The Ravishing of Lol Stein

ISBN: 0394743040
ISBN 13: 9780394743042
By: Marguerite Duras Richard Seever

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About this book

Lol Stein is a beautiful young woman, securely married, settled in a comfortable life--and a voyeur. Returning with her husband and children to the town where, years before, her fiance had abandoned her for another woman, she is drawn inexorably to recreate that long-past tragedy.

Reader's Thoughts

mark monday

so there's this chick Lol Stein, a real blank broad, gets ditched by her cougar-lovin' fiance. bitch goes crazy, but the quiet kinda crazy, the kinda crazy you keep to yourself. girl gets married to some musician type. years later, she's a mother of three, living in her old town, and she gets wrapped up in her hottie best friend's life. the best friend is busy giving it up to this prick, a dapper don who works with her husband at the local hospital. Lol gets obsessed with the douchebag. some boring get-togethers happen. Lol spends some time watching the hotel room where the two are busy banging it out. mr douche spends some time wondering what is up with Lol. finally Lol and the ever-curious prick take a long-assed train trip to the place where Lol was first ditched years ago. they sit on the beach a while and talk some bullshit. finally, they bone. the end.so there is an empty vessel. her name is Lol Stein. some say her mind became bent when she was betrayed by her lover; others say her mind was always a blank. Lol is a being who has let form define meaning; she has built her life around ideas such as what should a house and home look like? and how should a wife act, how should a scorned lover feel? Lol begins to be obsessed with her friend's affair... she wants to watch where the two lovers go, she wants to be a silent witness to their acts, she wants to find meaning in the forms of their passion. she wants their passion to fill her. in turn, her friend's lover becomes obsessed with her... he wants to understand what lies beneath that glassy surface, he wants to see his passion reflected upon it. is the nature of their different obsessions simply to be obsessed with the idea of an obsession? is that the nature of passion, of obsession... form eventually becoming meaning?so there is a french writer, Marguerite Duras. her novels are not written in the classic literary form; her works are a part of the Nouveau roman - they are anti-tradition. her novels reject such stand-bys as narrative, characterization, plot. her novels take the details of the world, the form of her characters' actions, and centralizes them so that these details, these descriptions of form, become the meaning itself. in her focus on these physical details, on the physicality of actions, she could possibly be considered a sensual writer. and yet this distance, this separation of incident from emotion, this focus on dividing intellectual contemplation from emotional reaction, makes her works an often clinical, alienating experience. ironically enough, her novel The Ravishing of Lol Stein is ostensibly about passion and voyeurism and the nature of love, the meaning of obsession, the traps and tricks of perspective and point of view. it is a passionless rendering of the various forms of passion.so there is a reviewer, mark monday, a shallow kind of guy, one with an automatic bias against the intellectualization of sensuality. he finds it distasteful, hollow, unreal. even worse, he finds it to be Not Hot. perhaps he is merely symptomatic of gender essentialism at its most prosaic - a man who responds to visual, sensory outputs like all men supposedly do - the kind of guy who wants visceral activity, sensual description, the kind of dude who is intimately familiar with the pornographic appeal of the extreme close-up detail. he wants it to be real. and so he rejects Duras' frosty attempt to deconstruct the nature of passion and obsession. it leaves him cold.so there is this guy, Mark M_____, he's rather an intellectual sort. he is a thinker. one of his favorite films is Hiroshima Mon Amour, written by Marguerite Duras. he admires the film's ability to position two living, breathing characters as - eventually - something both less and more than human... as archetypes for all lovers, for all individuals seeking meaning in escape, in passion, in the forms that meaning takes, within the at-times obliterating, all-encompassing physicality of each other's arms. he admires Duras' distance. he enjoys her lack of reliance on traditional narrative, plot, and characterization. in particular, he appreciates how, in books like The Ravishing of Lol Stein, the reader can literally pick any random page and, reading that page, understand the meaning of the entire work. each detail is symptomatic of the whole. he loves that.so there was this bookish kid, Mark, who worked in the a/v department (of course) while going to school at ucsd. one evening he was in charge of a special screening of the film Hiroshima Mon Amour, for a class that he was in. unfortunately, Mark was high as a kite and got the reels mixed up... so the viewing audience saw the first part of the film first, the third part of the film second, the second part of the film last. there was not a single complaint from the audience. in class the next day, the students discussed the film - and there was no mention of a narrative breakdown, of a mix-up in reels. the purpose of the film remained clear for the students. each detail within the film distilled the meaning intended by the filmmakers. the narrative order was inconsequential. content did not drive form. characterization was unnecessary. plot was meaningless. meaning was present in each part of the film. each part was a whole. so there was this book, The Ravishing of Lol Stein. it dealt with passion and obsession, and the forms they take, and the meaning of those forms. it dealt with those subjects intellectually, objectively, without heat or emotion. it showed no interest in rendering its characters so that they could be understood empathetically. it left me cold. Duras began to seem rather heartless, rather cruel. but after some time, i began to recall Hiroshima Mon Amour, and what i loved about that film. i began to consider the novel again. i contemplated Duras' challenging themes. i started to admire the novel's distance, its alienation from its own topic. and so i grew to understand its frigid appeal, its sensual lack of earthy sensuality. well, what can i say: sometimes i dig a cold, smart bitch.

