The Lover  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
For the film based on it, see The Lover (film)

L'Amant (English: The Lover) is an autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras, published in 1984 by Les Éditions de Minuit. It has been translated to 43 languages. It was awarded the 1984 Prix Goncourt.

Plot summary

Set against the backdrop of French colonial Vietnam, The Lover reveals the intimacies and intricacies of a clandestine romance between a pubescent girl from a financially strapped French family and an older, wealthy Chinese man.

In 1929, a 15 year old nameless girl is traveling by ferry across the Mekong Delta, returning from a holiday at her family home in the village of Sa Đéc, to her boarding school in Saigon. She attracts the attention of a 27 year old son of a Chinese business magnate, a young man of wealth and heir to a fortune. He strikes up a conversation with the girl; she accepts a ride back to town in his chauffeured limousine.

Compelled by the circumstances of her upbringing, this girl, the daughter of a bankrupt, manic depressive widow, is newly awakened to the impending and all-too-real task of making her way alone in the world. Thus, she becomes his lover, until he bows to the disapproval of his father and breaks off the affair.

For her lover, there is no question of the depth and sincerity of his love, but it isn't until much later that the girl acknowledges to herself her true feelings.

Published Versions

There are two published version of The Lover, one written in an autobiographical style without any structure of time, as the young girl narrates the whole event in first-person and leaves out many plot and character descriptions. In the other version called The Lover from Northern China just released after or before the movie version, it was written in a movie script form and this time the girl is viewed in a third-person with written dialog between the characters, albeit her personal thought had been left out. Also this version contains some more humour than The Lover version.

Real-life connections

Duras never revealed the real name of her Chinese lover, but later admitted to being the girl when the film The Lover was being made. The last thing she heard of him was that he immigrated to United States to escape communism. He had already died when the movie was produced.

Duras was only 15 and a half at the time of her love affair, which is also the age of the heroine in the novel and in the movie.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Lover" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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