In these notebooks one can observe a nascent writer at work, someone compelled to write in order to make sense of her thoughts and experiences; “the words to describe my feelings seem to me non-existent . . . . I would like to take distance from [my memories], push back their absorbing reality”. Duras is most insightful on motherhood, both her own experience of it and her relationship with her mother. Her account of the death of her first child is retold in two forms: it appears as a short story and as a dialogue between herself and one of the (nun) nurses. We see how one literary style can trump another, as the conversation form presents an especially devastating portrait – “Here, we burn the dead babies. Now you know. Sleep” / “Why did you tell me that? You could have lied, you told me because I said earlier that you could stuff your prayers. You should never have told me that”. Written as dialogue, the experience is even more stark; all one reads is the blunt exchange between two people as the world it existed in is kept out, left as a blank to focus our attention on the horror of the experience and Duras’s cold treatment at the hands of the nuns.