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Continuity or rupture?: remapping the end of empire in Marguerite Duras’s ‘Cycle Indien’

Waters, J. (2024) Continuity or rupture?: remapping the end of empire in Marguerite Duras’s ‘Cycle Indien’. In: Arens, S., Frith, N., Lewis, J. and Vince, R. (eds.) Colonial Continuities and Decoloniality in the French-Speaking World: From Nostalgia to Resistance. Francophone Postcolonial Studies, 14. Liverpool University Press, Liverpool. ISBN 9781802078862

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This chapter explores how colonial India is represented in Marguerite Duras’s ‘Indian Cycle’ of novels and films from the 1960s and 1970s – a period which witnessed the dramatic and violent loss of France’s empire – and how this contemporaneous context inflects the author’s retrospective representations. By resituating Duras’s supposedly ‘false and musical’ Asian place-names within their real-life geographic and historic contexts, the chapter investigates whether her literary and filmic representations of ‘les Indes’ reflect a nostalgic continuation of her creative engagement with past French imperialism – so confirming Kate Marsh’s assertion that ‘perceptions of territorial loss sustained continuities which informed subsequent manifestations of French imperialism and are evident today in metropolitan representations and memories of empire’ - or whether instead the violent loss of empire at the time of writing effects a radical, stylistic and ideological rupture. This rereading contests dominant scholarly claims that Duras’s ‘Indian’ works are divorced from the historical, geographic realities of French colonisation and anti-colonial violence. It also demonstrates how the work of one author and film-maker can revealingly reflect often-silenced continuities, ambiguities and ruptures in broader French society’s retrospective relationship with its lost empire.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Languages and Cultures > French
ID Code:109128
Publisher:Liverpool University Press

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