[ilds] Bitter Lemons

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 2 12:28:55 PDT 2007

James, good to have a companion here.  Good summary.  I'm with you on your points 2-3, but can't go along with 1 and 4.  As for 1, authors are probably always reworking reality to suit their ends, so I don't know what "reality usurps literary interventions" means.  And as for 4, I just don't believe Barthes's axiom and will not turn a literary work over to the whims of the reader.  Now, you may say the proposal that Othello influences Bitter Lemons is a whim, but I say I tried to anchor that allusion in its appropriateness to the text and Durrell's life/method.


-----Original Message-----
>From: James Gifford <odos.fanourios at gmail.com>
>Sent: Jul 2, 2007 9:54 AM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] Bitter Lemons
>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.
>Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> How inconvenient, but only a minor inconvenience. 
> > Let's not be deterred by facts.
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