[ilds] [RG 2003 Justine 2]

James Gifford gifford at ualberta.ca
Fri Apr 6 13:11:03 PDT 2007

------ Forwarded Message
From: Bruce Redwine
Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2003 21:23:44 -0400
Subject: [ILDS] ILDS:  Discussion Group--AQ.  Redwine.

Re the confusion of Melissa and Justine, Melissa and "her sex broken"
(1.12), and Alexandrians being "deeply wounded in their sex," Sumantra Nag
asks, "why this mystery, these ambiguous, dramatic references to what would
be construed as scars in the sex lives of the characters about whom,
nevertheless, Durrell is able to write with an uncommon tenderness?"

Great question, big topic.   My first response is to say Durrell is
overdoing it again, bordering on the melodramatic.   The epigraph from
Freud, the five plus sexes (1.2), the "great wine press of love" (1.2).
Why are Alexandrians (the context of "all who have been deeply wounded in
their sex" [1.2]) so special in their sexual vulnerability?   Who isn't?
How does one "break" one's sex?   What's the latent image?   Sex as
mechanism, as structure?   Is all this piling it on in the way that Durrell
overuses "great" (as a critic noted long ago)?   Poetic license, however, is
at work here, creating a special environment to study a special problem.

On the other hand, there is something obviously mysterious about sexuality
in the AQ.   Abnormality is normality, sexually speaking.   Try to find a
character who's not weird.   In this world, sexuality is growth, knowledge,
identity, a way of passing through a host of stages and phases.   Also, I
think Durrell sometimes thinks of sex as closer to "gender," today's term,
i.e., social roles and constructs, all of which are arbitrary.

Moreover, the initial confusion of Melissa and Justine may be an attempt to
blur distinctions, to emphasize two aspects of love, which, as others note,
are initially separated but later conjoined in Clea.   Just a thought.

Bruce Redwine

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