How Marguerite Duras’ breakthrough novel changed a Hong Kong author’s life

What Media Says


About Xu Xi,
Written by Richard Lord, and was originally published in South China Morning Post,
May 27, 2018


With its minimal plot, spare dialogue, formal structure and vast unspoken well of bubbling sexual tension, French author and screenwriter Marguerite Duras’ breakthrough novel, Moderato Cantabile (1958), tells of a rich woman repeatedly discussing a recent murder with one of her husband’s former employees, and the pair not quite having an affair. Hong Kong novelist Xu Xi explains how it changed her life.

“I read the book when I was 18 or 19, in about 1972, during an intermediate French class at university. At that time, I could read some French. It was the most astonishing piece of literature I’d ever read. It reveals the way a woman thinks and it’s very sexual. The repression is overtly expressed.”

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