Amir

خانم مارگاریت عزیز؛دیشب کتاب شیدایی لل اشتاین تان را خواندم. با همه ی احترامی که برای رمان هاتان قایلم نمی توانم از این بگذرم که چندان چیزی از درونیات مردها نمی دانید. قبول دارم؛ ما مردها از شما پیچ و تاب کمتری داریم. اما دیگر نه آن قدر که سبک سرانه با شخصیت های مردتان برخورد کنید. نه این قدر که شخصیت مردتان توی روز روشن رفتارها و واکنش های بی ربط داشته باشد. کجای دنیا مرد از به هم خوردن آرایش صورت و موی زن این قدر دقیق حرف می زند. کجای دنیا مردها این قدر منفعل و بی خاصیت هستند که دوتاشان اصلا نباشند، یکی شان اصلا توی دور نباشد، آن یکی هم که هست بیشتر یک زن باشد تا مرد. حیف این داستان خوب و تغییر پیاپی و معرکه ی راوی ها نبود؟ نمی شد مردها را با همان ضعف های خودشان، که کم هم نیستند روایت می کردید؟ خاطرخواه نوشته هاتان هستم، خودتان هم می دانید؛ اما دیگر گند نزنید به خاطره ها.

FrankH

Club ReadI agree with Michele that 'Ravishing' contains passages of expressive, poetic language but, for me, as a study of obsession and perhaps madness, the recursion and duality inherent in the major themes and the presentation do not completely cohere as artistic expression. Point of view is the start of the problem. Jack Hold's narrative, on the one hand, proceeds from the premise of providing a straight-up history of Lol Stein -- the heart-break of the abandonment by Richardson, the subsequent marriage to Bedford, the children and 'meticulous' home-making, the quirky attributes. But Jack's also giving himself license to embellish and create, stating 'it's better to rip open the tombs where Lol is feigning death than to fabricate mountains, create obstacles and rely on chance'. A little further he follows, 'I am always relying on hypotheses, which are in no way gratuitous...'. Perhaps, but at what point does the language tell more about Jack than Lol? 'I know Lol Stein in the only way I can, through love', he says. Exactement! By detailing what he believes is her sub-conscious, Jack is dually involved in mapping his own. As a result, the reader becomes unsure in his/her orientation to the characters and story. Add to this the recursive, reductive components expressed either as obsessive imaginings or elements of plot and there is a further unsettling. Lol keeps returning to the night at the Town Beach Casino, Jack to the hotel bedroom and the fields or rye. When Jack meets Lol in the tea room and she remarks that Jack 'can't bear' to be without Tatiana, we get this interior monologue, presumably from Jack: 'Flesh is being rent, is bleeding, is awakening. She is trying to listen to some inner commotion, fails to , is overwhelmed by the realization, however incomplete of her desire.' So we have the ambiguous antecedent of the first sentence, followed by Jack obsessing and speculating on Lol obsessing about her desire for Jack or is it Tatiana? Likewise, when Jack makes love to Tatiana in the hotel room, he seems thrilled by observing Lol watching them from the fields of rye; she doesn't realize -- or does she? -- her voyeurism is encapsulated by actor Jack turned observer, dual roles again. At one point, Jack describes to Lol his love-making to Tatiana and both become voyeurs together, with Lol finally asking 'Tatiana, with her head hidden beneath the sheet, she's not me, is she?' I expect romantic or erotic obsession is by defintion recursive and I get the idea that, in this 'menage a trois', the sub-conscious mind is hard at work blurring the boundaries of self and other. But, artistically, it is easier to create the dreamscape than the dreamer. I would be interested in hearing from from more readers like Rosemary on how much -- or little -- they are engaged with Jack, Lol and Tatiana as characters. For my part, Duras has no affection for them and as a result, the storytelling lacks the kind of individual detail that would make these themes of obsession more effective, especially in the context of an amorphous point of view.

