed by Films Moliere, 1977.  Le Camion (text). Followed by "Entretien avec Michelle Porte." Editions de Minuit, 1977. L'Eden Cinema (Theatre). Le Navire Night (film). Cesaree (film).  Paris: Paris:  Mercure  de France, 1977.  Films du Losange, 1978.  Paris: Films du Losange, 1979-  Les Mains negatives (film).  Paris:  Films du Losange, 1979.  Aurelia Steiner, dit Aurelia Melbourne (film). 1979.  Paris:  Paris:  Films du Losange,  -  180 -  Aurelia Steiner, d i t Aurelia Vancouver (film).  Paris:  Films du Losange,  1979.  Le Navire Night, Gesaree, Les Mains negatives, Aurelia Steiner - Aurelia Steiner - Aurelia Steiner (texts). Paris: Mercure de France, 1979. L'Ete 80 (text).  Paris:  Les Editions de Minuit, 1980.  L'Homme assis dans le couloir (text). Paris: 1980.  Agatha (text).  Paris:  Les Editions de Minuit, I98I.  La Maladie de l a mort (text). L'Homme Atlantique  Paris:  (text), Paris:  L'Amant (text). Paris:  Les Editions de Minuit,  Les Editions de Minuit, 1982.  Les Editions de Minuit, 1982.  Les Editions de Minuit, 1984.  On Autobiography and Self-Portraiture: Beaujour, Michel.  Miroirs d'encre. Paris:  Editions du Seuil, 198O.  Burt, E.S. "The Self-portrait and Mirrors of Ink." Diacritics: A Review of Contemporary Criticism, (Winter 1982), 17-26*7 Didier, Beatrice (direction). Corps ecrit (No.5), L'Autoportrait. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1983. Doubrovsky, Serge. "Autobiographie/Verite/Psychanalyse." L*Esprit Createur: Autobiography in Twentieth Century French Literature, XX, 3 (Fall 1980), 91-104. Lejeune,Philippe.  Le Pacte autobiographique.  Paris:  Editions du Seuil,  1975.  "Le Pacte autobiographique (bis)."  Poetique.  (Nov.  1983), 416-31.  Liplansky, Marc E. "Une quete de l'identite." humaines, No.3 (1983), 6 l - 9 .  Revue des sciences  Marin, Louis. "Du corps au texte: propositions metaphysiques sur l ' o r i gine du recit." Esprit, (1973), 913-28. Thibaudeau, Jean. (ete 1968), 67-74.  "Le Roman comme autobiographie."  Tel Quel, No.34  -  181 -  General C r i t i c a l Works: Berger, John. ration, 1972.  Ways of Seeing. London: The British Broadcasting Corpo-  Derrida, Jacques.  La Dissemination.  .  Paris:  Editions du Seuil, 1972  L'Ecriture et l a difference.  Paris:  Editions du Seuil,  1967.  Durand, Gilbert. Denoe'l, 198O.  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