Agatha and the Limitless Reading (Marguerite Duras, 1981)


“You’re making it up.”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

Going from the inside out: L’Homme Atlantique, a perfect film1, as microcosm of Agatha et les lectures illimitées, a near-perfect film, as microcosm of Agatha, the bare-bones structure, a theatre script by Duras. There’s always a back and forth. But, the skeleton of the piece is not just the theatre script, but the obfuscation of biographical elements, whether or not those elements are “true to life”… The degree zero lies somewhere beyond, outside.

In reading Duras, her texts always carry a specific tenor: the text registers as being delivered in a hushed and urgent sense of desperation. But, simultaneously, this desperation feels defeated. As if the text knows that there’s so little that can happen at the end. The narration in Duras’s films always confirms what the text has already carried on the page alone. But if there’s so little that can happen at the end, how can the reading here be “Limitless”?

It’s easy. The text is without end. Desire is without end. The sea, above all, is without end. Limitless.

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