Emily

I can feel a Marguerite Duras fixation coming on.While fairly impressed with her late novel L'amant de la Chine du nord , I wasn't completely drawn into Duras's milieu until David and I watched Hiroshima mon amour, the 1959 Alain Resnais film for which she wrote the screenplay. To put it bluntly, Hiroshima mon amour blew. me. away. The opening sequence reduced me to sobs, overlaying Emmanuelle Riva's and Eiji Okada's stark, dreamlike narration (a stylized argument, which at times seems almost to veer into poetic verse, about whether or not Riva's character has or has not "seen" the devastation of Hiroshima) with footage of said devastation and of the hospital and museum Riva's character mentions. And the film as a whole raised fascinating questions about authenticity, storytelling, trauma, and the ability of humans to connect and empathize. Since Duras' 1964 novella Le ravissement de Lol V. Stein shares many of these same preoccupations, I thought I would attempt to write about them together, even though I know that I will be overwhelmed with material!Both Hiroshima and Ravissement, then, are deeply concerned with the extent to which it is (im)possible to step inside another person's experience. In the opening scene of the film, Riva's character (known simply as "elle" or "her") makes a repeated claim to have witnessed the events of nuclear devastation in Hiroshima, not at first hand but through visits to bomb victims in the hospital, trips to the museum, and viewings of the newsreels. As she amplifies on her experiences, speaking in mesmerizing circuits of repeated words, Eiji Okada's character "lui"/"him" occasionally interrupts her to deny her authority: "Tu n'as rien vu à Hiroshima." ("You saw nothing at Hiroshima.") So did she? It's a complicated question. On one hand, some of her claims are quite radical: J'ai eu chaud, Place de la Paix. Dix mille degrés sur la Place de la Paix. Je le sais. La temperature du soleil sur la Place de la Paix - comment l'ignorer? I was hot in Peace Square. Ten thousand degrees in Peace Square. I know it. The temperature of the sun in Peace Square - how could you not know it? Obviously, this Frenchwoman can only "know" that the temperature in Peace Square reached ten thousand degrees in the way one knows a fact from a history textbook: with her brain rather than her body. Likewise there is a world of difference between visiting an interpretive museum exhibit, even an extremely well-constructed one, and "knowing" an event through first-hand knowledge either personal or cultural. On the other hand, her empathy just as obviously exceeds the theoretical: watching those newsreels and museum exhibits really has imbued her with some part of the horror of the situation. In fact, as a viewer watching the scenes of devastation ourselves, we are in the exact same situation. Resnais and Duras make us question Elle's claims to understanding, even as they put us in an extreme position of identification with her. After all, if I am sobbing as I watch this film (which I was), how can I fully dismiss the power of simulacrums to convey experience? As she herself acknowledges later on, we as outside observers are limited in our ability to both feel and act: "On peut toujours se moquer. Mais que peut faire d'autre un touriste, que justement pleurer?" / "You can always scoff. But what else can a tourist do, but weep?" Later on in the film, Riva's character is possessive about her own traumatic war-time experience; her Japanese lover can listen and feel pain, but he can't truly understand. Le ravissement de Lol V. Stein, too, questions the ability of any person to tell the story of another's trauma—or even to claim absolute certainty about what that trauma was in the first place. Lola Valerie Stein (self-styled Lol V.) remains a cypher throughout the novella, which is narrated by her eventual lover, Jacques Hold. Jacques meets Lol through another lover of his, Tatiana Karl, an old school friend of Lol's who was present on the night, ten years before, which directly preceded Lol's mental breakdown. Exactly what precipitated this breakdown remains a subject of contention throughout the novella: while it's clear that Lol and her fiancé both met an older woman that night, and that the fiancé left with said woman as dawn was breaking, Lol's emotions at each step of the evening are puzzling, as is her present relationship to the past. For example, Tatiana recalls that for most of the dance Lol didn't seem to mind her fiancé being enamored of another woman, sitting calmly throughout the evening until the couple left the ballroom without her. Was she ever in love with her fiancé? Was she in love with the woman who replaced her in his affections? Was she in love with some mental image of the couple together, and herself as an observer of their love? Was she teetering on the brink of mental disaster the whole time, and this night was merely the straw that broke the camel's back of her mind?Tatiana is invested in one version of past events, and Lol—uncommunicative, shocky, and prone to telling bizarre, easily-detectable lies—is of little use as a witness. Jacques himself is all too aware of his inability to fathom Lol's inner world; not only was he not present on the famous night of the ball, but Tatiana, who was there, disagrees about whether it's even the crucial event in Lol's past. She feels that Lol has always been missing some crucial component, that her "self" has always been somehow absent, and that the seeds of her breakdown were present since long before the night at T. Beach.      