Suite for Barbara Loden
by Nathalie Léger
translated by Natasha Lehrer & Cécile Menon 


“I believe there is a miracle in Wanda,” wrote Marguerite Duras of the only film American actress Barbara Loden ever wrote and directed. “Usually, there is a distance between representation and text, subject and action. Here that distance is completely eradicated.” It is perhaps this “miracle”—the seeming collapse of fiction and fact—that has made Wanda (1970) a cult classic, and a fascination of artists from Isabelle Huppert to Rachel Kushner to Kate Zambreno. For acclaimed French writer Nathalie Léger, the mysteries of Wandalaunched an obsessive quest across continents, into archives, and through mining towns of Pennsylvania, all to get closer to the film and its maker. Suite for Barbara Loden is the magnificent result.

Moving contrapuntally between biography and autofiction, film criticism and anecdote, fact and speculation, Suite for Barbara Loden is a stunning meditation on knowledge and self-knowledge, on the surfaces of life and art, and how we come to truth—a kind of truth—not through facts alone but through acts of the imagination.

Suite for Barbara Loden is one part of a triptych of books by Nathalie Léger that includes Exposition and The White Dress.