• Great Beginnings: The Lover

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Great Beginnings     Comments 2 comments

    The LoverI’ve just started reading Marguerite Duras’ 1984 novel The Lover, and boy, so far, so good. The opening graf is a grabber, and since it’s been nearly two months since we’ve looked at a Great Beginning, let’s kick off the week with a new one. Literature, yo!

    Duras opens the book with:

    One day, I was already old, in the entrance of a public place a man came up to me. He introduced himself and said, “I’ve known you for years. Everyone says you were beautiful when you were young, but I want to tell you I think you’re more beautiful now than then. Rather than your face as a young woman, I prefer your face as it is now. Ravaged.”

    So, what do we learn here about the narrator and the narration? What is Duras up to with “One day, I was already old, …”? Does she make you want to continue reading? Why or why not?

    Leave your comments and questions below, and tick the “Notify” box to keep up with the conversation.

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    Amanda Craig

    Love it! It’s certainly startling. You wonder what made her age, and why on earth would someone prefer a ravaged face–certainly a provocative word on all its own. I think the “I was already old” was simply a interestingly placed phrase for saying, “I wasn’t young. I was older.” It reads awkwardly, but then, it’s clearly an awkward moment. You also have to wonder who this other character is. They are officially strangers as he has to introduce himself–but he mentions he has known her for years and also remembers her clearly when younger. You would have to assume he… Read more »


    Also, “One day” is really vague, and the “I was already old” implies that now the narrator is even older. I mean, obviously she’s older now, reflecting on the past … but very, very old? Like, deathbed-confessions old? And does the “already” imply early aging? Like, we’re about to revisit incidents from her youth that were so traumatic that they aged her prematurely? You’re right, Amanda, the “I’ve known you for years” is really curious. Not “known *of* you,” but “known you.” Even if he has been watching her from afar, for him to feel like he knows her implies… Read more »

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