Marguerite Donnadieu, known as Marguerite Duras (French: [maʁ.ɡə.ʁit dy.ʁas]; 4 April 1914 – 3 March 1996), was a French novelist, playwright, scriptwriter, essayist and experimental filmmaker. She is best known for writing the 1959 film ‘Hiroshima mon amour’, which earned her a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards.
Marguerite Duras’ THE LOVER, an excerpt.
The meetings with the family begin with big meals in Cholon. When my mother and brothers come to Saigon I tell him he has to invite them to the expensive Chinese restaurants they don’t know, have never been to before.
These evenings are all the same. My brothers gorge themselves without saying a word to him. They don’t look at him. They can’t. They’re incapable of it. If they could, if they could make the effort to see him, they’d be capable of studying, of observing the elementary rules of society. During these meals my mother’s the only one who speaks, she doesn’t say much, especially the first few times, just a few comments about the dishes as they arrive, the exorbitant price, and then silence. He, the first couple of times, plunges in and tries to tell the story of his adventures in Paris, but in vain. It’s as if he hadn’t spoken, as if nobody had heard. His attempt founders in silence. My brothers go on gorging. They gorge as I’ve never seen anyone gorge, anywhere.
He pays. He counts out the money. Puts it in the saucer. Everyone watches. The first time, I remember, he lays out seventy-seven piastres. My mother nearly shrieks with laughter. We get up to leave. No one says thank you. No one ever says thank you for the excellent dinner, or hello or goodbye, or how are you, no one ever says anything to anyone.
My brothers will never say a word to him, it’s as if he were invisible to them, as if he weren’t solid enough to be perceived, seen or heard. This is because he adores me, but it’s taken for granted I don’t love him, it’s impossible, that he could take any sort of treatment from me and still go on loving me. This is because he’s Chinese, because he’s not a white man. The way my brother treats my lover, not speaking to him, ignoring him, stems from such an absolute conviction it acts as a model. We all treat my lover as he does. I never speak to him in their presence. When my family’s there I’m never supposed to address a word to him. Except, yes, except to give him a message. For example, after dinner, when my brothers tell me they want to go to the Fountain to dance and drink, I’m the one who has to tell him. At first he pretends he hasn’t heard. And I, according to my elder brother’s strategy, I’m not supposed to repeat what I’ve just said, not supposed to ask again, because that would be wrong. I’d be admitting he has a grievance. Quietly, as if between ourselves, he says he’d like to be alone with me for a while. He says it to end the agony. Then I’m not supposed to catch what he says properly, one more treachery, as if by what he said he meant to object, to complain of my elder brother’s behaviour. So I’m not supposed to answer him. But he goes on, says, is bold enough to say, Your mother’s tired, look at her. And our mother does get drowsy after those fabulous Chinese dinners in Cholon. But I still don’t answer. It’s then that I hear my brother’s voice. He says something short, sharp, and final. My mother used to say, he’s the one who speaks the best out of all the three. After he’s spoken, my brother waits. Everything comes to a halt. I recognise my lover’s fear, it’s the same as my younger brother’s. He gives in. We go to the Fountain. My mother too. At the Fountain she goes to sleep.
In my elder brother’s presence, he ceases to be my lover. He doesn’t cease to exist, but he’s no longer anything to me. He becomes a burned out shell.
‘The Scent of Green Papaya’ (Vietnamese: Mùi đu đủ xanh, French: L’Odeur de la papaye verte) is a 1993 Vietnamese-language film produced in France by Lazennec Production, directed by Vietnamese-French director Tran Anh Hung, and starring Tran Nu Yên-Khê, Man San Lu, and Thi Loc Truong.
The film won the Caméra d’Or prize at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival, a César Award for Best Debut at the French annual film award ceremony, and was nominated for the 1993 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. ‘The Scent of Green Papaya’ is Tran Anh Hung’s first feature film and stars his wife, Tran Nu Yên-Khê. The film is also the director’s first collaboration with Vietnamese composer Tôn-Thât Tiêt who would subsequently write the music for two more films: ‘Cyclo’ and ‘Vertical Ray of the Sun’.
Although set in Vietnam, the film was shot entirely on a soundstage in Boulogne, France.
Plot: A young girl, Mùi, becomes a servant for a rich family. Mùi is notably peaceful and curious about the world. The family consists of a frequently absent husband, a wife, an older son, two younger sons, and the husband’s mother. When the husband leaves for his fourth and final time, he takes all the household’s money. He returns ill and passes away shortly after.
First of all, I took her at her own evaluation which very few people did…the very inappropriateness of our being together was to me the sign that it was appropriate…that we were two parts, however remote, of this society, of this life…