[ilds] Durrell and The Good Soldier

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Thu Apr 26 10:44:57 PDT 2007

On 4/26/2007 12:28 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:

>But there is still the matter of doing one's homework, and it is surprising he didn't have under his belt the major authors, and Ford was certainly one of those, along with Joyce and Proust.  
I think I hear what you are saying Bruce, but I can place little belief 
in the notion that LD did not have a thorough exposure and knowledge of 
19th and 20th century literary movements.  Eliot certainly did not 
engage LD in the letters as a naive poet writing from the wilderness, 
and we should be confident that TSE brooked no fools.  While it is true 
that LD schooled himself in literature, his works, his lectures, and his 
critical statements put to rest any idea that he did not know, 
understand, and selectively digest the work of Joyce, Proust, Kafka.  
(/I know that you are not saying LD did not read Joyce and Proust, 
Bruce--just that he seems not to have read FMF./)  LD cites all of them 
as points of references in the letters and in contemporary documents 
springing from his lectures, /A Key to Modern British Poetry/ and "The 
Minor Mythologies," for example.  And to make the generic bound to 
poetry, a bound which is too little taken in our fiction-obsessed times, 
LD had an extremely thorough command of works by Eliot, Pound, Auden, 
and too many other minors and majors to list beside.  LD may or may not 
have read FMF in the context of these other writers.  Given FMF's close 
proximity to the major modernist figures as friend, publisher, &c., it 
would indeed be a surprise that LD had skipped over him.  He absolutely 
did not require a university degree to be aware of a key catalytic 
figure as FMF.

Watch LD talk in the old films (say the BBC Gawsworth special from 1970) 
or listen to the recordings of his lectures.  The range of reference 
never ceases to amaze me.  Hearing his voice, I think that, like 
Boswell's Johnson, LD "knows how to read better than any one . . . he 
gets at the substance of a book directly; he tears out the heart of it.' 

(Does that direct echo mean that Justine of the Workpoints/Consequential 
Data read Boswell, or simply that she had clawed out the heart of his book?)


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

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