[ilds] Justine 1.2. -- Capitally

Ken Seigneurie kseigneurie at lau.edu.lb
Thu Apr 19 23:10:03 PDT 2007

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: william godshalk 
  To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca 
  Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2007 8:18 PM
  Subject: Re: [ilds] Justine 1.2. -- Capitally

      Ken Seigneurie writes: 

         "I see no reason not to hear echoes of Durrell's liberal-humanist (i.e. not Marxist) criticism of capitalism in this term, i.e. " Capitally, what is this city of ours? " = "What is this city of ours in terms of capital?" His use of the anti-Semitic topoi around Jewishness fits here as well. These echoes will increase and find their full thematization in Clea, revealing, in my view, a growing (albeit not full avowed) frustration on Durrell's part with the course taken by postwar Britain and the rest of the West."

      An interesting suggestion.  But I' m not sure what you mean by Durrell's "use of the anti-Semitic topoi around Jewishness ." Of the seven references to Jews in Justine only one is openly antisemitic -- Scobie's letters "full of fantastic animadversion against Jews ." Justine is wealthy, but only because she's married to a Copt. The narrator and Balthazar are friends, and only Cohen seems to be a capitalist. The wealthiest character (I'm guessing) is Capodistria, and from the name I assume that he is Italian or Sloveian. And the narrator and the little girl bury Cohen's rings bought for Melissa under their hearth-stone. I assume that an antisemite would throw those rings into the sea.

  But perhaps I do not understand your point. Would you clarify please?


  The basic point is not about Jewishness (other than re a generalized depiction of their ostensible greed, which is what I meant by anti-semitic topoi) but about juggernaut capitalism for which nationalism is a means. In order to clarify, excuse my jumping forward in the text. BTW, the reason I said the AQ was a liberal-humanist critique is that the root cause is ascribed to human greed, not to the political-economic structure as in Marxism. This in mind, consider Capodistria's consumption of women, the conspiracy, which would include not only Nessim's and Justine's ill-starred gambit but also Mountolive's and especially Pursewarden's dawning awareness of Britain's role in seeking hegemony. Then there's the assassination of Narouz that comes when the idealism of his Coptic nationalism (!) exceeds his usefulness in the greater game (recall "Abdel Kader, head of" in the game bag). My own admittedly minority opinion is that all this comes together in Clea where the "honey gold" epitome of the "Britain's Best" has to face the unpleasant reality of its role in exploitation but would rather bite off its paw in the trap than lose its illusions. 
      Sorry for the incompleteness of the reply. Have my mind deep in another project right now, but didn't want to disregard a fair question. 

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