Abahn Sabana David by Marguerite Duras
original title – Abahn Sabana David
Translator – Kazim Ali
Source – title
So a new translation into English from one of the best known French woman writers Marguerite Duras is of course a good choice for Woman in translation month. Duras is best known for her novel The lover which I reviewed six years ago . Duras early novels were quite plain and it was to mid way in her career she decide to become part of the french Noveau roman movement , a movement which the writer tries to write a new novel in a new style every time they write a novel.
She is small and slim, wearing a long black dress. Her companion is of medium build, wearing a coat lined with white fur. “I’m Sabana , “she says “this is David. We’re here, from Staadt .”
The man walks slowly towards them.He smiles
“take off your coats.” he says “Please sit.”
They do not answer. They remain near the door
They do not look at him
IThis first meeting between Sabana David and Abahn maybe is a warning for what is to come .
The book takes part over the course of one night and involves four characters . David and Sabana have come to Guard Abahn (A jew) but also under the orders of their boss the cringo. Then later in the evening a fourth man called also Abahn appears after this point the first Abahn is mainly called the Jews by Sabana who is talking about him as David is asleep and she is worried that The Jew will turn on them.Over the course of the night all the problems of the 20th century from Soviet to Nazis have been discussed by the group. Leading to what they are all doing there what their positions where with in the group and why they have been sent a sort of questioning of meanings and values.Also what happens when Abahn become the Jew when the second Abahn appear the change sparks a change in how he is spoken about !
“Which forest ?” ask Abahn
Tears fall from Sabina’s eyes. She thinks on it
“You don’t know what’s beyond here,” says Abahn. “Where is the forest ?”
she searches her thoughts.
“Where I don’t know. We have to talk about it.”
“The wild forest,” says the Jew.
“Yes” she says, pausing.”Where is it ?”
“Deep within Staadt” says the Jew.
She isn’t crying anymore. She looks at the Jews once more.Her gaze has become somber again, somber and blue.
The forest is in Davids mind as well ” Says the Jew
This talk of a forest for the Jews made me think of the words the Nazis used to disappear Jews inWW2
This is a classic bit of Noveau roman. Duras has drawn on Theatre of the absurd for this piece I was reminded so much of the works of Pinter in particular the birthday party where two characters turn up at a characters house and through the night discuss the power and use of power. This is one of those piece that show power and the abuse of it like in this case the fact Sabana and David have been sent for a dual purpose from the Cringo to Abahn in the Staadt these terms can be interchange with a number of places and political parties within the 20th century. This is what we are drawn to think by the way Duras has apart from the dialogue drawn the bare bones of a story over this work leaving us the reader to fill in the parts unspoken or unsaid ourselves. A powerful Novella from one of the best French writers of the 20th century.
Have you read any more books by Marguerite Duras ?