Je lui ai demandé si la crise de Lol, plus tard, ne lui avait pas apporté la preuve qu'elle se trompait. Elle m'a répeté que non, qu'elle, elle croyait que cette crise et Lol ne faisaient qu'un depuis toujours.     Je ne crois plus à rien de ce que dit Tatiana, je ne suis convaincu de rien.      I asked her if Lol's breakdown, later on, didn't prove to her that she had been wrong. She repeated that no, that she, she believed that this attack and Lol had always been one.     I no longer believe in anything Tatiana says, I'm not convinced of anything. Thus not only do we have competing accounts of what happened inside Lol while she watched her fiancé fall for another woman, we have a debate about whether it even matters. Tatiana and Jacques are also unsure of the degree to which Lol has recovered from her breakdown: the slick surfaces of her immaculately-maintained home and marriage seem to indicate "recovery," yet Tatiana at least is invested in the idea of Lol's continuing malady. And what is that malady in the first place? It becomes clear that Lol is, for some reason and in some way, obsessed with her past, but what is she remembering and experiencing when she thinks of it?This brings up another commonality between Ravissement and Hiroshima, which is a preoccupation with memory and forgetting, and the pain involved in inevitably forgetting something one had sworn to remember. In the film, Riva's character gestures at this idea with the statementDe même que dans l'amour, cette illusion existe, cette illusion de pouvoir jamais oublier, de même j'ai eu l'illusion devant Hiroshima, que jamais je n'oublierai. De même que dans l'amour. Just as in love, this illusion exists, this illusion of never being able to forget, I had the illusion when confronted with Hiroshima, that I would never forget it. Just as in love. But the inability to forget—or more accurately, the ability to never forget, to remember forever, is just that: an illusion. Even as these characters are haunted by an inescapable relationship to their past traumas (to the point where several people identify each other as synonymous with those traumas), what dwells inside them is not precisely "memory" but an ever-changing set of reference points combining past, present, potential and imaginary. When Lol moves back to the town of S. Tahla after ten years away, for example, her memories of the town seem to start out sharp, not having been added to much in the intervening years, but soon they become eroded through frequent applications of new experience. [E]lle commença à reconnaître moins, puis différement, elle commença à retourner jour après jour, pas à pas vers son ignorance de S. Tahla.      Cet endroit du monde où on croit qu'elle a vécu sa douleur passée, cette prétendue douleur, s'efface peu à peu de sa mémoire dans sa matérialité. Pourquoi ces lieux plutôt que d'autres? En quelque point qu'elle s'y trouve Lol y est comment une première fois. De la distance invariable du souvenir elle de dispose plus: elle est là. Sa présence fait la ville pure, méconnaissable. Elle commence à marcher dans le palais fastueux de l'oubli de S. Tahla. She began to recognize less, then differently, she began to return day after day, step by step towards her ignorance of S. Tahla.      This spot in the world where they say she lived her past grief, this alleged grief, is little by little erased from her memory by her corporeality. Why these places rather than others? Wherever Lol finds herself, it is as though she is there for the first time. She no longer positions herself at the unvarying remove of memory: she is there. Her presence renders the city pure, unknowable. She begins to walk in the sumptuous palace of forgetting S. Tahla. Thus being back in her home town erodes Lol's past knowledge of it, just as she seems unable to see again the shapes of her past self and her former fiancé when she revisits T. Beach at the end of the novel. Her attempts to reenact the past with a new cast of characters, and force it to provide her with something that was missing the first time around, are dream-like and fascinating, asking similar questions and evoking a similar mood to the relationship between "Elle" and "Lui" in Hiroshima mon amour. I am eager to read more Duras from this period; where should I start? Moderato Cantabile? L'après-midi de M. Andesmas? Recommendations very much welcome. In the meantime, both Le ravissement de Lol V. Stein and Hiroshima mon amour come very highly recommended.

