[ilds] "said was in the mould of durrell"

Ilyas Khan ilyas.khan at crosby.com
Mon May 28 14:04:46 PDT 2007


I think there are quite a few of us on this list who are ³brits², though I
suspect many of us are itinerant at best, and offshore for much of the time.
Such is the way of the world. In that regard, at least, LD was our

I have little doubt that Durrell, and his memory (but not reverence thereof)
remains strong in many circles.

But that, my Durrellian friends, is clutching at straws. The truth,
unpalatable as it might seem, is that Britain has constructed its own
pantheon of British writers that are summoned up in the public conscious ­
and LD is rarely evoked in this context.

Woodehouse, Orwell, Amis (pater et fils), Auden and even Le Carre  are the
heavyweights. Rushdie and Naipaul, though distinctly sub-continental in my
view, have become ³British² over the years, and occupy a place in the
Guardian/TLS/LRB reading public¹s high esteem. Conrad, Green and Maugham
remain untouchable. They are (to borrow from Justine) our literary primates.

There may well be howls of protest, but I have lost count of the times I
have played the evangelist to a pagan audience who, if they have heard of
Durrell, end up admitting they ³really meant Gerald².

Coming back to the Scruton article ­ and the view, expressed by some, that
any mention that confers ³it² status is not worth questioning. I am not
hampered or invigorated by being a member of any academic group, but on
this, I take the side of the professorial crowd. Scruton¹s article, no
matter how well written, leaves me guessing at the link. Lets hope we get to
hear from the author.

Charles, outside of Oxbridge, Durrellian might well be a mis-construed
reference to Orwellian. They may as well be the same !


On 5/28/07 8:50 AM, "slighcl" <slighcl at wfu.edu> wrote:

> On 5/27/2007 4:01 PM, Ilyas Khan wrote:
>> Sorry, but the linkage is contrived, at best, or I am missing some nuance
>> here.
> As you know, Ilyas, Scruton is making a special use of Durrell for an end
> applicable to current cultural debates in Britain--debates to which I will
> always be an outsider.  Contrivance always must be reckoned in political
> rhetoric.  That said, as someone who is interested in Durrell's changing place
> in literary and cultural history, I find I would like to ask Scruton and his
> readers 
>>> "Why Lawrence Durrell? Why now, why in this context? Is Lawrence Durrell
>>> still a name with which to be conjured in 2007?  If so, for what values and
>>> against what values does Scruton expect Lawrence Durrell to stand, to be
>>> understood to stand by readers of the Sunday Times?  Will we see a reply to
>>> Scruton in the Guardian with a corresponding sinking of Lawrence Durrell? 
>>> Have Edward Said and Lawrence Durrell become inextricably entwined in some
>>> sort of posthumous Manichean polarity--cartoons of themselves, really--to be
>>> made use of as necessary by the those politicos (liberal, jingoist, what
>>> have you) involved in the British culture wars?"
> All of this bears tracking because it influences how people outside the ILDS
> and this listserv hear our cases, our arguments for reading Durrell.  It
> really does shape a lot of expectations and responses--"Oh.  Lawrence
> Durrell.  Hmmmm.  A Durrellian, are you?  That lot.  Well, from what I have
> heard. . . ."  Believe me, my experience with multiple colleagues who came
> through Cambridge shows that sort of suspicion of Durrell as "lit for the
> poncy set" is prevalent. 
> Charles

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