[ilds] RG 1.6 -- the narrator meets Justine

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Sun Apr 29 16:18:54 PDT 2007


Actually I think Durrell meant what he wrote.  In 1.10 he clearly means 
Justine, and I mean that even in the first Faber edition before he 
added the name 'Justine'.  He has just been talking of Justine in 1.9.  
And he goes on to talk about her in 1.11.  Clearly he means Justine all 
along.  It is one continuous progression of sightings leading up to 
their meeting at the Atelier.  But in response to anyone who missed the 
point, he drilled the point home: Justine.

:Michael



On Monday, April 30, 2007, at 12:06  am, william godshalk wrote:

> Yes, Beatrice, a very good explanation. But before Durrell began 
> sprinkling names "Melissa! Melissa" and "Justine!" in the early 
> episodes, there was even more ambiguity -- which I liked. Is it 
> possible that, when Durrell came back to the novel, he mistakenly 
> identified Melissa walking toward town in white sandals as Justine. 
> Would Justine be foolish enough to walk to town in sandals when she 
> had a car at her service?
>
> WLG
>
>
> The narrator plays tricks on the reader. A couple of times in the 
> beginning he mentions Justine, but he goes on to discuss Melissa. The 
> woman "walking idly towards the town in her white sandals" "yawning" 
> is not Justine, but Melissa who has just woken up from her afternoon 
> nap, because she works at night. It picks up from 1.4 when the 
> narrator describes her night "assignations" with men. Only at 1.10 
> starting "I have had many glimpses of her" does the narrator start 
> describing Justine. The transition from 1.9 to 1.10 as well as the 
> similarity with "I used to see her" and "I saw her daily" in 1.8 which 
> refer to Melissa create a very intentional confusion between the two 
> women.
>  
> Beatrice
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Michael Haag
> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Sent: Sunday, April 29, 2007 4:51 AM
> Subject: Re: [ilds] RG 1.6 -- the narrator meets Justine
>
> This entire run, from 1.10 to 1.16, is beautifully worked around two 
> of Cavafy's poems, indeed it is imbued with Cavafy associations. First 
> in 1.10 there is 'the afternoon sun', which is a Cavafy poem, and a 
> few lines down Darley goes to his balcony where he catches sight of 
> Justine, a reference picked up again at the end of 1.15 when Justine 
> quotes 'In the Evening' -- both 'The Afternoon Sun' and 'In the 
> Evening' being exquisite poems of loss, of love affairs long since 
> gone, of memory transmuted into place.
>
> :Michael
>
>
>
> On Sunday, April 29, 2007, at 01:25 am, william godshalk wrote:
>
> When the narrator gives his lecture on "the native poet of the city," 
> he notes that "one solitary student of the passions and the arts" sits 
> in the back of the hall, "her legs crossed in a mannish attitude" 
> (1.16). But he apparently does not recognize her as Justine.
>
> But the narrator has made it quite evident that he knows Justine by 
> sight. >From his balcony he catches sight of her "walking idly towards 
> the town in her white sandals." At another time, perhaps, she "passes 
> below" his "window, smiling as if at some private satisfaction" 
> (1.10). He further claims that he had "many such glimpses of her at 
> different times, and of course I knew her well by sight long before we 
> met (1.11). He claims that anyone who earns more than 200 pounds a 
> year relinquishes all anonymity in Alexandria -- and he recounts some 
> of the times he has seen her. To make matters doubly clear that the 
> reader gets the point, the narrator writes: "I knew them [Justine and 
> Nessim] by sight many months before we actually met -- as I knew 
> everyone in the city" (1.16).
>
> Surely there's a mystery here. The narrator insists that he knows 
> Justine by sight, and then, when he sees her at his lecture, he 
> doesn't seem to recognize her. Why not?
>
> And when Justine gets him home, she races to Nessim "like a gun-dog" 
> metaphorically dropping the narrator at Nessim's feet, wagging her 
> tale. "She had achieved me" (1.16). The narrator comments: "I did not 
> know for what purpose I had been brought here" (1.16).
>
> In Justine does the narrator and the reader ever know the "purpose"?
>
>
> WLG_______________________________________________
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