[ilds] RG Justine posts

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Mon Apr 23 10:47:50 PDT 2007

A note from a listserv moderator--

Sumantra asks

>Is the discussion not going off NOW into channels which are not dealing
>sufficiently with the text of _Justine_? 
I will offer up a tentative agreement, with a proviso.  I find that am 
far more likely to value and learn from postings anchoring  themselves 
in the words of /Justine/.  Dismissals and disagreements without textual 
evidence do not carry much weight.  If we all recall the novel as a 
starting point for any new RG posting, then I think that the points made 
will make a better contribution to the discussion.  Contribute.  Agree. 
Disagree.  Question.  Digress.  Obfuscate. Just make certain to start 
and stop with /Justine/.  Let the book's "dim momentum in the mind" be 
"the fugue upon which the writing is made" (1.6)

Having said that, I would also point out that the now somewhat lengthy 
debate over the roles of authors, readers, and texts is central to the 
/Quartet/, coming to the foreground with /Balthazar/.  The issues of 
active versus passive reading are central, but many of the postings 
could do a better job of offering up words from the text as proof.   
Readers, roll up your sleeves and get your hands involved.  Tear the 
heart out of the book with your fingers, like a fresh loaf (Workpoints/ 
Consequential Data).

>And is there a predominance of
>exchanges between three commentators with only a few interjections from
>other readers??!! 
I am afraid that the only blame can be placed on those sitting out 
silently on the virtual edges of our discussion.  The more subscribers 
posting, the greater diversity in the conversation.  Three cheers for 
all posting currently.  You are the only ones keeping the /Justine /RG 
alive at the moment.   Worthy pioneers, all.

>Who are the major literary influences on Durrell's style? [. . . .] the richness of his
>language has been compared (or related) to many writers: Lytton Strachey,
>the Sitwells, Sir Thomas Browne, De Quincey. 
Yes.  Any attempt to locate single influential models--or even 
influential movements--seems inadequate.  In LD you are dealing with a 
writer who is too eclectic in taste, untainted by the literary 
expectations of the academy which has never been able to place him and 
thereore has left him ignored.  In his lectures on literature he was 
working towards an impressively broad and heterodox take on what used to 
be called "the tradition."  Witness LD arguing for us to rethink our 
assumption as he writes in the "Minor Mythologies" essay, from the 
decade leading up to /Justine/:

        Today the distinction between "highbrow" and "lowbrow" art is
        significant of the split in society.  Each section has, so to
        speak, developed its own myth-makers, its own criteria.  The
        reader who enjoys Proust and Kafka will seldom confess that he
        enjoys P.G. Wodehouse, and vice versa. . . .

LD was ready to confess that he did enjoy high and low literature, and 
/Justine /is one of the documents submitted as evidence.  I like your 
gestures to Strachey's eighteenth-century urbanity and Browne's baroque 
mannerisms.  Shax and the beloved Elizas, also.  Eliot.  Norman Douglas 
and other "silver age stylists."  A huge inventory of authors discarded 
by the enforcing authorities of his particular moment--cf. Arthur 
Machen.  Dickens for the Scobie material. You might also reread /A Key 
to Modern British Poetry/ and Pursewarden's letters to Brother Ass.


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

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