[ilds] Bitter Lemons

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Mon Jul 2 14:02:24 PDT 2007

What is wrong is to come up with ideas, theories, or whatever about a 
work which are entirely untethered to anything like context.


On Monday, July 2, 2007, at 08:28  pm, Bruce Redwine wrote:

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