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Me & Other Writing

Me & Other Writing

by Marguerite Duras, translated from the French by Olivia Baes and Emma Ramadan, introduction by Dan Gunn

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In her nonfiction as well as her fiction, Marguerite Duras’s curiosity was endless, her intellect voracious. Within a single essay she might roam from Flaubert to the “scattering of desire” to the Holocaust; within the body of her essays overall, style is always evolving, subject matter shifting, as her mind pushes beyond the obvious toward ever-original ground.

Me & Other Writing is a guidebook to the extraordinary breadth of Duras’s nonfiction. From the stunning one-page “Me” to the sprawling 70-page “Summer 80,” there is not a piece in this collection that can be easily categorized. These are essayistic works written for their times but too virtuosic to be relegated to history, works of commentary or recollection or reportage that are also, unmistakably, works of art.

Additional Book Information

Series: Dorothy
ISBN: 9781948980029
Pages: 204
Publication Date:


This little book of goodies starts off with a bang. . . . And the brief translators’ Afterword to this collection is a piece of writing on its own, a tender précis on the art, and dilemmas, of rendering Duras and her "écriture courant" in English.
—Rachel Kushner, Artforum

Of course many of us have read L’Amant, and many of us are already fans of the kind of autofiction that Duras helped popularize, but despite that I was unprepared for how deeply affecting a reading experience Me & Other Writing would be. Duras is not for an age, as they say, but for all time, and the pieces collected lovingly and thoughtfully into this volume will stay with me forever.
—Kyle Williams, Chicago Review of Books

The work in Me & Other Writing varies from essays to journalism to the beginnings of the autofiction she would make famous with L’Amant, for which she won the Prix Goncourt in 1992, but they are completely alike in their didacticism, humor, pessimism, and intelligence. Her voice is so strong that she dissolves boundaries to create a single oeuvre, a composite but unified body of work.
—Natasha Boyd, Los Angeles Review of Books

Baes and Ramadan capture the liberty and madness, the very breath of Duras’s thought: moving seamlessly between ideas, the measured precise inhales and exhales of an opera singer. They make distant events, foreign ideas, and even repulsive thoughts belong to the reader herself. . . . Reading Me & Other Writing is a powerful experience: I’ve been compelled to tell people about it and to share her ideas and nearly aphoristic paragraphs with my own writing students.
—Allison Grimaldi-Donahue, Words without Borders

As Duras tells us about the Moscow Olympics, shipyard strikes in Gdańsk, her hopes for a proletarian revolution, and her despair at the 'misfortune of mankind,' she weaves in a tender narrative about a small boy and the adolescent girl who looks after him. This is entirely fictional—a characteristic ploy from a writer who believed that understanding suffering was an act of the imagination.
The New Yorker

Duras's writings span a host of styles and emotional tones, but Anglophone readers have, to date, not been exposed to nearly as much of her nonfiction. That's all about to change with this expansive collection of her nonfiction, offering readers a way to engage with a new, and equally impressive, side of Duras's bibliography.
Vol. 1 Brooklyn

This is writing that demands, and provides, its own spotlight—not only through its incandescent intelligence (as in Duras's reading of the violence enacted not by, but upon, Simone Deschamps in 'Horror at Choisy-le-Roi'), but also through its refusal of linear exposition, the way it careens from one idea to another or dashes the reader's expectation of authorly pronouncements by offering instead a lyrical image (Olivia Baes and Emma Ramadan reflect on the challenges of translating this opacity in an excellent note in the book's final pages).
—Heather Cleary, Literary Hub

Essays, aphorisms and other eclectic nonfiction from one of the 20th century's greatest thinkers and prose stylists.
The New York Times Book Review

While reading Marguerite Duras, it can be hard to tell if you are pressing your hands to her chest or if she is pressing her hands to yours. Has she mined your deepest feelings or have you caught her heart's fever? Her nonfiction, written in the same blood and seawater as her fiction, produces the same sensation.
—Julia Berick, The Paris Review Daily

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