[ilds] Durrell and The Good Soldier

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 25 15:49:42 PDT 2007

Alejandro Adams writes:

>Subject: [ilds]  Durrell and The Good Soldier

>During an interview with an English journalist, Durrell says something to 
>the effect that no one has tried to write anything quite like the Quartet. 
>(To wit, "The narrative momentum forward is counter-sprung by references 
>backwards in time, giving the impression of a book which is not traveling 
>from a to b but standing above time and turning slowly on its own axis to 
>comprehend the whole pattern.")  The journalist immediately stops the 
>interview, hands Durrell a copy of The Good Soldier and leaves him to read 
>it.  The journalist returns the following day and resumes the interview, at 
>which point Durrell humbly thanks the journalist for introducing him to 
>Ford's novel and confesses that Ford already "did it" (see parenthetical 
>citation above for an uncannily accurate description of the narrative 
>methodology of The Good Soldier).
>I've always wondered whether the Quartet could have gestated with such a 
>self-important sense of daring had Durrell been exposed to the impeccable 
>machinery of The Good Soldier when Justine was just an embryo.  But what 
>would the Quartet be without that sense of daring?

                                * * * * *

Good story.  I hadn't heard it before.  Someone will undoubtedly show me wrong, but I don't believe Durrell was familiar with Ford's Good Soldier or he wouldn't have made such bold claims about his Quartet.  I also think he was probably little read in the classic "high moderns," as his comments about Joyce and Proust indicate.  On the other hand, I don't think this diminishes the accomplishments of his Quartet one bit, which is read on its own merits and don't need the author's "hype."


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