[ilds] RG Justine 2.21 -- the French sailor and the child prostitutes

James Gifford odos.fanourios at gmail.com
Wed May 30 12:32:53 PDT 2007

Charles comments:

> Bill you have already pointed out several times how
> non-judgmentally Justine treats its world of rampant
> infidelity, casual sex, inversion, prostitution,
> molestation, pedarasty, solipsism, and fruitless love.


> The other way Durrell shifts what I am calling his
> moral economy--his novel's particular system of moral
> possibilities available to characters and the (lack
> of) punishments meted out for crossing against those
> possibilities--is to leave off the expected moral frame
> that Bill is looking for above

I don't think the frame is left off at all -- in fact, I'd argue that's the
actual frame we're given in the opening epigraphs from Freud and Sade.  We
have Sade's "crime or the noose" versus Freud's "talk."  When the characters
leave the brothel, having rescued Justine but not rescuing the children,
they do not 'talk.'  We're still in the world of Sade.  Later on the island,
Darley recalls this event -- he remembers it and recites it.  He may not
have an analyst present, but this seems like the beginnings of 'talk.'

The moral frame develops, and in order for it to do so, we need to start a
goodly distance below the acceptable.  I think the lack of care for those
children is meant to catch us, or at least it catches me.  By not passing
judgement, Durrell starts us off in the Sadean end of things, but the Darley
who ends the book seems to at least be pointing us in a different direction.


More information about the ILDS mailing list