[ilds] RG Justine 3 -- the great duck shoot

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Tue Jun 5 00:10:36 PDT 2007

On 6/5/2007 3:45 AM, william godshalk wrote:

>Perhaps it's time to move on from the internecine battle over 
>borrowing to a discussion of Nessim's historical dreams (if indeed 
>they are his) and the duck hunt on Lake Mareotis. You know my 
>recurrent question: why these rather than something else?
I am heading out to the coast this morning, but although I do not have 
my /Justine /with me I cannot pass this up.  The duck shoot as we have 
said is different in many ways.  It is one of the oldest parts of 
/Justine/, existing in some earlier state(s) before Durrell knew that he 
was writing a novel called /Justine/.  But having admitted its textual 
difference from some of the surrounding materials, I am struck past and 
present by how the insertion of the duck shoot right here in Durrell's 
narrative provides a departure, a sense of difference in the 
storytelling style, as if all of that tension built up in all of 
Darley's endless, recursive retrospecting now comes free--like the 
clogged drain in his dirty little kitchen at Pombal's flat?--and the 
necessary movement occurs.

When you test the duck shoot against any other episode in /Justine/, you 
find there is not another section of sustained, straight-forward (at 
least temporally!) narrative.  And it is tremendously effective, both in 
its beautiful description of the masculine culture of hunting--falling 
to sleep to the drowsing sound of what Faulkner called "old tales and 
telling"; being woken gently by Nessim; the first stray ducks and the 
first snaps of shots in the distance; &c.--and in its canny use of an 
apparently straight-forward narrative style to couch Darley's anxieties 
about what Nessim is up to and to disguise the deeper plots.

Now for Victoria Station.


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

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