[ilds] RG Justine -- Ironic?

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Thu Apr 26 17:08:18 PDT 2007

> If Darley is Romanticism and Pursewarden Irony, then what is Arnauti 
> but a more robust totem of Romanticism, with his inimitable and 
> daunting earnestness and perspicacity and artistic integrity and 
> verbal flair? Whatever glib criticisms Darley may offer in regard to 
> the formal pretensions of Arnauti's Moeurs, he cites the work 
> liberally, in a spirit of envy and awe ("savage insight," "accurate 
> and penetrating").  So what are we to make of Arnauti in terms of 
> Durrell's multiple avatars?  Granted: he is an elusive figure, an 
> incorporeal mentor or spirit guide, only a refracted presence in the 
> novel.  But if Pursewarden is intended to provide an ironic 
> metacommentary on Darley, are we to take Arnauti as even more of a 
> "joke" in his display of fine writing?  "Come on, at least Darley 
> isn't THAT ridiculous!" 

A marvellous post, Alejandro.  1001 thanks.  I welcome you to the list 
and RG.  Yes. Arnauti.  "a more robust totem of Romanticism."  An 
unforgivable omission on my part.  But you have the sense of it, I 
think.  Within terms of the /Quartet/'s /ficciones/, you have

        [*Darley *(Balthazar / Pursewarden / Clea &c. {/Darley
        /[*Arnuati*] /Darley/} Balthazar / Pursewarden / Clea &c.)
        *Darley*]      X       /Mountolive /

-- a simplifcation of the formula, but workable. if provisional.

>but at the 
>mention of Pursewarden as one of Durrell's avatars, it's difficult not to 
>invoke certain parts of Clea), in Pursewarden's notebook I sense a 
>retroactive prolepsis (an oxymoron, like so many ideas prompted by the 
>Quartet) on the part of the author, who seems to be attacking himself, 
>rather than an ironic metacommentary on the character of Darley (am I 
>splitting hairs here?).  To brutalize Darley's values--the vehemence and 
>vitriol are elevated to a level which belies the necessary indirectness of 
>irony, no?
And in terms of LD's composition process in his notebooks for /Justine/, 
and then again for the siblings of the /Quartet/, this is also true.  LD 
is writing back at LD.  What is presented in the published /Justine /as 
the /Moeurs/--Arnauti writing on "Claudia"--is largely made up of LD's 
elaborations upon earlier premonitions from the notebook drafts that 
ended in still births, dead ends.  LD's insight was at once genius and 
completely opportunistic and necessitated by real world conditions, real 
world time schedules.  He could see that there was no need to discard 
the still born "Arnauti" drafts from the notebooks.  Revise and polish 
those early notebook pages.  Draw them into the next draft and cobble 
them together with the necessary ligature as if the newer narrative 
avatar (Darley) had acquired the earlier text fortuitously, from a 
friend.  Then turn that chinese box text

        {Darley [Arnuati] Darley}

over to other characters / readers / narrators to read, comment upon, 
interlineate.  And you get. . . . .*^*


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

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