Homage to Marguerite Duras, on ‘Le ravissement de Lol V. Stein’ : translated by Peter Connor : in Marguerite Duras, Marguerite Duras : 1987 : San Francisco CA : City Light Books, p122-129, translated from Cahiers Renauld-Berrault (1965)
Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net /lacan (December 1965)
Bilingual www.Freud2Lacan.com /Lacan [translated by Peter Connor] (81. Homage to Marguerite Duras, on Le ravissement de Lol V. Stein (Hommage fait à Marguerite Duras, du Ravissement de Lol V. Stein)) & /Lacan [translated by Adrian Price] (82. Homage to Marguerite Duras, on Le ravissement de Lol V. Stein (Hommage fait à Marguerite Duras, du Ravissement de Lol V. Stein)—Another recent translation)
Biligual, translated by Adrian Price from Autres Écrits (2001), as Homage done to Marguerite Duras, for the ravishment of Lol V. Stein, published in The Lacanian Review, Issue 13, Fall 2022, p16-29 : See www.LacanianWorksExchange.net /texts by request
In French :
Published as ‘Hommage fait à Marguerite Duras, du Ravissement de Lol V. Stein’ : Cahiers Renauld-Berrault : 1965 : 52 : p7-15
The front page of Cahiers Renauld-Berrault is available here.
– Ornicar ? revue du Champ freudien no. 34, juillet-sept. 1985, p7-13
-Published at École Lacanienne (pas tout Lacan) : here http://www.ecole-lacanienne.net/pastoutlacan60.php & available http://www.ecole-lacanienne.net/documents/1965-12-00.doc (5 p.)
– Published in Autres Écrits : 2001 : Jacques Lacan as Hommage fait à Marguerite Duras, du ravissement de Lol V. Stein. p191 – 198
It is emphasised that the 1965 publication was during Jacques Lacan’s lifetime & would have been approved by him. The 2001 publication was 20 years after Jacques Lacan’s death.
-Lacan refers to this text in Homage to Lewis Carroll : 31st December 1966 : Jacques Lacan
– The intention is to transfer all posts from www.LacanianWorks.net to this website, www.LacanianWorks.org. Should any still be in the queue, then go to https://web.archive.org and type in lacanianworks.net – go to the calendar and pick a date or go to https://oldweb.today or contact Julia Evans.
-P124 Quote : Let me assure whoever might read these lines by the dimming or rising footlights—indeed, from those future shores where Jean-Louis Barrault, through his Cahiers, would harbour the unique conjunction of the theatrical act—that the thread I will be unraveling takes its bearings at every moment, and to the letter, from the ravishing of Lol V. Stein; and furthermore, that work going on today at my school certainly crosses paths with it. Moreover, I do not so much address myself to this reader as I draw upon his inmost being in order to practice the knot I unravel.
Footnote 2 : This article first appeared in the Cahiers Renault-Barrault, December 1965. (TN) JE notes, See the front page of the book above. There is an article by Jean-Louis Barrault, though Lacan may be referring to the whole text.
-P125-126 Quote : I teach that vision splits itself between the image and the gaze, that the first model for the gaze is the stain, from which is derived the radar that the splitting of the eye offers up to the scopic field.
The gaze spreads itself as a stroke on the canvas, making you lower your own gaze before the work of the painter.
Of that which requires your attention one says, “ça vous regarde:” this looks at you.
But rather, it is the attention of that which is regarding you that has to be obtained. For you do not know the anguish of what gazes at you without, however, regarding you.
It is this anguish that takes hold of Jacques Hold when, from the window of the cheap hotel where he awaits Tatiana, he discovers, stretched out at the edge of the rye field before him, Lol.
-P126 Translator’s note : For an understanding of the function of the stain in Lacan’s theory of the gaze, see his “The Split between the Eye and the Gaze” in The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, trans. Alan Sheridan, 1977 p67-78. See Seminar XI – 19th February 1964 in Seminar XI The Four Fundamental Concepts (1963-1964) : from 15th January 1964 : Jacques Lacan, www.LacanianWorks.org /Lacan (January 1964)
– The historical case of Marguerite, from Jean Allouch’s book, ia published in French only at www.Freud2Lacan.com /Lacan (6. Historique du cas de Marguerite from Marguerite ou l’ Aimée de Lacan by Jean Allouch) From, Marguerite, ou l’Aimée de Lacan by Jean Allouch, Epel Éditions 1990. An internet translation of the Front Cover
In 1986, the psychoanalyst Didier Anzieu confirmed that his mother had been Aimée, the woman whose madness Lacan wrote about in his thesis. Thanks to this identification, names could emerge as if from the shadows, places and dates took their place; thus opening up the possibility of a finally critical reading of the only clinical monograph ever written by Lacan. The book contains the documents of the period. It also contains the Allouch/Anzieu correspondence that accompanied the writing of the book. The last word goes to Anzieu in his postface.
