[ilds] Said & Durrell

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Mon May 28 10:00:01 PDT 2007

On 5/28/2007 11:07 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:

>I also don't see the linkage.  How can you?  
But is not the point, as in all reading of editorial or political 
rhetoric, not the "truth" of the linkage, but instead the fact and power 
and specificity of the linkage?  That such a linkage happened it all in 
2007 and that Scruton thought that invoking Lawrence Durrell (alongside 
Turgenev and Conrad; in a certain contrast to Said) would add a cache of 
some sort to his indictment of Said?

As some will be aware, Elgar is enjoying a sort of cultural moment as 
Britain recognizes his 150th anniversary. 


Obviously Elgar has an iconic presence far  beyond what Durrell has 
enjoyed.  But as I read Scruton invoking "Lawrence Durrell" for his 
needs and wondered about how his reference would be read, I also think 
about what might be called the cultural and political uses of "Edward 
Elgar."  Anyone who lived and read and listened thoughtfully between 
1979 and 1990 could not be unaware that Margaret Thatcher was making a 
special use of "Edward Elgar" that may or may not have had anything to 
do with "truth" about Elgar and his music.  But no one studying or 
listening enthusiastically to Elgar during that time would be unaware 
that the composer's name became associated with a certain political 
view, a nostalgia for "Victorian" things that again had less to with 
reality than with ideas and politics and rhetoric.  And these high 
Conservative commandeerings of Elgar did set back serious discussion of 
a key composer of significant merit.  (I am not ignoring Elgar's own 
conservative bent.  At the same time, his politics were his own to 
practice in his lifetime.)

I have read Eagleton and Said invoking "Lawrence Durrell" in certain 
ways, and now I find Scruton calling up "Lawrence Durrell" to serve in 
other ways.  Whatever the truth, we ignore what these usages at our 
peril--whether we are recommending books to friends and lovers, 
proposing syllabi and fielding book proposals, or announcing On Miracle 
Ground conferences or the next meetings at the Durrell School of Corfu.


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

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