[ilds] Rg Justine 1.11 -- foetus

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Tue Apr 24 12:23:23 PDT 2007

Regarding 'the picture'.  Instead of 'these memorials', an early 
variant on Durrell's dedication of Justine was 'these documents' -- to 
Eve these documents of our/her beloved city (he crossed out our and 
substituted her).  Documents are things, proofs, and can include such 
things as papers, yes, but also photographs and even rings.  In fact I 
am rather surprised that nothing was made in the reading group of 
burying the rings (1.7).  My impression is that Durrell on his island, 
strangely with this child, is introducing us to various 
documents/things that have profound meaning for him.  He may not care 
whether or not you 'get it'; indeed he would probably prefer that you 
do not get it.  But he believes that these things carry a charge and 
that even without being understood they can carry a charge for the 


On Tuesday, April 24, 2007, at 07:34  pm, slighcl wrote:

> On 4/23/2007 11:16 PM, Michael Haag wrote:
> For the gnostics, the material world created by Sophia's fall was one 
> of confusion, agony and remorse; it was an ektroma, an abortion.
> Yes, I had thought the Sophia reference was leading us the way to 
> meditations on "the botched creation."  Also recall Justine pleading:
> "I mean, that God neither created us nor wished us to be created, but 
> that we are the work of an inferior deity, a Demiurge, who wrongly 
> believed himself to be God?  Heavens, how probable it seems; and this 
> overweening hubris has been handed down to our children."  (1.20)
> Justine's "our children" takes on a new resonance if if we keep in 
> mind not only the "lost child" but also "the dirty sink with the fœtus 
> in it" (1.11). 
> But again we have here "the picture" (a specific memory?) and also 
> highly particularized by the articles--"the dirty sink" and "the 
> fœtus."  Is there any other allusion to this incident in the Quartet?  
> The dirty sink would seem to suggest the back area of Pombal's "little 
> dank flat" (1.12).  Cf. Melissa washing in the "ugly scullery" with 
> its "dirty iron sink" (1.23).  So what is this "picture"?
> Biographically, for LD, the issue of pregnancy and lost children was 
> haunting.  Others will tell those tales with more knowledge than I 
> have.  As a student of the literature, I will simply note what 
> artistic uses he made of the trauma:  "he carried the consciousness of 
> her going heavily about with him--like a dead baby from which one 
> could not bring oneself to part" (4.1).
> Tremendously sad, that last.  I recall also Joyce and Poldy carrying 
> heavily the memories of lost little ones.
> -- 
> **********************
> Charles L. Sligh
> Department of English
> Wake Forest University
> slighcl at wfu.edu
> **********************
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