[ilds] RG Justine 1.1 -"NOTE"

Beatrice Skordili bskordil at otenet.gr
Tue Apr 10 13:04:15 PDT 2007

Hi all!
I am very gratified by all these busy posts on _Justine_. I will be forgiven
I hope if I don't participate since the ground you cover is very much within
the purview of my still recent dissertation. I cannot bring myself to go
over my points for the list, though Jamie keeps alluding to some of the
things I wrote in "The Author and the Demiurge," with a view in part perhaps
to entice me into the discussion. I am reading with great interest, however.
    I am writing here to address a minor point in Jamie's post about the
Kavafy translation. I think you are right Jamie that "dreary purlieus" is a
mistranslation of "marasmos"; however--I've looked it up in the two
Greek dictionaries to make sure--"marasmos" means "wasting," "withering,"
"decline," or "deterioration" without any connotation of place. The line
from Kavafy you are referring to states literally "my mind, how long will it
remain (in this) withering (condition)," but could be construed (with a bit
of imagination) to have a metaphorical sense of place or space as in "my
mind, how long will it stay in(side) this withering (situation)," which is
of course how Durrell gets his "purlieus." For comparison purposes, "Waste
Land" as per Seferis' translation in Greek is "Erimi Hora."
    Great thinking Jamie, but Greek does not seem to bear it out!
Anyway, here are my 2 Greek cents!

I'll keep on reading!


P.S. As for the alliteration "lamp" "limp" (sorry if I'm referring to a
different thread), I have established, I think, a link in my dissertation to
the use Durrell made of hieroglyphics (but this would really be a long

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "James Gifford" <odos.fanourios at gmail.com>
To: <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2007 10:30 AM
Subject: Re: [ilds] RG Justine 1.1 -"NOTE"

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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