[ilds] Durrell's verbal style -- more questions

MICHAEL HAAG michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Fri Jun 15 16:48:16 PDT 2007

  Next time you meet that woman and find you are uttering to her verbatim not only what is on Maupassant's grave but his complete works and telling her they are your own, you will know the difference between casual assimilatation and something rather more industrious.

Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net> wrote:
  Marc, I like your post. Can you provide the French for "from bottom of my heart?" And do you recall the French on Maupassant's grave?



-----Original Message-----
>From: Marc Piel 
>Sent: Jun 12, 2007 11:52 PM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] Durrell's verbal style -- more questions
>Hello everyone,
>Some of you must have numeric versions of these 
>texts to be able to so easily find "words", etc... 
>It is very difficult for me to follow all of your 
>posts; Quantity and contents an I don't have 
>access to the same material.
>Have you ever suddenly become aware of something 
>that you had never taken any notice of before and 
>suddenly everywhere you turned, everything you 
>did, "it was there"? This can happen for an idea, 
>a word, a colour, a phrase, a concept. We all live 
>in a moveable environment - and it is moving 
>faster and faster - some of us are more or less 
>"sensitive" to it.
>This inevitably happened to LD also (very, very, 
>sensitive), and became part of his writing.
>I recently told a woman (no lewd comments please) 
>that I loved "her from the bottom of my heart".
>I think I had never used that expression in my 
>life and since, everywhere I turn it comes up.
>Even our new french président used it in his 
>inaugural speech and last sunday I was showing 
>some visitors around; we were in a Paris cemetery; 
>discovered Maupassant's grave, and there on an 
>enamelled plate was that expression again.
>Probably, I picked it up unconsciously and used 
>it. Surely this is a natural thing to do and 
>cannot be called "plagarism", or copying, or 
>anything done on purpose. When I read a book, I 
>often note phrases that impress me or that make me 
>think; not sure what I do with them after that. I 
>have piles of little cards and often I don't know 
>what know anymore what their source was - and it 
>doesn't really matter. By the way I am neither a 
>teacher nor a writer; I am a designer - I draw, 
>today on a computer: I'm just just someone 
>interested in ideas, like many people!
>Marc Piel
>slighcl wrote:
>> On 6/12/2007 8:08 PM, william godshalk wrote:
>>> I will offer a challenge. In the past few weeks, we have found that 
>>> some of the material that Durrell uses on pages 177-179 is taken from 
>>> Rex Warner's translation of Xenophon.
>>> (1) Before learning this, did any of you find this passage in Justine 
>>> different from the surrounding material? 
>> Yes. Always. Without a doubt. Some of my favorite prose in Justine. 
>> And I enjoy your discovery of the Xenophon source because I was reading 
>> Justine and the Anabasis at the same early age. (Penguin gave me 
>> both!) Just think, the hidden connections between those books were 
>> gestating all these twenty-something years, waiting for Bill Godshalk to 
>> midwife.
>>> Did anyone think that Durrell was here appropriating material from 
>>> another writer?
>> No. I had at most thought that Durrell was adopting a tone, a style, a 
>> mask.
>>> (2) I imagine that some members of this list didn't pay strict 
>>> attention to this find. If you didn't, could you read these pages and 
>>> distinguish between Durrell's prose and Warner's? In what ways are 
>>> they different in style?
>> I paid strict attention to your find. Even on a train passing through 
>> the Belgian countryside. Glow-worm express.
>>> (3) If you feel that Durrell integrated Warner's prose into his prose, 
>>> could you explain the integration process? What does Durrell add, 
>>> remove, or modify to make Warner into Durrell?
>> 1. "Their enemies were of a breath-taking elegance" -- That is pure
>> Durrell and is a kind of acknowledgment of what he is up to. 
>> Although much of the description of armour &c. comes from Warner's
>> translation of Xenophon, Durrell begins by glossing Warner,
>> copying down Warner's words and glossing them, critiquing them,
>> and elevating them through his imaginative engagement.
>> 2. "With a column on the march memory becomes an industry,
>> manufacturing dreams which common ills unite in a community of
>> ideas based upon privation." -- Durrell loves opening a paragraph
>> with this sort of eighteenth-century period--pithy, confident
>> statements of knowledge that he delivers to an audience expected
>> to nod in agreement. Think about Prospero's Cell: "It is a
>> sophism to imagine that there is any strict dividing line between
>> the waking world and the world of dreams." World-wisdom.
>> 3. "He opened memory to his consciousness royally, prodigally, as one
>> might open a major artery." -- That would have to be Durrell. In
>> Justine and in the poetry arteries and veins abound, especially in
>> conection with thoughts of impending suicide. Antony, Cleo, the
>> whole sick crew.
>>> (4) Or would you argue that Durrell knew that Warner's style was like 
>>> his own, and D would have to change very little to integrate Warner's 
>>> prose?
>> I don't know. I have been revisiting the Warner translation on Amazon, 
>> which offers a concordance, an index of unusual phrases and a searchable 
>> text. I will tell you if Durrell's ghost confesses to my cast of the 
>> digital planchette.
>> C&c.
>> -- 
>> **********************
>> Charles L. Sligh
>> Department of English
>> Wake Forest University
>> slighcl at wfu.edu
>> **********************
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