[ilds] RG Justine 1.1

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Sun Apr 8 14:09:17 PDT 2007


Bill asks: How bisexual are the characters of Justine?

One answer is found in Justine 1.16 where Nessim is 'slender and with a 
deep waist like a woman, and long arched beautiful hands'; and Justine 
sits with 'her legs crossed in a mannish attitude, puffing a cigarette'.

In Justine 1.2 there is 'something subtly androgynous, inverted upon 
itself'.

Certainly here and there Durrell does make a point of describing the 
maleness of the female and the femaleness of the male.

Sometimes this seems to suggest wholeness or harmony, sometimes 
sterility.  I am not sure that Durrell is consistent or that he 
explores the idea very seriously.

:Michael




On Sunday, April 8, 2007, at 08:16  pm, william godshalk wrote:

> "I do not in the least underestimate bisexuality. . . I expect it to 
> provide all further enlightenment." Letter from Sigmund Freud to 
> Wilhelm Fliess (25 March 1898)
>
> "And now, the main thing! As far as I can see, my next work will be 
> called "Human Bisexuality." It will go to the root of the problem and 
> say the last word it may be granted to say--the last and the most 
> profound." Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess (7 August 1901)
>
> I quote these sentences from Wikiquote. Obviously they support 
> Michael's reading. But I have heard Freud's "four persons" expounded 
> as (1) the female lover, (2) her father, (3) the male lover, (4) his 
> mother. I suppose we could call this Oedipal projection in which the 
> male lover projects his desire for this mother unto the female lover, 
> the female lover her desire for her father onto her male lover. I see 
> that this could get pretty complicated. But if we take the bisexual 
> route, is Clea's love for Darley really a displacement of her love for 
> Justine? When Darley goes to bed with Justine, does he really desire 
> Nessim? Does Nessim sleep with Melissa because he really wants to 
> bugger Darley? And so on. How bisexual are the characters of Justine?
>
> Bill
>
>
>
> At 09:59 AM 4/8/2007, you wrote:
>
> All:
>
> To overlap with and extend what has been said about the epigraphs to
> Justine:
>
> Durrell wrote about 'the four of us' who come together in the act of
> love.  These are Darley, Melissa, Justine and Nessim.  But also Durrell
> read the edited correspondence from Freud to his colleague Wilhelm
> Fliess (first published in English translation in 1954).  'Now for
> bisexuality!', Freud wrote to Fliess on 1 August 1899 -- and Durrell
> would quote what followed as an epigraph to Justine: 'I am accustoming
> myself to the idea of regarding every sexual act as a process in which
> four persons are involved. We shall have a lot to discuss about that'.
>
> The four persons are the female and male aspects of the man and the
> male and female aspects of the woman, for Freud insisted on 'an
> original bisexuality in every individual' and saw the repression of one
> side of one's sexuality in favour of the other as a cause of neurosis. 
> I am not sure that Durrell can be said to have repressed the
> bisexuality part; he originally wanted Justine to be described as 'an
> investigation of bisexual love', but Faber objected and so it became
> the anodyne and meaningless 'investigation of modern love'.
>
> Against this sexual illustration of the theme of harmony and unity
> Durrell opposed duality, which he regarded as false and unhealthy, and
> which he likewise illustrated with a prefatory quote to Justine, this
> time from the Marquis de Sade who showed how the logic of rationalism
> led to an insane choice of either/or: 'There are two positions
> available to us -- either crime which renders us happy, or the noose,
> which prevents us from being unhappy. I ask whether there can be any
> hesitation, lovely Therese, and where will your little mind find an
> argument able to combat that one?'
>
> Durrell mentions the falseness of either/or in for example Prospero's
> Cell (p108: 'Was he happy or unhappy, moral or amoral?  He was outside
> the trap of the opposites').  The object is to realise that the choice
> is a false one.
>
> Going back to Freud's letter to Fliess, that was one of his last before
> the relationship foundered.  The letters show Freud formulating the
> basic elements of psychonanalysis in his theories of dream
> interpretation, infantile sexuality, bisexuality and psychoanalytic
> method which found developed expression in The Interpretation of Dreams
> (1900).  This was a break with Fliess who had developed and continued
> to be convinced of various physiological explanations for hysteria,
> etc, of a pretty crackpot kind -- ideas which Durrell himself pursued
> and gave expression to throughout the Alexandria Quartet.  Freud may
> have been an improvement on Sade in Durrell's mind, but he remained
> unhappy with any one system of thought, indeed with any system at all.
>
> :Michael
>
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