[ilds] [RG 2003 Justine 2]

James Gifford gifford at ualberta.ca
Fri Apr 6 13:14:28 PDT 2007


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Date: Sat, 12 Jul 2003 09:55:03 +0400
From: mihailinvy <mihailinvy at info.sgu.ru>
To: 'Anna Lillios' <lillios at pegasus.cc.ucf.edu>
Subject: Sex in AQ

If to discuss sex in AQ. It seems to me, that Durrell with his exquisite
ability to feel "all Greek" and with his effort to have in view all the
possible culture traditions of the place, just couldn't  lose sight of a
rather specific combination of meanings peculiar to the old Greek semantic
fields of "love", "game", "playfulness"  etc. Paidika, meaning "boyish" and
being a derivation of pais (boy), meant also "playful", "not serious" as
opposed to "serious", "civic" etc. And pais itself meant not only "boy" but
also "partner", "son", "daughter", "girl", "slave" and what not else. (See
K.J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (L., 1978))

In the "revolver structure" of an archaic mind, able to "click" from one
mode of behavior to another (and having no problems with "keeping one's
identity" etc), there existed a lot of code markers, signifying the
"transition places" where one had (or might) to perform such transition -
and Greeks abundantly used them in their poetry and vase painting. Durrell,
building his PLAYFUL (see Pursewarden's remarks on art and writing and
artist etc) heraldic universe placed in and around Alexandria with it's
rich Greek humus, couldn't be unaware of this. Here, it seems to me, we are
to look for the reasons not only for his "getting caught" in an endless
loop of sexual plots, not only for his little games (like that good point
that Bruce has recently made about sponsa/sponsor), but - more widely - for
some constructive peculiarities of his manner.

For the Greeks used their code icons marking playful reality just in the
"heraldic" sense. A boy holding a hare was a reference to a traditional
code marker of a lowest possible male status, associated not only with
playfullness - but, say, with irresponsibility, social, family and
personal, with cruelty not to be punished or revenged - and with poetry,
love etc. What about Narouz with his hare lip in this context? He is
"forever young" as Nessim is "the responsible brother" - or a responsible
half of a self in Durrell's drama of the selves and identities playing hide
and seek? (By the way, Darley shared a prostitute not with Nessim, as James
Gifford mentioned, but with Narouz, which is important).

Love is a key to the book - and the sense of play also is. Those characters
unable to understand this (Mountolive or Nessim) are punished just for
their blindness and UNABILITY TO PASS THE BORDER - which we see in the case
of Mountolive final try to "dive" into the city he thinks he knows so good.

Well, there seems to be a lot of other points to be discussed from this
point of view - but my end now was just to add some sticks to the common
fire.

Regards
Vadim Mikhailin

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