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Re-visioning one's selves: mirror reflections in the autobiographical works of Marguerite Duras

Harthen, Samantha (2007) Re-visioning one's selves: mirror reflections in the autobiographical works of Marguerite Duras. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis explores the construction of the central figure of a cycle of four works relating to Marguerite Duras' adolescence in Indochina: Un Barrage contre le Pacifique, L'Eden Cinéma, L'Amant, and L'Amant de la Chine du Nord. In these texts, biographical fact - the conventional foundation of autobiographical writing – is shown to be mutable, as Duras (re)creates and re-visions the past and self in question. The plurality of Duras' textual history suggests that the central figure's construction does not lie, as we might have anticipated, in a performative reading of her past. A new and alternative explanation for the central figure's construction is proposed: namely, that she is described by a series of mirror reflections within, between, and beyond the texts. The thesis is divided into four sections. Chapter I draws upon psychoanalytical and feminist theories to introduce the notion of mirror reflections in intra- and extra-textual contexts, with particular reference to interpersonal relationships, textual devices and reader involvement. Chapter II examines the deliberate alteration of the central figure's image and reflection, discussing questions of power, performance, and (self-) objectification. Chapter III focuses on the interaction between writing and written selves, on the re-visioning of self and history, and questions the 'autobiographical' status of these texts. Chapter IV suggests that the four accounts act as intertextual mirrors, forming contradictory reflections that profoundly shape the reading experience by destabilising any previously confirmed sense of the textualised selfhood. The iterative (dis)establishment of the written self is also explored in relation to Duras' perception of writing as a process that is concurrently creative, destructive and chaotic. It is concluded that the mirror trope is indeed useful in describing the construction of the central figure of these texts, yet it brings the reader no closer to locating the central self and her past in a form that is neither plural nor provisional.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:2007
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:29

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