[ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 1, Issue 88

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Sat Apr 28 08:29:10 PDT 2007


Yes, I forgot about Smyrna.  But that does not really change anything.  
Smyrna was something like Alexandria, also a place where so-called 
foreigners had been living for generations.  In fact Smyrna was a Greek 
city taken over by the Turks; for that matter Asia Minor was Greek and 
the whole thing had been taken over by the Turks.  The point is that 
Melissa was not a foreigner in Alexandria in the tedious narrow 
parochial modern 21st century sense of being born and having come from 
what is currently recognised as being Greece; she belonged to that 
great Greek world whose origins go back to Alexander the Great, even to 
the Trojan War, and of which Alexandria was once part.  Certainly in 
speaking of the modern cosmopolitan city, the one that began dying in 
1936, it was 'home' to Greeks who had been invited to settle there by 
Mohammed Ali, himself born and raised in what is now Greece.

Complex, as I said, and not to be reduced to the silly modern fashions 
of colonial and post-colonial 'theory'.


On Saturday, April 28, 2007, at 10:16  am, Sumantra Nag wrote:

> RE_Message: 2
>> Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2007 21:36:21 +0100
>> From: Michael Haag
> ...........Darley is hardly a womaniser.  He had no woman at all, and 
> no
> history
>> of having had one, until Melissa pretty much offered herself to
> him;............
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> Michael,
> I found your spirited response very informative. I did of course note 
> your
> major
> publication on Alexandria (Capital of Memory) some time ago, and look
> forward very much to reading it
> one day, along with Ian McNiven's biography on Lawrence Durrell. My
> observations:
> Your view that "...Melissa is a Greek of Alexandria; there is nothing 
> to say
> that she has
> not lived there all her life."
> In Justine, when Darley meets her for the first time, when she is very 
> ill
> after a party in the flat lent by Pombal to Pursewarden, the Greek 
> doctor
> '...asked her where she came from and a haunted expression came into 
> her
> face as she replied "Smyrna";...and then, '...The doctor took up her 
> hand
> and examined the wedding-finger. "You see," he said.... pointing out 
> the
> absence of a ring. "That is why. Her family has disowned her...." '
> Melissa is a refugee: much earlier in Justine, the narrator writes,
> "I found Melissa, washed up like a half-drowned bird, on the dreary
> littorals of Alexandria, with her sex broken...."
> Early in the pages of Justine, [1.2] Durrell makes much of Alexandria 
> as
> "...the great wine-press of love;...." and its inhabitants as people 
> "...who
> have been deeply wounded in their sex."  What is one to make of this
> somewhat genral comment?
> Sumantra
> --------------------------------------------

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