As a teenager, Marguerite Duras lived with her mother and two siblings in French Indochina. It was the 1930’s and young Marguerite was trying to identify with the world around her. Her family was poor, and although political and racial tensions existed on extreme levels, she had an affair with a wealthy Chinese man. This affair was later written about several times during her life.
At the age of seventy she wrote The Lover, and tells the story one last time. Why? Maybe, she never felt she gave the story the depth, the love, the hate, the spectrum of emotions it deserved. Maybe, because she never felt she told it right.
And I like that. To know that someone as accomplished as Marguerite Duras continued to perfect her craft, her story, throughout her life is inspirational to me as a writer.
So why Crazy Mother? Marguerite Duras had a tense relationship with her mother, as I had with my own. Although our mother-daughter relationships were quite different, I believe that for our own reasons, most of us can appreciate the range of emotions that are represented in the following quote:
I believe that always, or almost always, in all childhoods and in all the lives that follow them, the mother represents madness. Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we've ever met. –Marguerite Duras
I am a mother. Do my children feel the same way about me? I read this to my oldest son, who laughed and said, “Yes, that sounds about right.” I then read it to my youngest who said, “Of course we think you’re crazy, but we love you just the way you are.” That was all I needed to hear.
Throughout our lives we are assigned many titles: Mother, Daughter, Student, Professor, Author. However, we don’t always choose to own or perfect each title, often, we only choose to identify ourselves with the ones that we consider positive attributes. I’m not sure I agree with that. I am much more than just the good, the accomplished, the positive. I hope when I am seventy years old, I have the courage to look back and redefine, redescribe, rewrite the stories of my life that have been most influential, whether they be good, bad or ugly. Because yes, I am a little crazy, and I’m okay with that.