[ilds] RG 1.6 -- the narrator meets Justine

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Sun Apr 29 16:24:01 PDT 2007

It seems odd that one should rely on the Dutton editions when Durrell 
was working with Faber.  The Dutton editions are likely to contain 
errors not of the author's or original editor's making, which if one 
likes that sort of ambiguity and indeterminacy then fine, but it is not 
original to the work.  They also preserve, as we see, earlier errors 
that were corrected by the author.  Always best to work with the 
material over which the author has had control.


On Sunday, April 29, 2007, at 10:32  pm, Beatrice Skordili wrote:

> Well, Charles, I always use the Dutton four volume first and only to 
> check to see differences in the one volume Faber (1962). I have not 
> checked any of the other variants. But, I don't have the Faber handy 
> right now, so obviously I have missed all the additional Justine 
> references. However, what you say about the open-ended effects of the 
> first editions agrees well with an argument I have been making (based 
> solely on the difference between the two versions I have been using), 
> that Durrell engaged in a radical program of "sanitizing" his text in 
> the later version, eliminating ambiguities, destroying the play of the 
> footnotes in Justine (1957), and in all manner of ways (some of which 
> I have engaged with quite extensively in my diss.). I have not checked 
> the Greek version at all--or the Spanish one for that matter.
>     Although I love my Dutton and determined that it would be my 
> definitive text a long time ago, I have found that the 
> revisions--while "sanitizing" the 1962 text--prolong the play of 
> ambiguity on a different level when the Quartet versions are looked at 
> collectively. Nevertheless, I leave to you the painstaking work of 
> collating the different versions. It takes the kind of nerves and 
> patience I do not possess. In the end, while D. was certainly in love 
> with creating a certain quantum flux on the level of versions, he also 
> did a hell of a lot with what he actually left unchanged between 
> versions.
>     I will have to look at the passages you quote in the Faber, when I 
> have the opportunity. I still think, nevertheless, that the intention 
> is to mention one woman's name while really talking about the other! 
> Be that as it may, I do stand corrected in some sense. It's just that 
> Bill's post jarred my own impression of the text.
>     The thing is there is a million things mentioned everyday in the 
> posts that I feel I have something to say about. For instance, the 
> olives issue (how can the olives be forgotten when they are a constant 
> reference in D. since Prospero's Cell?). Here, I'll throw something 
> out: What does Justine do with the olive-pit from the Orvieto olive 
> that she eats? Or the "dirty sink"--I'll answer: Justine, Melissa, and 
> Clea all stand before a dirty sink (two of them with a foetus inside) 
> at some point! The pace with which the posts appear is staggering. I 
> really can't follow!
>     Glad to hear from you, Charles!
> Beatrice
> P.S. Sorry for messing up the numbering!
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: slighcl
> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Sent: Sunday, April 29, 2007 11:42 PM
> Subject: Re: [ilds] RG 1.6 -- the narrator meets Justine
> Beata Beatrix!  I am excited about your post.  It raises some basic 
> issues--not only of reading and interpretation--but also of the 
> textual-bibliographical history of the Quartet.
> You write that:
> 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.
> I agree about the indeterminacy of the women and how they shade into 
> each other like mirages--like Alex seen from the sea upon approach.  
> Bill Godshalk and I have been talking about that indeterminacy for 
> several years now.  Perhaps Jamie can pull our old postings from 2003 
> so we will not repeat too much? 
> But in short your observation--and it is helpful and acute in 
> itself!--must take us to asking, what text of Justine you are using?
> • 	All early Fabers (1957 - 1962) will leave the flux and 
> indeterminacy open, letting you interpret that woman in 1.10 as 
> perhaps being Melissa.  After all, Melissa has been colored as an 
> "afternoon" presence in 1.4, the section with a little "coloured 
> stall" with its ices.
> • 	All post-1962 Faber Justine printings will follow the single volume 
> additions and corrections, where that line reads:
> "This is the hour least easy to bear, when from my balcony I catch an 
> unexpected glimpse of her walking idly towards the town in her white 
> sandals, still half asleep.  Justine!" (1.10)
> • 	You write again that
> Only at 1.10 starting "I have had many glimpses of her" does the 
> narrator start describing Justine.
> Here I think that you mean 1.11, but again your post brings out the 
> differences in the text.  The 1957 Faber does read "many such glimpses 
> of her"; the 1962 reads "many such glimpses of Justine."
> The differences, Beatrice, as you already know from our old 
> conversations in Cincinatti & Corfu & from your own writings, makes a 
> "world" of difference for how the reader experiences these first 
> glimpses of Alex and her women.  Both the 1957 and 1962 versions of 
> Justine are legitimate and represents LD's method in the particular 
> historical moment.   Both need preserving in the record--they are 
> "possible" Justines.  But I for one will always enjoy the open 
> possibilities of the 1957-1962 printings.  (American Dutton/Penguin 
> printings are based on the earliest available plates, so they persist 
> with the indeterminacy.) I have been asking for a long time why LD 
> moved to isolate and specify the women.  As a reader who has learned a 
> great deal about reading among indeterminacies from the Quartet, I 
> would have counseled him otherwise.  As an editor, I hold on to the 
> historical differences.
> So what text are you reading from these days, Beatrice?  And while we 
> are talking, what text does the Greek translator follow?--or (here to 
> Marc) what did the French translator use?  How about Aurora Bernardez 
> (Julio Cortazar's wife)--which version does she follow in the those 
> wonderful Spanish translations?
> Why should we only have one perspective!
> -- 
> **********************
> Charles L. Sligh
> Department of English
> Wake Forest University
> slighcl at wfu.edu
> **********************
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