Patrick

Pretty good, I guess, but not quite as good as The Ravishing of ROTFLMAO Stein.

Silver

This is a beautifully lyrical, haunting and somewhat bizarre little book which really does provide the reader with a very unique reading experince. I was spellbound by the story as it started to unweave itself. One of the things which I found most intriguing about this book is the narration style of it. The story forced upon Lol Stein a woman who has a young girl was jilted by her fiancee and remained obsessed with that one moment in her life. Though to the outward eye she has moved on with her life after going through a period in which it was said she had gone mad, she takes to watching people as she journeys back through her memoeries. All the while the story is being told by a narrator who in effect is watching Lol, thus the reader is drawn into the whole voyeuristic experince. As if the reader is peeking through a window or lurking in the shadows watching the strange life of the extraordinary Lol Stein.

Rebecca

Tale of a woman who loses her sanity when rejected. Duras tends to eroticise consciousness. But, the distinction of madness is love. "she had lived her early years as though she were waiting for something she might, but never did, become

Jay

I was really impressed by the first few chapters of this book, but after that... well, the writing made it difficult to follow. I like books that make me think or even one where I have to stop for a bit to consider, but I found myself re-reading pages I'd just read going "now who said this??" And yet... at times I really liked the narrator's way of telling the story. I liked when he would point out that he was trying to construct parts he couldn't know for sure. Probably what I need to do now (or someday kind of soon) is re-read the book. Now that I've worked through it once and understood some of the rougher spots, maybe I'd get a lot more from it.

