[ilds] Time and Justine

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Sat Jun 2 13:30:05 PDT 2007

On 6/2/2007 3:15 PM, Ilyas Khan wrote:

> Oh yes, Charles, one thing that I think is probably a bit different 
> from you, is that my reading tends to be of the books as a whole, 
> rather than forays into specfic parts from time to time. That must, I 
> believe, have some impact on our appreciation and perception of the 
> story being told.

Yes, Ilyas, I think the two sorts of reading would naturally make for 
different perceptions and pleasures, Ilyas.  Right now I am reading 
straight through /Justine /along with the RG, pretending, or trying to 
recall my past innocence.  Still to my delight the discoveries come.  
But at other times when I read the /Quartet--/and /Justine 
/especially--I read in the fashion that you have suggested.  Dipping.  
/Sortes Durrellianae/.  Favorite parts taken in assortment, like a 
little collection of sea glass or pieces of jade kept here beside my 
reading chair.  Durrell's narrative form grants me this, I think.  The 
sections set apart in circle or asterisk that we have now distinguished 
by the term "episode" seem at once /arranged /and /portable/--made for 
re-arrangement like leaves fallen from a notebook, or like old photos 
taken from a file and spread out across the table.   The whole of 
/Justine /becomes then "workpoints," "consequential data."

And you mentioned the tactile experience of reading Durrell's books.  I 
have to say that I do not favor reading the /Quartet /in omnibus 
format.  Taking up and setting down /Justine/, /Balthazar/, 
/Mountolive/, and /Clea /as individual volumes gets me closer to what I 
imagine Darley doing at the start of /Justine/, /Balthazar/, and 
/Clea/.  An argument can be made that the /Justine /belonging to the 
/Quartet /collected in one volume in 1962 is a significantly different 
"work" from the stand-alone /Justine /of 1957.  Michael has made a very 
persuasive case based on biographical and textual evidence for how 
Durrell's conception of /Justine /changed, and my own editorial work 
documenting the /Justine /notebooks, typescripts, and published variants 
leads me in the same direction.  I still chuckle when I see Durrell's 
working titles for his /Balthazar /notebooks at Carbondale or the 
corrected typescript out on the west coast.  "Justine II."  The whole of 
the series belonged to Justine at one point and did not suffer other 
characters' names as titles.

And although I am using a 1964 Faber "paper covered" edition of /Justine 
/for the RG, my best reading is always accomplished in the 1957 Faber 
cloth first/first /Justine/.

I identify with your confession about taking down unfamiliar words, 
Ilyas.  I did that too.  In my old Duttons I still have the notecards 
from when I was 15.  "Cicatrice."  "Phthisic."  &c.  The real puzzler 
that I never wrote down--"love."

Keep reading and sharing--


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

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