[ilds] RG Justine

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Mon Apr 9 11:16:02 PDT 2007


Bruce's question is indeed an interesting one and also, I think, 
touches on something fundamental.  But he asks for responses not in 
terms of literary analysis or as an intellectual exercise.  As I am 
writing a biography of Durrell I have been looking at such matters in 
intellectual and literary terms but also in terms of Durrell's personal 
history.  I do have some thoughts on this but I would prefer to develop 
them as part of Durrell's personal history in the biography.  Please 
allow me to pass on this one.  But I would be very interested to hear 
what others think.

:Michael




On Monday, April 9, 2007, at 06:55  pm, william godshalk wrote:

> Bruce, your posting was distributed to the list. See below. My
> concern is only about an appropriate subject line to give your
> posting for archiving reasons. You seem to be asking general
> questions about the entire novel, not just about Justine 1.1. I
> should have consulted Jamie and Charlie, the co-moderators, before
> writing you.
>
> Please forgive me, and your questions are excellent ones. Now we must
> await Michael Haag.
>
> Bill
>
>
> At 09:15 PM 4/8/2007, you wrote:
>> Michael Haag says Durrell originally wanted "Justine" to be "an
>> investigation of bisexual love."  I accept that.  But I would like
>> to know why.  Not the why of an intellectual exercise or an exercise
>> in literary analysis.  (Michael doesn't think LD was "consistent" in
>> exploring the idea.)  Rather, what led Durrell to choose that
>> subject in the first place?  Was he trying to come to terms with
>> something in his own nature?  Or did he think that he'd hit upon
>> something fundamental in human nature?  Also, Durrell's rejection of
>> the "falseness of either/or," as Michael says, would seem to be
>> another way to stress bisexuality.
>>
>> Bruce
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Michael Haag <michaelhaag at btinternet.com>
>>> Sent: Apr 8, 2007 2:09 PM
>>> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>>> Subject: Re: [ilds] RG Justine 1.1
>>>
>>> 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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> ***************************************
> W. L. Godshalk		*
> Department of English         *
> University of Cincinnati            Stellar disorder  *
> Cincinnati OH 45221-0069      *
> 513-281-5927
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