Shaherzad ahmadi

I feel bad giving this book a 3/5. The prose is lyrical and very experimental; I recognize this as an excellent book in style. However, in terms of the story itself... I wish I could say it matched her prose; and I wish I could say that her prose was fully developed so that the reader could at least follow her train of thought. Her style reminds me in some ways of James Joyce's, but unfortunately she is less skilled in relaying this type of disjointed stream of consciousness. I had to read paragraphs multiple times because the ideas were so random and the conversations so inchoate. Also, the crux of the story, that Lol was jilted by her fiance for a married woman, wasn't that compelling. Ok, people get dumped and become extremely depressed as a result: how could this one event have affected her life so completely and people's opinion of her so dramatically?Half the book (narrated by Jack, Tatiana and eventually Lol's lover) is about Lol's long walks, which she spends consumed by the scene of her fiance falling in love with this married woman, wondering what would have happened if things had gone differently. And, perhaps in her obsession with the past as a detached and in control observer (as one is when reflecting on the past), she begins to affect her old friend Tatiana's relationship with her lover Jack. She watches them make love from a hidden vantage and dictates to Jack what she wants from his relationship with Tatiana. Except this part is only partially explained as Jack is totally smitten with Lol and he just sort of muses about her mystery the whole book rather than elaborate on this interesting trio-dynamic more thoroughly. What compels him to follow her orders? Why doesn't he ask Lol why she is demanding so much of his affair with Tatiana? Does it in some ways alleviate the pain, and give her the power she lacked, from the last triangle she was part of? Other interesting questions remain unanswered, or even casually ignored. Tatiana says that Lol's depression (after Lol's fiance abandoned her) was not a result of Lol's heartbreak but some other factor, a lack of heart as Tatiana puts it, something that had happened long ago to make her what she was: but this too, this enormous assertion on the part of Tatiana, is never discussed or even implied by Lol. What was wrong with Lol to begin with that made her susceptible to such insanity? Why did Tatiana feel Lol was never truly human? What is it that Lol is hiding? What did Lol mean that they were "wrong about the reasons"? We never know. These questions are skirted under the guise of Lol's perverse mystery. But honestly, it doesn't seem natural not to ask. Tatiana is the only character who demands answers; one would think the narrator, Jack, who purports to love her so intensely, would be curious to find these answers as well - but no, he is not, and thus the reader is never satisfied by the hints and implications that lead nowhere. It doesn't really make that much sense and in the end you don't understand any character at all - except for maybe Tatiana, who seems like the only one resembling a human, described with more form and fluidity than the others.Altogether, a weird book. I had read The Lover, and truly adored everything about it. This was kind of disappointing.

Dawn

In a word: hypnotic. Yet also, startling. This was recommended to me by a creative writing professor I had in college, after reading a short story I wrote involving a female protagonist who was similar to Lol. There are moments when, as one reviewer said, Marguerite Duras puts such a spell on the reader with the way she uses language, that the reader almost feels "drugged". It's a haunting, erotic novel of intersecting characters driven by loss, obsession and voyeurism. Lol is shattered by a trauma that leaves a cut so deep, she can never pick up the pieces and become a whole person. Instead, she lives the shadow of a real life and lives vicariously through her voyeurism of Jacques & Tatiana. Meanwhile, through a deft shift in perspective, the reader also gets to glimpse a man's obsession and addiction to an elusive, enigmatic, 'damaged' woman/personality. As I remember it, there is nothing erotic about the love scene between Jacques & Lol when it finally occurs; it is, in fact, so unerotic it's startling & slightly disturbing. While there is a palpable attraction between these two characters, I interpreted it as the final manifestation of Lol's inability to feel. She may be able to live vicariously through others, but she cannot, or will not, allow herself to feel, experience genuine pleasure or any genuine emotion for that matter. The pain of her past has paralyzed her emotionally. When I think of Lol Stein, the words that come to mind are, 'fragility', 'instability' and 'paralysis'. As I said earlier, it's a hypnotic character study of a life defined and structured by tragedy and its aftermath, yet also a novel delving into the elements of attraction, obsession and possession.

Suzanne Moore

Ever since her fiance left her for an older woman at a dance that was supposed to be a preliminary wedding celebration, I think Lol Stein began “walking” through life as a voyeur. She has been seeing her world through eyes of a outsider. In other words she is physically present, but not fully aware or participating in living her life. Obviously she sinks into depression after being jilted. Months later she is presumably rescued by the man she will marry, but this marriage turns out to be a loveless one. She sees herself in the role of wife and mother, but doesn't ever feel like it's who she is. Moving back to her hometown after being away for ten years strengthens the yearning she had for her first love who she has never forgotten. She takes to walking the streets downtown with hopes of running into him. Of course he no longer lives here, having moved away with the women he left her for. She does see an old friend, Tatiana, who happened to be her comfort the night her fiance disappeared. Talking with Tatiana, she learns that her friend, a married woman, is involved in an affair with Jack Hold (who narrates the story). She purposefully plans other solitary walks to coincide with Tatiana's rendezvous. It is now that her “self-voyeurism” (my own applied interpretation) is transferred to another. Lol, lies in a field of rye across from the building where Tatiana and Jack meet up and fixes her view on a window where she sees their silhouettes. It is Jack who notices her watching them and he makes it possible for her to see their tryst more clearly. Jack is definitely turned on by the thought of being watched and he begins to plan for a time he can get Lol alone. Lol and Jack eventually end up spending the night together in a strange town. Still Lol's “insanity” keeps her distant and unable to feel a connection. Her emotional baggage keeps her in a voyeuristic dream-like state. Jack tells the story of this scarred woman and leaves me with the impression that he is damaged in some way himself.Often when reading I recall a song that reminds me in some way of the story. With this book I kept hearing Bob Dylan's song “Love Sick.” These verses in particular complement the Ravishing of Lol Stein quite well … I’m walking through streets that are dead. Walking, walking with you in my head. My feet are so tired, my brain is so wired. And the clouds are weepingI see, I see lovers in the meadow. I see, I see silhouettes in the window. I watch them ’til they’re gone and they leave me hanging on … to a shadow.

