Marguerite Duras’s Experiments with Culinary Matter
This chapter examines the connection between literary experimentation and feminine matter/material experiences through the treatment of food, cooking and gastronomy in two of Marguerite Duras’s early novels, Les Petits Chevaux de Tarquinia (1953) and Moderato Cantabile (1958), in which the modernist author explores ways to dismantle traditional narratives and gender roles. In these novels, experimenting with food and gastronomy creates the possibility for a different literary discourse, a form of feminine kitchen talk, that materializes female experiences in the text. Echoing later autobiographical accounts, Duras’s experimentation with culinary matter is a central tenet of her depiction of the feminine in relation to the body and affect, but also of Duras’s own literary practice, a topic still surprisingly under-studied. Attending to the peculiar position of food in Duras’s oeuvre is an invitation to rethink not only the relationship between language and the real, but also between women and matter in modernism.
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