The Ravishing of Lol Stein
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"The Ravishing of Lol Stein" Summary

By Marguerite Duras

fiction | 192 pages | Published in 2013

ISBN_13: 9780804151191
ISBN_10: 0804151199

Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A woman's life unravels after witnessing her fiancé dancing with another woman at a party.


"The Ravishing of Lol Stein" is a novel written by Marguerite Duras, a prominent French author known for her experimental and poetic writing style. Originally published in 1964, this book explores themes of love, memory, and identity through the perspective of its complex and enigmatic protagonist, Lol Stein. Duras' lyrical prose and introspective storytelling make "The Ravishing of Lol Stein" a mesmerizing read that delves into the depths of human emotions and the mysteries of the human psyche.

Brief Synopsis

Set in the small town of S. Thala, France, "The Ravishing of Lol Stein" tells the story of a young woman named Lol Stein and the unraveling of her life following a traumatic incident. The book is divided into three parts, each offering a different perspective on the events that shape Lol's existence.

In the first part, the readers are introduced to Lol Stein as a young girl, living a seemingly idyllic life and engaged to a man named Michael Richardson. However, during a ball, Lol witnesses Michael dancing intimately with another woman, which shatters her world. Unable to cope with the humiliation and betrayal, Lol experiences a mental breakdown and withdraws from society.

The second part of the novel jumps forward in time, revealing Lol's life after the incident. She is married to a man named Jean-Marie, and they have a child together. However, Lol remains haunted by her past and remains emotionally detached from her husband and child. Her longing for an unattainable love consumes her, as she becomes fixated on a man named Jacques Hold, who resembles Michael Richardson.

The final part of the novel takes place years later, when Lol returns to S. Thala for the wedding of her former lover, Tatiana Karl. Lol's presence at the wedding stirs up memories and emotions, as she confronts the ghosts of her past and attempts to find closure and understanding.

Main Events

Part 1: The BallPart 2: The MarriagePart 3: The Return to S. Thala
Lol witnesses Michael dancing with another womanLol marries Jean-Marie and has a childLol attends Tatiana's wedding
Lol experiences a mental breakdownLol becomes fixated on Jacques HoldLol reflects on her past and confronts her emotions
Lol withdraws from societyLol remains emotionally detached from her familyLol seeks closure and understanding

Main Characters

Lol Stein: The protagonist of the story, Lol is a complex and enigmatic woman who experiences a traumatic event during a ball and undergoes a mental breakdown. Throughout the novel, Lol struggles with her emotions, longing for unattainable love, and her search for identity and meaning in life.

Michael Richardson: Lol's former fiancé, Michael is a charismatic and alluring man who betrays her during the ball. He becomes a symbol of Lol's unfulfilled desires and obsession.

Jean-Marie: Lol's husband, Jean-Marie is a kind and understanding man who tries to support her despite her emotional detachment. He represents stability and normalcy in Lol's life.

Jacques Hold: A man who resembles Michael Richardson, Jacques Hold becomes the object of Lol's fixation. She becomes obsessed with him, hoping to recapture the feelings she once had for Michael.

Themes and Insights

Love and Obsession

One of the central themes in "The Ravishing of Lol Stein" is the exploration of love and obsession. Duras delves into the complexities of human emotions, portraying Lol's obsession with Michael and later Jacques Hold. The novel raises questions about the nature of love, the power of desire, and the destructive consequences of unrequited love.

Memory and Identity

Duras weaves the themes of memory and identity throughout the novel. Lol's traumatic experience at the ball shapes her identity and haunts her for years to come. The fragmented nature of memory is explored, as Lol grapples with the blurred lines between reality and imagination, past and present.

Social Conformity and Rebellion

The novel also touches upon the themes of social conformity and rebellion. Lol's withdrawal from society after the ball can be seen as an act of rebellion against societal expectations and norms. Duras challenges the idea of conforming to societal standards and explores the consequences of breaking free from those norms.

Reader's Takeaway

"The Ravishing of Lol Stein" is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged novel that delves into the depths of human emotions and the complexities of love and identity. Marguerite Duras' poetic prose creates a mesmerizing reading experience that lingers with the readers long after they have finished the book. This novel is a must-read for those who enjoy introspective and lyrical storytelling that explores the depths of the human psyche.


"The Ravishing of Lol Stein" is a captivating novel that explores themes of love, memory, and identity through the enigmatic protagonist, Lol Stein. Marguerite Duras' evocative writing style and introspective storytelling make this book a compelling read that delves into the complexities of human emotions. With its thought-provoking themes and lyrical prose, "The Ravishing of Lol Stein" is a literary masterpiece that will leave readers pondering the nature of love and the mysteries of the human psyche.

The Ravishing of Lol Stein FAQ

  1. What is 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' about?

    The novel follows the story of Lol Stein, a young woman who is abandoned by her fiance during a ball. The book explores the psychological consequences of this event on Lol's life and her subsequent relationships.

  2. Who is the author of 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein'?

    The author of 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' is Marguerite Duras.

  3. Is 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' a work of fiction?

    Yes, 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' is a novel and a work of fiction.

  4. When was 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' first published?

    'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' was first published in 1964.

  5. What genre does 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' belong to?

    'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' belongs to the genre of literary fiction.

  6. Is 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' a popular book?

    While not as widely known as some other works, 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' has gained a dedicated following and critical acclaim.

  7. Are there any film adaptations of 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein'?

    Yes, there is a film adaptation of 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' titled 'Lol V. Stein,' directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau.

  8. What themes are explored in 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein'?

    Some of the themes explored in 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' include love, desire, memory, identity, and the role of women in society.

  9. Is 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' a challenging read?

    Some readers may find 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' challenging due to its nonlinear narrative and introspective style. However, it is also considered a rewarding and thought-provoking read.

  10. Is 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' part of a series?

    No, 'The Ravishing of Lol Stein' is not part of a series. It is a standalone novel.