Writing the Shadow: War and Childhood in Marguerite Duras’s ‘Cahiers de la guerre’

Renate K Gunther


Marguerite Duras’s Cahiers de la guerre (Wartime Notebooks) were written between 1943 and 1949 and first published in France in 2006. Two key aspects of Duras’s writing which appear for the first time in these notebooks are her pre-occupation with her childhood in Indochina, on the one hand, and her experiences during the Second World War and the occupation of France, on the other hand. This essay explores the dual representation of war and childhood in Cahiers de la guerre, in terms of the relationship between identity and alterity that underpins both narratives. Drawing on the work of the psychoanalyst Jessica Benjamin, the author contends that Duras’s construction of this relationship, initially founded on an exclusive and oppositional model of identification, is gradually transformed into intersubjective recognition. It is argued that this transition is possible precisely because of Duras’s process of integration of her own inner ‘otherness’ and thus her ability to ‘write the shadow’, both individually and collectively.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/res.v5n4p54

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Review of European Studies   ISSN 1918-7173 (Print)   ISSN 1918-7181 (Online)

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