[ilds] [RG 2003 Justine 2]

James Gifford gifford at ualberta.ca
Fri Apr 6 13:04:07 PDT 2007


------ Forwarded Message
From: Sumantra Nag
Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003 21:00:39 -0400
To: <DURRELL at NEWS.CC.UCF.EDU>
Subject: [ILDS] ILDS:  Discussion Group--AQ2.  Nag.



__somewhere in those letters I recall Durrell saying, "I loathed Egypt." __

I have come across this observation. Also from my dim memory of the
correspondence with Miller, I seem to remember Durrell writing soon after
his arrival in Alexandria, and dewscribing the city as_a melting pot of
dullness_ or some such thing: the term dullness I seem to remember with some
certainty. In some critical work on the AQ, this first response to
Alexandria has been noted, with the critic (Fraser?, Joan Lagoudis Pinchin?)
then saying, that Durrell obviously changed his mind about Alexandria at a
later stage. 

Sumantra Nag
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Theirflosi at aol.com
  To: DURRELL at NEWS.CC.UCF.EDU ; sumantranag at sify.com ;
keller.isabelle at libertysurf.fr
  Cc: Theirflosi at aol.com
  Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2003 7:35 PM
  Subject: Plane Trees


  Re plane trees.  I don't want to bog down this discussion on some imagery
in the incipit, but only wish to make the small point that Durrell, whether
intentionally or not, has the ability to evoke a world and then to take it
away, make it disappear, or show its unsubstantial basis in memory and
language.  I thank Isabelle Keller for her vivid explanation of "plane
tree," which I have not had the pleasure of seeing in the flesh, as it were.
She's surely right in making sense of it and showing its wider implications.
My only problem with that, however, is the desolate scene Darley has set for
himself.  He sits on his windy, "bare promontory" and surveys his landscape
and past.  Perhaps there are plane trees "unpacking" in the distance, but in
the "flash" of "my mind's eye," I see those empty plains commonly associated
with barren Mediterranean islands.  Perhaps LD intends both, and that
contributes to the shimmering quality of his prose and poetry.  In Caesar's
Vast Ghost his opening description of Provence has that dual quality of
light and shadow:  "the icy contrast of sunblaze and darkness under the
ruffling planes" (p. 1).

  Re the use of biographical material.  I thank Sumantra Nag for the "prose
poem" excerpt from the Durrell-Miller correspondence, which should be given
great weight, using Isabelle's criterion, since it occurs during the writing
of AQ. Now, somewhere in those letters I recall Durrell saying, "I loathed
Egypt."  I wonder if he knew or meant what he was saying.  The Quartet would
seem to belie that statement.  But writers, as Isabelle points out, say many
things depending on a host of circumstances.  D. H. Lawrence comes to mind
-- and he was one of Durrell's patron saints -- the famous dictum:  "Never
trust the artist.  Trust the tale."

  Bruce Redwine




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