[ilds] DG Justine -- Durrell and Borges

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Thu Jun 7 08:31:19 PDT 2007

On 6/7/2007 2:49 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:

> Bill, thanks for the tip about Borges's "The Immortal."  I read it.  
> The day is "late."  So, I don't think that's Durrell's source, unless 
> you want to say time runs backwards:  a story published in 1962 
> influences a story written around 1955.  Nor does the fantastic tone 
> of the Borges story match Durrell's, which sounds to me closer to 
> Arrian's factual account.  But I must credit your cleverness:  for 
> trying to slip in some evidence on the plagiarism debate.  Isn't that 
> what the story is all about, demonstrating the inevitability of 
> plariarism?  I.e., in the end, everyone's words will get all mixed 
> together, and there'll be no distinguishing anyone from anyone else?

Hi Bruce.  Sorry for any confusion.   Bill is handling my notes while I 
am on the run across Europe.  Thanks, Bill!

The story you want is "Los inmortales" -- /Los Anales de Buenos Aires/ 
vol 2, no. 12. Buenos Aires, February, 1947.  1962 is only one of the 
dates when the story appeared in English translation.

I am less interested in influence, but not disinterested if something 
was there.  Rather, I am asking about similarity, confluence--even what 
Bill calls shared or  borrowed idiolect--and just noting that both men 
depict these "lost legions" (admittedly one group is hellenistic and the 
other roman) retold in an aprocyphal, dream-like tone. 

As a "lapsed Classicist," my interest has always been drawn by Durrell's 
use of tone and allusion in Nessim's dreams.  I think that Michael may 
have written here that there is a deal of Forster's historical vision of 
Alex being channeled.   There is indeed something mediumistic about the 
prose and that makes me always look forward to it.  (While not 
"classical," some of Scobie's dreams about his brother falling to his 
death &c. also work in this tone.)  I had also read Flaubert's /Salammbo 
/and /Trois Contes/ in highschool at about the same time as I read 
/Justine/.  When I read Borges's tale several years after /Justine/, I 
thought to myself here is another little point of confluence for these 
two authors who shared some geography in Argentina and held contemporary 

Borges and Durrell were in fact in the same room at a cocktail party 
while Durrell was lecturing in Argentina.  I do not recall if Ian wrote 
about that or told me about the incident so many years ago.  I seem to 
recall that there was some mutual suspcion.  But then years later 
Durrell in one of those inspired moments of eclectic namedropping 
mentions that his real contemporaries are Borges and Kazantzikis.  Again 
all from my memory as I am in Ghent right now and have no books.

Rambling on to the "kuip."


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

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