cover image Blue Eyes, Black Hair

Blue Eyes, Black Hair

Marguerite Duras. Pantheon Books, $13.95 (117pp) ISBN 978-0-394-56320-6

The spare, hypnotic dialogue between lovers that Duras has deployed with brilliance elsewhere seems to travesty itself in this disquieting novel. The style is so elliptical as to be obscure, the characters so mannered that they fail to engage our concern. A man and a woman meet at a seaside hotel, where they remain to make love. The man, who wears makeup and kohl around his eyes, is attracted to the woman because her blue eyes and black hair remaind him of a male lover whom he mourns. The woman often covers her face with a black silk scarf. Now and then she slips off to meet another man. The lovers sob frequently, as they discourse on desire and death. The woman, who identifies herself as an actress, writer and teacher, remarks that she and the man are like figments in a book. Once the book is finished, they will be ""dissolved.'' At intervals an italicized passage in the text thrusts their situation into a darkened theater. An ``actor'' gives stage directions to the man and woman on reading their lines as if this was a drama and the readers were spectators. Aficionados of the French nouveau roman will respond to this slim book with more enthusiasm than the general reader. Renowned as author and screenwriter of Hiroshima mon amour, Duras received the 1986 Ritz Paris Hemingway Award for The Lover. (March)