[ilds] RG Justine 1.1 -"NOTE"

James Gifford odos.fanourios at gmail.com
Tue Apr 10 00:30:15 PDT 2007

Since we're already grabbing at those Cavafy poems a bit, I thought I might
throw in yet one more allusion (censored) that strikes me in the opening and
closing of Justine.

In "The City," Durrell mistranslates Cavafy's 'marasmon' (I doubt Greek will
go as plain text here) as "purlieus of the common mind," yet my dictionary
renders "wasteland," as do most of the translations (all the ones I've
checked, actually).  Since the "NOTE" between the dedication and the
epigraphs claims "Only the city is real," and the close of the book censors
the word "wasteland," I think it's fair to suggest that there's a missing
third epigraph...  T.S. Eliot is a part of the frame as well, though erased
just as with Freud's comment on bisexuality.

I should hasten to add, Cavafy obviously wasn't referring to Eliot's "The
Waste Land," but Durrell's translation seems do exactly that (by virtue of
its absence), just as his insistence on the "Real" city buries the "Unreal"
cities.  That reference must also have been on his mind since not only is
Alexandria among Eliot's listed Unreal cities, but Robert Liddell's novel
about Alexandria bore the title _Unreal City_ in 1952.

These "memorials" may be dedicated to Eve, but I think they are shored up
against T.S. Eliot's "tour d'abolie."


On 4/9/07 1:39 PM, "Bruce Redwine" <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net> wrote:

> Charles calls attention to the bibliographical format of Justine, which he
> ably handles, as he did during the conference in Victoria.  A small note on
> that arrangement of material re the dedication.  The translations of Cavafy's
> two poems, "The City" and "The God Abandons Antony" are placed near the end.
> Both poems deal with "the city," i.e., Alexandria, both as a physical locus
> and then as something else, e.g., something associated with the "Black ruins
> of my life" in the former poem.  Those "black ruins" will resonate throughout
> Justine, echoed elsewhere.  Now, a "memorial[s]" is/are not ruins, or I don't
> normally think of as such.  A memorial is a finished tribute, in the way a
> novel may be thought of as one.  So the ending rounds back to the beginning,
> or nearly so.  Still, I wonder about those "black ruins" which trouble the
> narrator, and I wonder if they originate in the author himself, somehow.  But
> we must await Michael's book to find that out.
> Bruce

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