Elements of a Style
That Marguerite Duras has produced “one of the most recognizable styles of contemporary literature”1 has often been noted. Something more rarely scrutinized is the “how” of her achievement. I caution that the following presentation of some of Duras’ discursive strategies does not constitute an exhaustive inventory. Rather, it offers examples of recurrent structures, techniques, and metalinguistic themes characteristic of her work. I do not conduct a traditional stylistic enquiry. Dominique Noguez’s article2 is valuable for its meticulous survey of certain rhetorical figures characteristic of Duras’ writing. Yet the description of traditional figures of speech can not render many of the most significant particularities of a prose full of configurations “not to be found in Fontanier’s or any other repertory of tropes,” as Christiane Makward objects in critique of Noguez,3 because it presupposes the very unitary discourse Duras deconstructs. It subsumes her writing within the classical structures of language posited as genderless and universal, which has historically meant male, and misses her pointedly gendered critique and rearticulation.
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