[ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 1, Issue 91_Expats and colonialism_Message 2 from James Gifford

Sumantra Nag sumantranag at gmail.com
Sun Apr 29 02:43:21 PDT 2007

Message: 2
> Date: Sat, 28 Apr 2007 09:49:23 -0700
> From: James Gifford

Sumantra?  What's your take on this?  Does Durrell's 'troubling' of
> 'received notions' of the colonial world show through in your reader?


It is time for me to first confess that I am not an academic in the field of 
English literature. Nor do I have the historical perspective about the Greek 
world and the world of the Middle East which I have seen displayed in these 
wonderfully stimulating recent exchanges on the ILDS site. My knowledge 
about Orientalism is very oblique. I mentioned in my very first postings on 
the new recent ILDS discussions including [RG] Justine, that I was strongly 
attracted by Durrell's evocative prose  in Justine and the AQ, when I first 
read the books in the early 1960s at the age of about 17-19. I still find 
Justine quite rivetting, a bit like Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" 
(or more accurately in translation, "In Search of Lost Time") - where you 
can open a page and get lost in the world which arises in the pages!

The consciousness about Orientalism or "post-colonial" or "colonial" aspects 
of literature has come much later for me, and of course, with time one 
notices social realities which make one more judgemental, at least in terms 
of social perspectives. But this can happen without any extensive erosion in 
one's responses to a literary creation (such as Justine) in purely literary 
terms - had I been educated later as an academic in English literature, my 
responses would probably have been more judgemental in those (i.e., 
literary) terms as well!

Also, not being familiar with the details of international politics in 
Egypt - or in Alexandria in particular - just before and during WWII, I 
suppose I did not read much into the political stances or situations 
suggested by the books of the AQ, except as a part of the stories which 
develop in these novels.

So much for the time being!



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