By Gene Lyons
January 15, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

Long before its current soft-core movie incarnation, Marguerite Duras’ The Lover was an acclaimed French novel in which an older woman, ravaged by time, recalls her first taste of love during her Saigon adolescence in the 1920s. The English translation, by Barbara Bray, is lean, beautiful, sensuous, and intelligently erotic. Say au revoir, Madonna. A