In Duras’ footsteps. The idle rich.

Michaël Samyn, September 12, 2012

Next to the tennis courts, several other elements that refer to the life of the wealthy recur in Marguerite Duras’ work. There’s always a villa somewhere. Often inhabited, as in Moderato Cantabile, by the unsatisfied wife of a more or less invisible rich husband.

So one of the incarnations of the café exterior in Bientôt l’été is a villa. And when somebody enters to start a twoplayer session, a window on the first floor opens and we can see light through the curtains. Referring to the sleepless nights of the mistress of the house, spent gazing out, observing young couples taking nightly strolls under the dark shadows of the flowering magnolia in the moonlight.

This magnolia tree also makes an appearance in Bientôt l’été. Its almost nauseatingly sensual scent penetrating the nostrils of the doctors and lawyers and politicians and entrepreneurs invited to the dinner with their glamorous wives. One night, the lady of the house takes one of the giant flowers and ornaments her cleavage with it. Then she drinks too much and vomits. She had already been having cheap wine in the café with a factory worker.

Another open window is in a hotel, also present in Bientôt l’été. Through this hotel window, in several of Duras’ novels, a woman observes a man making love with his mistress. She does this hidden, lying down in a wheat field that grows next to the hotel, as in Bientôt l’été. The man knows she is there but he cannot see her.

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