This interview appeared as “‘À propos de Marguerite Duras’, par Michel Foucault et Hélène Cixous”, in Cahiers Renaud-Barrault 89, 8–22, 1975.
foucault I've been a little nervous about the idea of talking about Marguerite Duras since this morning. Whenever I've read her books or seen her films, they've always left — always leave — a very strong impression on me. However long it's been since I've read her, the presence of Marguerite Duras's work remains very intense — and yet, now that I come to talk about her I feel as if it's all gone. It's a kind of naked force that one just slides off, that slips through the fingers. The presence of this same shifting, slippery force, of this presence that at the same time runs away from you, is what keeps me from being able to talk about her, and no doubt also so attached to her.
cixous I felt much the same earlier on. I got out all of Marguerite Duras's texts that I've read several times and that I naively thought I knew so well. But one can't know Marguerite Duras; she won't be grasped [on ne peut pas la saisir]. I think that I know her, that I've read her, and then I realize that I've not “retained” anything. Perhaps that's what it is: there's a Duras effect, and this Duras effect is that something very powerful drains away.