[ilds] Bitter Lemons

Richard Pine richardpin at eircom.net
Tue Jul 3 01:07:16 PDT 2007


Michael
Today the kids are taught theory first and literature (if at all) second. 
They therefore read (Durrell) not for what (Durrell) wrote but for the 
Derridaftness they have been taught to detect within the text. Their 
con-text is the theory, not the context in which (Durrell) conceived or 
wrote the book.
RP
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Michael Haag" <michaelhaag at btinternet.com>
To: "Bruce Redwine" <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>; <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
Sent: Monday, July 02, 2007 10:02 PM
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.
>
> :Michael
>
>
>
>
> 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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