“Nothing more”, the last diary that Marguerite Duras dictated to her lover

“I love him. See you soon”. Those two sentences are the last thing Marguerite Duras, the French novelist, playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker, said. Three days later, at the age of 81, he died. He dictated it, to write it, to Yann Andréa, his secretary, companion for the last sixteen years of his life, his “lover of the night”, to whom he dedicated the very small and moving book “Nothing more”, which Periférica published .

The little book, translated by Vanesa García Cazorla, is a condensed sip, luminous and bitter at the same time, of love and heartbreak, of envy and devotion, of life and death, of memory and absence, of resigned acceptance and irrational protest, of longing, accusations, battle against a body that abandons her. ““A heartbreaking voice-over scream in the anteroom of death, a love letter as fervent as it is spiteful,” writes her translator at the end of the book.

With carefully dated entries (which begin on November 21, in the afternoon, on rue Saint-Benoît) Yann writes down what the woman dictates to him, sometimes without compassion, even with violence (as when she tells him: “I can’t stand your future” or this: “You are useless. A nobody. A zero to the left”). They were united by a stormy relationship, as full of reproaches as it was passion: Yann Andréa, a homosexual man and almost four decades younger, was inseparable from the writer, until the end.

-What absorbs it?
-Writing, a tragic occupation (…),
says.
And much later: “Spending your life writing teaches you how to live: it doesn’t save you from anything.”

No. It does not save her from loneliness, old age, decadence or love. Everything is compressed sparsely, sharply, in often lacerating phrases, reproduced in the 73 pages of this diary that seems dictated with the last remaining ferocity. It is a testament, an agonizing text that concludes in February 1996, and that records the fifteen months in which Duras was torn between resistance to death and his immersion in “the void, that is, freedom.”

“The only thing I know is that I no longer have anything. It’s the horror. There is nothing left but emptiness. The gaps. The emptiness of the last land. We are not two. “Everyone is alone.” (Tuesday, January 30)


Marguerite Duras (1914-1996) was a novelist, screenwriter, and film director. In all areas, she was visceral, an author focused on loss, on the “poetics of disaster,” as they define it. Her recognition came in 1984, with the successful novel “The Lover”, which with its doses of eroticism and autobiographical elements, starring a French teenager and a wealthy Chinese man, won the Goncourt Prize. She wrote it when she was 70 years old. “Now I understand that very young, at 15 years old, she had that premonitory face that I later got with alcohol, half of my life. Alcohol replaced the function that God did not have, it also had the function of killing me, of killing. That face of alcohol came before alcohol. The alcohol confirmed it,” she writes there. In that text that not only revealed the secret relationship at the age of 15 with a 26-year-old Chinese merchant, but also the harshness of growing up in the shadow of a mother who adored her eldest son (and not her) and who spent her life savings to become a landowner without success in ancient Indochina.

Everyone, including her, would have expected success to come much sooner. Especially in 1950, with his magnificent “A Dam Against the Pacific.” “They didn’t give it to me because he was a communist,” Duras explained in a famous television interview with Bernard Pivot.

The family and colonial past lives on in much of his work, in “Moderato cantabile”, in “The vice-consul”, in “The rapture of Lol V. Stein” (praised by Jacques Lacan), and also in his films: “ India Song”, in “The Name of Venice, in Deserted Calcutta” and “The Woman of the Ganges”. Duras was also co-author of the script for one of Alain Resnais’s masterpieces, “Hiroshima mon amour.”

There are references to his works in “Nothing More”, to his cinema, to his recurring obsessions. But the book is, above all, a last love letter, in spite of which he will remain alive.
You remember how beautiful we were. Afterwards, no one has been as good as that.”
“It’s funny that I still love you even when I don’t love you.”

In small homeopathic doses, Duras spreads his love and his heartbreak, his fear, his contradictions, his tumultuous passions, sometimes gentle, sometimes hurtful. Everything explodes into splinters. It is impossible not to leave the book shaken.

 
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