– From: ‘Every hour a glass of wine’ – the female writers who drank
The long list of male alcoholic authors is well known, but what about their literary sisters? Olivia Laing looks back on the great female writers who sought refuge in the bottle and salvation on the page
By Olivia Laing : The Guardian : Friday 13 June 2014 14.00 BST or published in the Saturday Review Section on 14th June 2014
Quote: If you write a book about alcohol and male writers, as I did, the one question you’ll be asked more than any other is: what about the women? Are there any alcoholic female writers? And are their stories the same, or different? The answer to the first question is easy. Yes, of course there are, among them such brilliant, restless figures as Jean Rhys, Jean Stafford, Marguerite Duras, Patricia Highsmith, Elizabeth Bishop, Jane Bowles, Anne Sexton, Carson McCullers, Dorothy Parker and Shirley Jackson. Alcoholism is more prevalent in men than women (in 2013, the NHS calculated that 9% of men and 4% of women were alcohol-dependent). Still, there is no shortage of female drinkers; no lack of falling-down afternoons and binges that stretch sweatily into days. Female writers haven’t been immune to the lure of the bottle, nor to getting into the kinds of trouble – the fights and arrests, the humiliating escapades, the slow poisoning of friendships and familial relations – that have dogged their male colleagues? … And how about society’s responses, particularly in the lubricated, tipsy 20th century; the golden age, if one can call it that, of alcohol and the writer?
In her 1987 book Practicalities, the French novelist and film-maker Marguerite Duras says many shocking things about what it means to be a woman and a writer. One of her most striking statements is about the difference between male and female drinking – or rather the difference in how the two are perceived. “When a woman drinks,” she writes, “it’s as if an animal were drinking, or a child. Alcoholism is scandalous in a woman, and a female alcoholic is rare, a serious matter. It’s a slur on the divine in our nature.” Ruefully, she adds a personal coda: “I realised the scandal I was creating around me.”
She’d been an alcoholic, she figured, from the moment of her first drink. Sometimes she managed to stop for years at a time, but during her bingeing periods she’d go all-out: start as soon as she woke up, pausing to vomit the first two glasses, then polishing off as many as eight litres of Bordeaux before passing out in a stupor. “I drank because I was an alcoholic,” she told the New York Times in 1991. “I was a real one – like a writer. I’m a real writer, I was a real alcoholic. I drank red wine to fall asleep. Afterwards, Cognac in the night. Every hour a glass of wine and in the morning Cognac after coffee, and afterwards I wrote. What is astonishing when I look back is how I managed to write.”
What is also astonishing is how much she managed to write, and how fine most of it is, rising coolly above the sometimes dire conditions of production. Duras wrote dozens of novels, among them The Sea Wall, Moderato Cantabile and The Ravishing of Lol Stein. Her work is elegant, experimental, impassioned, incantatory and visually striking – almost hallucinatory in its appeal to the senses, its rhythmic force. A forerunner of the nouveau roman, she dispensed with the conventions of character and plot, the heavy furniture of the realist novel, at the same time retaining an almost classical austerity – a clarity of style that resulted from obsessive redrafting.
Duras’s childhood was marked by fear, violence and shame: a common enough concatenation in the early life of the addict. She was born Marguerite Donnadieu (Duras is a pen name) in 1914 in what was then Saigon to French parents, both of whom were teachers. When she was seven, her father died, leaving the family in abject poverty. Her mother saved for years to buy a farm, but was cheated on the price, buying land that was regularly inundated by the sea. Both Marguerite’s mother and her elder brother beat her. She remembered hunting for birds in the jungle to cook and eat, and swimming in a river that would fill with the corpses of miscellaneous creatures that had drowned upstream. At school, she had a sexual relationship – seemingly encouraged by her family for financial reasons – with a much older Chinese man. Later, in France, she married, had a son with someone else, made films, and lived and wrote with a singleminded intensity. Her drinking worsened as the decades passed, stopping and starting, gaining traction, until at the age of 68 she was diagnosed with cirrhosis and forced to dry out – a terrifying experience – at the American hospital in Paris.
Not many writers manage to get sober and those who do often suffer a decline in output: testament not so much to the power of alcohol as a creative stimulant as to its role in destroying brain function, obliterating memory and playing havoc with the ability to formulate and express thought in former alcoholics. But Duras wrote one of her best and certainly most famous novels two years after she stopped drinking. The Lover tells the story of a 15-year-old French girl in Indochina who has an erotic relationship with – yes – a much older Chinese man. Much of the book was drawn from the violence and degradation from which Duras had emerged.
As later published versions make clear, she was capable of returning again and again to this primal scene of childhood, redrawing it in an almost infinite variety of colours: sometimes erotic and romantic, sometimes brutal and grotesque. Retelling the same stories; going back repeatedly to the substance that she knew was destroying her: these repetitive acts, some generative and some profoundly destructive, made the critic Edmund White wonder if Duras was not in the grips of what Freud had called the repetition compulsion. “I’m acquainted with it, the desire to be killed. I know it exists,” she once told an interviewer, and it is this intensity, this absolute and uncompromising vision, that sets her work apart. At the same time, this statement seems to shine a light on how she used alcohol: as a way of giving in to her own masochism, her suicidal ideation, while simultaneously anaesthetising herself from the savagery she saw at work everywhere, filling the world.
Duras’s nightmarish childhood raises the question of origins, of what causes alcohol addiction and whether it is different for men and women. Alcoholism is roughly 50% hereditable, a matter of genetic predisposition, which is to say that environmental factors such as early life experience and societal pressure play a considerable role. Picking through the biographies of alcoholic female writers, one finds again and again the same dismal family histories that are present in the lives of their male counterparts, from Ernest Hemingway to F Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams to John Cheever.