Paris, Gallimard, 1950.
12mo [189 x 117 mm] of 315 pp, (2) ll. Preserved in the original wrappers, untrimmed.
First edition of one of Marguerite Duras’ most important novels, the one that revealed her to the general public.
Precious deluxe copy, n°15, one of the 38 numbered copies on vélin pur fil Lafuma-Navarre, the only large paper.
Begun in 1947, the novel Un barrage contre le Pacifique was published three years later, in 1950. It was written after Marguerite Duras had divorced her first husband and remarried Dionys Mascolo, from whom she had a child during this period. It is therefore between the education of Jean, her infant son, and her new love story that she writes this fresco inspired by the situation she experienced as a young woman.
The action is set in French Indochina, and involves a mother and her two children Joseph and Suzanne living on an unprofitable plantation and trying to survive on various trades. The novel tells the story of the difficult life of what has been called “the little whites” compared to the “big ones”, rich planters, city hunters, and members of the colonial bourgeoisie, traders or financiers. And, finally, above all this world, omnipotent and prevaricating to the detriment of the poorest whites, the civil servants of the colonial administration who live only on prebends and extortion.
The mother and her children can only live at the limits of the colonial society and in the immediate vicinity of the villages where the Indochinese live in absolute destitution and at the mercy of all diseases, the cruelty of the tigers and the blind and murderous force of the ocean tides.
The novel “un barrage contre le pacifique” is, by its writing, both the last of those which made Marguerite Duras a recognized and published writer, and already the first of those which will establish her reputation as a modern novelist.
A perfect very pure copy preserved in the original wrappers as published.