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Fictionalising Trauma

The Aesthetics of Marguerite Duras’s India Cycle

Sirkka Knuuttila

With Marguerite Duras being the most disputed French artist after World War II, symbolising trauma represents the most problematic crux of contemporary trauma research. This book brings together these troublesome issues by way of integrating Duras’s aesthetics and the challenge of working through major historical trauma. Starting from the concept of an embodied mind as developed in current social neuroscience, the study illuminates the stylistic devices of the famous India Cycle that arose from Duras’s relentless struggle with the trauma of French colonialism. It reveals how converting trauma into fiction can become a powerful emotional strategy for surviving traumatic events, which may provoke necessary changes in our cultural memory through collective sharing.


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Conclusion 265


265 Conclusion As a subject of academic research, Marguerite Duras’s complete India Cycle (1964−1976) has been studied several times during the last three decades. From among the seven works of the cycle, these examinations have focused mainly on the first two novels, Le ravissement de Lol V. Stein (1964) and Le Vice-consul (1966), as well as the film India Song (1974). In contrast, the small but important novel L’amour (1971), the play India Song, as well as the films La Femme du Gange (1973) and Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert (1976) have attracted minor attention. Because I have chosen as my theoretical lens the concept of trauma, specifically the historical trauma of colonialism, I have similarly focused on the first two novels, but have also examined the enigmatic L’amour with the help of the script of La Femme du Gange. To complete my thematic exploration I have analysed the interplay of image and sound in the film India Song, whereas Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert is left for further cinematic investigation. My intention has been to expand the stylistic perspective on Duras by approaching the India Cycle from a postcolonial viewpoint in terms of narratology, to which an emotion-focused cognitive theory serves as an essential background. Since I find Western psychonanalytic feminisms too reductive with regard to the postcolonial issues of racialisation, genderisation and social class, I have claimed that Duras’s style cannot be simply equated with a ‘white’ écriture feminine or female...

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