In Duras’ footsteps. The seaside.

Michaël Samyn, September 9, 2012

The seaside scene in Bientôt l’été is based on a mix of influences. The dike is a typical element from the Belgian coast line that I’m very familiar with. But Trouville-sur-Mer, the French coastal home town of the writer whose work inspired the game, Marguerite Duras, doesn’t have a dike. Instead, a row of buildings is planted straight on the beach, including Duras’ residence, the majestic former hotel, Les Roches Noires.

This building was the direct inspiration for one of the exteriors of the café on the dike in Bientôt l’été. In front of Les Roches Noires is a boardwalk, referred to on several occasions in Duras’ novels and also present in the game.

Another building typical of the Belle Epoque coastal towns is the casino. There’s a casino in Trouville and one of the buildings in Bientôt l’été was inspired by it.

A coastal casino is a recurring feature in Duras’ novels. It hosts the ball room where Anne-Marie Stretter breaks Lol V. Stein’s spirit by seducing her financé. And the café in Bientôt l’été, sometimes.

As a seaside resident, Duras often refers to the ocean in her novels. Seldom as the typical romantic environment, though. And having spent two nights in Trouville, I understand. The sea is a violent monster, as mysterious as it is indifferent.

One of her novels, L’amour takes place almost entirely on the beach. It’s about a confused love triangle. And of course there’s Moderato Cantabile, written long before Duras lived at the seaside -it’s one of her early successes- that takes place in a small industrial harbor town at the Atlantic coast. The character design and the entire talking at a café table come straight out of that book.

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