From scream to silence: characters’ voices in Un barrage contre le Pacifique and L’Amant by Marguerite Duras
Un Barrage contre le Pacifique and L’Amant by Marguerite Duras are novels based on the same fictional scheme, but which differ in their narration mode. Comparing the two books, it is possible to find a series of thematic references whose functions differ in each novel. In order to give a closer description of the nature of these differences, we decided to analyse how the narrator presents communication events, especially the ones linked with vocal means referring to speech (we call “paraverbal didascalia” the segments describing the prosodic features of the characters’ speech). In this perspective, thematic similarities between the two novels appear in the contrast in speech categories (within this group there are also sensible contrasts between screams and murmurs) and speech pauses. This kind of primitive semantic contrast can nevertheless fulfil several functions in the narration. In Un Barrage contre le Pacifique, paraverbal didascalia should be considered above all as a structural means building the world presented in the novel. In L’Amant, they also have a secondary function which is to prove the relation between the two novels, but mainly to give directions on the proper way to interpret the novel’s theme.