[ilds] Eliot's Burbank, again

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Sun Apr 22 19:04:18 PDT 2007

He 'a minor Antony, and she a Cleo' (AQ 82), the reference being to 
Nessim and Justine.  And Darley did step into Nessim's shoes, so to 

After all Durrell did call Eve 'Gipsy', which rather does make him the 
big Roman, as in Antony being 'the bellows and the fan / To cool a 
gipsy's lust' (A&C, I, i, 9-10).  And there is Durrell's letter to 
Miller: 'Gipsy Cohen burns black and fierce under her Tunisian 
eyebrows; the flavour is straight Shakespeare's Cleopatra; an ass from 
Algiers, lashes from Malta, nails and toes from Smyrna, hips from 
Beirut, eyes from Athens, and nose from Andros, and a mouth that 
shrieks or purrs like the witching women of Homs or Samarkand. And 
breasts from Fiume. And what the hell?'

I wonder if one reason why Durrell wrote Balthazar was to overcome the 
embarrassment of some of the things he wrote, and meant, in Justine.  
By writing Balthazar (not preconceived when he wrote Justine) he can 
pretend to irony all along.


On Monday, April 23, 2007, at 02:35  am, slighcl wrote:

> Does
> the narrator envision himself as an Antony who will be left high and
> dry by the musical departure of his God Hercules?
> That would be a significant problem, I think.  Even considering the 
> narrator's willingness to dream of Justine as one of the great avatars 
> of the City--and his dream of her just may well project her into that 
> company, even as tawdry as her "reality" perhaps is--it has to be 
> ironic.  Antony?  This narrator?  Especially Antony as eulogized by 
> Shax's Cleo? 
> I dream'd there was an Emperor Antony:     
> O, such another sleep, that I might see     
> But such another man!   
> His face was as the heavens; and therein stuck     
> A sun and moon, which kept their course,     
> and lighted     
> The little O, the earth.
> His legs bestrid the ocean: his rear'd arm     
> Crested the world: his voice was propertied     
> As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;     
> But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,   
> He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty,     
> There was no winter in't; an autumn 'twas    
> That grew the more by reaping: his delights     
> Were dolphin-like; they show'd his back above     
> The element they lived in: in his livery  
> Walk'd crowns and crownets; realms and islands were     
> As plates dropp'd from his pocket.
> Think of the narrator placing into the position of Antony, a lover 
> recalled in those visionary terms, then remember that Justine tells 
> Clea, "with a slight shrug: 'I had to put him out of my mind.' (4.3).  
> What he learns in Balthazar sinks his Antonian ambitions even further 
> into the tepid waters of the estuary.
> -- 
> **********************
> Charles L. Sligh
> Department of English
> Wake Forest University
> slighcl at wfu.edu
> **********************
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