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Marguerite Duras: A Thematic and Technical Study.

Redhead, G. B (1972) Marguerite Duras: A Thematic and Technical Study. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94603) (KAR id:94603)


This thesis attempts to examine the works of Marguerite Duras up to the year 1970. Duras has written novels and plays, and more recently film-scenarios; she has also directed films based on her own works. All these aspects of her output are discussed. After a brief introduction outlining Marguerite Duras's life and artistic development, the thesis divides into two parts: "Thematic Continuity" and "Technique and Style".

In the first part Duras's works are studied for their close thematic similarities. In her outlook on the human condition, Duras wavers between optimism and pessimism. She writes principally about love, which according to her can offer self-fulfilment and spiritual release; it is an intensely passionate experience; yet its survival is never guaranteed and it may lead to unhappiness (ch.l). Duras is obsessed by the idea of loneliness, though she always holds out the possibility that men and women will enter into contact (ch.2). Human existence is presented as claustrophobic, often painful, yet Duras shows how ordinary people are capable of escaping from it, or of rebelling against it (chapters 3» 4). Time, too, can be both friend and enemy, fulfilling an individual's aspirations, but more frequently bringing change for the worse (ch. 5 ). A further theme in her work, related to that of time, is the way in which individuals are linked with their past through the processes of memory (ch.6).

Since 1964, the majority of Duras's works have centred on madness, and the next two chapters cover what she considers at present her most important ideas (chapters 7, 8). Madness is seen as a means of self-liberation. The idea is crucial to Duras's present political concerns, since madness offers the key to transcendence and a new fora of Communism, as Duras conceives it. The ninth chapter covers two minor themes: the relationship between parent and child, and the effect of sexuality upon personal development.

The second part of the thesis studies Duras's experiments in form, which throw light on meaning and the writer's attitude to her material. Duras's novel-techniques have been dictated by her rejection of authorial omniscience and the novel "S. la Balzac". The angle of vision is severely restricted. Duras has dispensed with psychological analysis of all characters save the central figure. Conversation therefore assumes capital importance in her aesthetic; it is skilfully fashioned to hint at psychic states and unarticulated thoughts (ch.10). Chapter 11 deals with technique in the plays, which again are totally dependent upon conversation; the tempo of the dialogue gives the plays their shape. Both as script-writer and film-director, Duras exploits the resources of the cinema for dramatic effect and to underline theme (ch.12).

In chapter 13, the essential aspects of Duras's style are examined. The discussion is primarily concerned with style in the novels, but shows how stylistic devices have been transferred from one genre to another. The thesis concludes by describing Duras's position as a writer today.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94603
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance Literature > PQ1 French Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2023 09:39 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2023 09:39 UTC
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