Amanda

Beautiful imagery Wish I could read French.

karen

nope. i do not like marguerite duras. janet flanner, in the new yorker claims that her writing has a "shine like crystal." and that's probably true, if one is observing that it is as pointy and depthless as crystal, as chill and remote, as something that refracts emptily. ooooh duras BURN!!if this is a literary bodice ripper, i gotta say i prefer the crappy contemporary ones. this one isn't even intense with the taut tingling of repression, which also has its place and is something i can appreciate - it doesn't all have to be desperate passions and rending of garments, but this zombie vacuity does nothing for me - nothing nothing nothing. there is nothing at stake here, just people blinking emptily at each other, speaking words with no momentum behind them, frequently non sequiturs so it seems as though they are involved in separate conversations. lack of quotation marks so that when one character will reluctantly, languidly plop out a sentence, you sometimes don't even know which one is speaking, unless there is a back-and-forth, and then you can use context or whatever. but the one isolated word or phrase in a scene when two people are just sitting around existing, who knows who is speaking? who cares? and i am not just pouting because no one but me wanted to read zola for the literary smut portion of our rippings, i swear. i did not like The Lover when i read it, but i had hope nonetheless. this one sounded like it could be interesting. but the french have this habit of creating highly stylized works of art that leave me cold. why do they do that? very infuriating, frenchies...i know all the other rippers will have informed and intelligent things to say about this, and my frazzled and sweaty frustration will be coolly counteracted by more reasonable ladies (and a dude or two) with elegant and refined responses examining the psychology of characters such as these, and what duras is trying to accomplish be portraying them in this way, but i am a monster and i bust down the door and say "boring boring boring boring!!!"also, "boring!!"now i will go hide. ♥

Tom

The writing of Marguerite Duras reminded me of movies such as 'Festen' and 'Melancholia'. It seems detached from reality, empty even, and the more you read, the more the whole book seems to disappear. 'Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein' is not an easy book to read, but it is a very strong intellectual stimulus. We are talking about an author who wrote a book that had a clear meaning, but then decided to scratch out all the words that assured some clarity.We are talking about a character that is called Lol V. Stein (not the most sexy name for a character) who likes to be the ignored corner of a triangular relationship. We are also talking about trauma without the presence of pain. In fact, what is this book all about? Lol is left by her husband, but seems to find a sort of perverted pleasure in him taking off with another woman. She then tries to recreate this whole scenario by manipulating the lover of her best friend, who also happens to be the narrator.I'll come back to this review after I've analysed this book in my French class, but for now, all I can say is that usually I have strong feelings after finishing a book. Either very positive, very negative or very neutral. This book is like the somewhat creepy, silent kid that was always in your class, the faux pas that did have a certain charisma. Very strange, very intruiging.

Debra

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die group read.Reading this one for a group read. Why? I like torture? I don't know folks... yeah it's kinda dreamy and poetic, stream-of-consciousness writing... but it's boring. Does anything happen, I mean HAPPEN to these people? lol Ok... I'm going to finish it because I'm half-way through and it reads fast... but I'm yawning folks. Plus, I find I'm flipping back and forth trying to figure out who's saying what. Maybe something got lost in the translation, which is sadly so often true. Well... I finished the book. I can't say it really was a book I had to read before I died. Wonder why they call it the "ravishing" of Lol Stein. Not much ravishing going on with all the clandestine sex going on. lol

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