Moderato Cantabile is the book that introduced Marguerite Duras’s work to me a lifetime ago. I’ve read it twice before, but was apprehensive of my third reading. Twenty years on, could it possibly be as wonderful as my recollection?
Each time of reading, there are subtleties that unfold, that passed me by on a last reading. The blurb is definitive: “A distressed young man murders the woman he loves in a café, watched by a large crowd.” As the tale opens up, even this statement is questionable. There are ambiguities, inexactness, space for alternative interpretations for the reader, as for the protagonists. I hesitate to elucidate too much for fear of robbing anyone of the thrill of revelation. But Duras is subtle, no heavy-handed trickery, just a fierce intelligence at work.
>I am currently being introduced to Duras by reading "The Sailor from Gibraltar". Looks like "Moderato Cantabile" will have to be added to the list. It sounds great.
>Ah, wonderful; I've not yet readThe Sailor from Gibraltar but it is on order. It is considered one of Duras's major works, like Moderato Cantabile.
>You make this sound incredibly, Anthony! I feel Duras might be a bit above my head at the moment, but I'd definitely like to read this sometime.
>It is quite brilliant, Iris. I am sure you would enjoy it. If you want to get a feel for Duras, The Lover is a great starting point.
>This sounds fanTAStic! Must search for it in France. Love all the Duras posts popping up around the blogosphere of late.
>It is a remarkable book, Emily, and it demands multiple readings.
>I've loved everything of Duras's I've read, which is to say, not enough of her work as I hadn't even heard of this one! I'm going to find it. You've read The War, I think? Mind-blowing.
>No, Colleen, I haven't read The War, so thank you for the suggestion. I've added it to my list to read this year. I've just bought Duras's last autobiographical (of sorts) work No More. Her next fiction that I plan to read is The Sailor of Gibraltar.