Space, Place, and Memory: The Holocaust Effect in Marguerite Duras’ La Douleur

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The vast pain of Marguerite Duras’ traumatic past occupies many of her texts. Meyer analyzes the Holocaust’s effect on Duras’ representation of space, place, and memory in La Douleur (1984) in dialogue with Les Cahiers de la Guerre (2006), her novel Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein (1964) and Finkiel’s film (2017), The tension between trauma which erupts through her texts and memory narrated in often controlled ways seems inextricably linked to the earth (place and space). The mechanisms of trauma which erupts unconsciously through various voids in Duras and in her narrative differ from those of a more conscious manipulation of memory. This article interrogates how the contrast of closing the La Douleur with the expansive beach and endless horizon informs the cramped darkness of ditches, bodies, and domestic spaces which precede them. Is there control (or repression) operating here in an effort to contain trauma that functions differently in her fictive texts? How can the beaches of her fictional Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein along with Duras’ mother’s attempts to salvage the family property against the encroachment of the ocean which threatens the family’s livelihood, marking the mother’s madness in Un barrage contre le Pacifique (1950), help us to reconsider the ways Duras inscribes traumatic memory into her autobiographical texts?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)476-485
Number of pages10
JournalContemporary French and Francophone Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • beach
  • Duras
  • La Douleur
  • memory
  • sea
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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