[ilds] Bitter Lemons

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 2 14:53:50 PDT 2007

Yes.  I take "context" in a broad sense:  the author's work, life, interests.


-----Original Message-----
>From: Michael Haag <michaelhaag at btinternet.com>
>Sent: Jul 2, 2007 2:02 PM
>To: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>, ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] Bitter Lemons
>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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