To celebrate Marguerite Duras’ centennial, Lincoln Center is showing a retrospective of her films. It was also 45 years ago last month that Lincoln Center presented the first of her films ever to be shown in America. The film was known in English as Destroy She Said.
I was a grad student, writing my dissertation on her work at the time.
It was September 1969, France was still reverberating from its ’68 rebellion, and the film – slow, no action, political allusions,” etc. – was so different from any American entertainment that many people walked out of that showing.
A day or two later, I translated for her during a meeting at Columbia University and then hosted her at Harvard, where we projected the same film at Carpenter Center. I translated the questions and answers during the discussion, not yet used to such long answers that make you forget the beginning by the time you reach the end of the sentences. She spent around a week at my house in Cambridge, joined after a few days by her son Outa.
The most unusual things I remember about her visit were her insistence that we American students rebel against society and – on a whole different register – her delighted astonishment at our grey squirrels!