from The Malady of Death

Marguerite Duras says “in heterosexual love there’s no solution. Man and woman are irreconcilable, and it’s the doomed attempt to do the impossible, repeated in each new affair, that lends heterosexual love its grandeur.”

from Marguerite Duras’s The Malady of Death:

If I ever filmed this text I’d want the weeping by the sea to be shot in such a way that the white turmoil of the waves is seen almost simultaneously with the man’s face. There should be a correlation between the white of the sheets and the white of the sea. The sheets should be a prior image of the sea. All this by way of general suggestion.

The Malady of Death is a moving, erotic story that explores the relationship between sex, love, and death. The book is really about a soul which has died and its means of finding love through (as it seems) “meaningless” sex, often in complete silence, a strange kind of voiceless ecstasy. A man (whom the author addresses as “you”) hires a woman to spend several weeks with him by the sea where he suffers and longs to feel something, anything, in that brief period of time. The language of the text is what I would expect from Marguerite Duras: terse yet lyrical prose, moving in the way it injects simple, familiar words with the weight of emptiness and passion and suffering. I could read this book again and be moved in the same way as I was the first time. The most remarkable exchange between the man and women occurs here, perhaps my favorite lines in the entire work: “You ask how loving can happen–the emotion of loving. She answers: Perhaps a sudden lapse in the logic of the universe. She says: Through a mistake, for instance. She says: Never through an act of will. You ask: Could the emotion of loving come from other things too? She says: It can come from anything, from the flight of a night bird, from a sleep, from a dream of sleep, from the approach of death, from a word, from a crime, of itself, oneself, often without knowing how.”

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