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The Rapture Of Lol V. Stein

The Letter, Issue 9, Spring 1997, Pages 37 - 46


Tony Hughes

The Rapture of Lol V. Stein was written by Marguerite Duras in 1964. Lacan wrote a short commentary[1] on the text in December 1965 - the only one he ever wrote on the work of a living author. As a consequence Duras' book became widely known.

Michelle Montrelet was the first psychoanalyst to comment on the novel, which she did in Seminar XII, Crucial Problems for Psychoanalysis.[2]

The Rapture of Lol V. Stein[3] is the story of a nineteen-year-old Jewish woman who has been engaged for six months to Michael Richardson. One evening she goes to a ball with him at the T. Beach Municipal Casino and during the course of the evening a mysterious woman - Anne-Marie Stretter - enters the ballroom accompanied by her daughter. Stretter is wearing a low-cut black dress and she and Richardson dance together and they are caught up 'in a passion that is as sudden as it is definitive'.[4] As Lol watches the excruciating scene unfold before her, she becomes hooked by it and it traumatises her. She is simultaneously ecstatic with happiness and beside herself with loss. The lovers leave the ballroom, watched by Lol and 'when she could see them no longer she fell to the ground in a dead faint'.[5]

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