Yann Andrea Steinerby Marguerite Duras, Mark Polizzotti
Dedicated to Duras’ companion with whom she spent her last decade of life, Yann Andréa Steiner is a haunting dance between two parallel stories of love and solitude: the love between Duras and the young Yann Andréa and a seaside romance observed – or imagined – by the narrator between a camp counselor and an orphaned camper, a Holocaust survivor who witnessed his sister’s murder at the hands of a German soldier. Memory blurs into desire as the summer of 1980 flows into 1944. An enigmatic elegy of history, creation, and raw emotion.
Marguerite Duras’s voice, whenever we hear it, always goes straight for our hearts. —Le Monde Diplomatique
This Duras is deeply Duras. Her sentences grow alarmed if they grow longer than a line, yet there seems nothing to be alarmed about since they are apparently as empty as a road at sunrise. Then suddenly you arrive at your destination: a forest of feeling. You think, I have been here before, yet I recognize nothing. Whose trees are these? That is because only Duras’ entire oeuvre could have composed this text. The translation is lovely. —William H. Gass
Duras manages to combine the seemingly irreconcilable perspectives of confession and objectivity, of lyrical poetry and nouveau roman. The sentences lodge themselves slowly in the reader’s mind until they detonate with all the force of fused feeling and thought... —New York Times Book Review, on The Lover
Marguerite Duras conjures images, memories, and sensations out of the air and into a series of freely associated essays. One can sense the pleasure this 20th-century literary giant felt in setting off onto this ethereal odyssey...Mark Polizzotti’s translation is a joy in itself. —Boston Magazine, on Writing
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Read an Excerpt
Before anything else, at the beginning of the story told here, there was a screening of India Song at an art cinema in the city where you lived. After the film there was a panel discussion in which you participated. Then after the panel we went to a bar with some young graduate students, one of whom was you. It was you who reminded me later, much later, about that bar, a fairly elegant, attractive place, and about the two whiskeys I had that evening. I had no recollection of those whiskeys, nor of you, nor of the other young grad students, nor of the bar. I recalled, or so I thought, that you had walked me to the park- ing lot where I’d left my car. I still had that Renault 16, which I loved and still drove fast back then, even after the health prob- lems related to alcohol. You asked me if I had lovers. I said, Not anymore, which was true. You asked how fast I drove at night. I said ninety, like everyone else with an R16. That it was wonderful.
Meet the Author
Marguerite Duras was born in 1914 in Giadinh, Vietnam to French parents, both teachers. She went to live in Paris at eighteen and studied mathematics, law, and political science at the Sorbonne. In 1935, she became a civil servant in the Ministry for Colonial Affairs. During WWII, she was active in the Resistance and in 1945 she joined the Communist Party. She wrote the screenplay for Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima mon amour (1959). In 1984, her internationally bestselling novel The Lover won the Prix Goncourt. In addition to making a dozen films, Duras wrote more than 45 novels and plays over the course of her life.
Mark Polizzotti has translated the work of Jean Echenoz, Gustave Flaubert, André Breton, Christian Oster, in addition to Duras’ novel Writing in 1998 (Lumen Editions). He is the author of Revolution of the Mind: The Life of André Breton (FSG) and is director of publications at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited will be released this fall with Continuum.
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