[ilds] Bitter Lemons

James Gifford odos.fanourios at gmail.com
Mon Jul 2 09:54:29 PDT 2007


Bruce notes the inconvenience of biography or fact in literary reading, 
which prevents a reader from spotting allusions or affinities.

I think this is a general point -- Durrell wrote an opening to _Bitter 
Lemons_ that coincides nicely with his previous allusions to Shakespeare 
and conjured up a 'readerly' allusion to "Othello."  Why would fact 
prevent that reading?  Durrell did write it (or at least it's in his 
book...), so the possible allusion stands, regardless of its origins.

I see a few possibilities (and we've been tripping over these lately in 
reading _Justine_):

1) when a fictional incident is based on biography or history, we are 
barred from literary readings.  Despite appearing in a work of fiction, 
reality usurps literary interventions.

2) autobiography or history is open to literary readings because, even 
in telling the truth, I can tell it in a way that draws on a rich vein 
of literary tradition.

3) we must rely on the author's intended effects, privileging (there's 
that word, Michael) it over the reader's experience -- or, vice versa...

4) we rely on the text ready to hand -- an author's intentions are 
always open to doubt, so we have the death of the author and the 
long-awaited birth of the text.

Personally, I'm something of a bastard.  I like to use all four 
approaches (5 with the dual options in #3) whenever they suit me.  And 
since I'm the one holding the book or writing the new text about it, 
I'll keep doing exactly as I like -- hopefully I tend to pick the one 
that's most exciting for the occasion.

Also, one of the reasons I like Durrell is that all five often operate 
quite well at the same time.

Best,
James

Bruce Redwine wrote:
> How inconvenient, but only a minor inconvenience. 
 > Let's not be deterred by facts.


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