[ilds] RG Justine -- book reviewing for fun and profit

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Tue May 29 08:19:52 PDT 2007


There is no evidence whatsoever that Eagleton skimmed the book for 
essential facts.  A reviewer is meant to review the book in question; 
that requires some evidence that he has read it, some attention to it 
somewhere in his review.  That care, that attention, that respect, that 
integrity is utterly lacking.  The review is an outright disgrace.  It 
is an offence to Durrell, an offence to MacNiven, and most of all it is 
an offence to the readers of the review.  Why does the Durrell School 
have such people addressing it?

:Michael


On Tuesday, May 29, 2007, at 03:51  pm, Durrell School of Corfu wrote:

> The aggressiveness which M Haag turns onto people who either disagree 
> with
> him or, worse, contradict him, is disturbing. Bull in a china shop is
> nothing like this. It is perfectly clear that Eagleton had, at least,
> skimmed the book for essential facts. The fact that E dislikes D and 
> says so
> is nothing to do with his reading of MacNiven (Ian, do you read these
> messages?). Any prejudiced reviewer (and all reviewers are prejudiced) 
> will
> twist the book under review to display those prejudices. M Haag cannot 
> prove
> that Eagleton did not read (at least) parts of MacNiven, and his 
> statement
> that E is a 'liar' is absolutely unfounded. I hold no candle for E (or 
> for
> MacN for that matter) but this snide attacking is quite uncalled for 
> and out
> of place - if you have evidence, produce it. If you don't, stay silent 
> (I
> think it was Wittgenstein who started that,...)
> Cmon Michael, finish the book you were supposed to deliver last autumn 
> so
> that we can review it.
> RP
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Michael Haag" <michaelhaag at btinternet.com>
> To: <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
> Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 5:11 PM
> Subject: [ilds] RG Justine -- book reviewing for fun and profit
>
>
>> In his review of MacNiven's biography of Lawrence Durrell, Eagleton
>> makes a number of broad remarks about Durrell's work, expressions of
>> his views on the literary worth of Durrell's poetry and novels.
>> Whatever one thinks of Eagleton's points of view, these remarks offer
>> no indication that he read the biography.
>>
>> I have picked out from the review the statements of fact made by
>> Eagleton.  These offer the only indication that he may or may not have
>> read the biography.  In every case his statements are false and can
>> readily be falsified by reference to the biography.  If this is what
>> people like Eagleton and Richard Pine practice in the name of book
>> reviewing, it would be better if they grew turnips.
>>
>> :Michael
>>
>>
>>
>>>>> Born in India in 1912, the child of
>>>>> an affluent engineer, he spent the rest of his life drifting like a
>>>>> literary playboy from one fancy European hotel to another.
>>
>> -- Durrell was indeed born in India in 1912 to a successful self-made
>> father.  But it is untrue that Durrell spent the rest of his life
>> drifting from one fancy European hotel to another.  He lived in no
>> hotels at all, except as a boy when his mother briefly lived at a
>> residential hotel (which she did for economy) in south London, or
>> during his first period in Corfu when looking for a home, or briefly
>> when a refugee in Egypt.  He worked the whole of his life, from before
>> his majority until his dying day, entirely supporting himself through
>> jobs and his writing -- the exceptions being the year 1934 when he
>> lived in a cottage in Sussex and the years 1936-39 when he lived in
>> Corfu, and of course during these exact years he wrote three novels 
>> and
>> any number of poems.  Not exactly drifting, not exactly a literary
>> playboy; more like hard work.
>>
>>
>>>>> Part of the
>>>>> fag-end of cosmopolitan modernism, he shacked up in Corfu, Athens,
>>>>> Egypt, Rhodes, Buenos Aires, Cyprus and France, changing wives 
>>>>> almost
>>>>> as often as he changed countries. Some of this placeshifting was an
>>>>> attempt to keep one step ahead of the second world war. ... While
>>>>> Hitler was on the rampage,
>>>>> Durrell was in search of a spot more sunshine.
>>
>> -- As MacNiven's biography makes clear, this place-shifting was
>> dictated by his work; furthermore Durrell attempted to join the armed
>> forces while in Greece.  His positions, which were valuable ones, in
>> Greece and in Egypt put him directly in the path of the invading
>> Germans.  His position in Yugoslavia, not mentioned above, again put
>> him in an extremely exposed position.  Not the behaviour of a shirker.
>> As for the wives, well, bad luck; one had a long history of
>> instability, another died.
>>
>>
>>
>>>>> As a textbook bohemian, Durrell knocked around Paris with Henry
>>>>> Miller
>>>>> and Anais Nin, and loafed about London with Dylan Thomas and a few
>>>>> stray surrealists.
>>
>> -- Durrell did not knock about Paris, nor did he loaf about London.  
>> In
>> each case his visits had purpose and were directly linked to having 
>> his
>> work published.  Durrell specifically rejected bohemianism and
>> surrealism.
>>
>>
>>
>>>>> Loftily contemptuous at first oft S Eliot, he changed
>>>>> his
>>>>> opinion of him overnight when Eliot, then editor at Faber, 
>>>>> published
>>>>> one of his novels.
>>
>> -- Durrell was not loftily contemptuous of Eliot; he did increasingly
>> admire him as their acquaintance developed, most specifically when
>> Eliot rejected the Black Book.
>>
>>
>>
>>>>> He ended up as a bored, taxevading semi-recluse,
>>>>> dying in London in 1990.
>>
>> -- Durrell was not a tax evader.  He did not live in France for any 
>> tax
>> purpose.  He paid all taxes that were due.  He did not die in London.
>>
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