[ilds] Bitter Lemons

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Tue Jul 3 04:46:49 PDT 2007


Dear Richard

Thanks.

There was a time when theory said that the world was flat.  But before 
that Eratosthenes knew better, and after that Christopher Columbus knew 
better too.  Maybe there should be a course in the history of stupid 
and useless theories.

Ever

Michael




On Tuesday, July 3, 2007, at 09:07  am, Richard Pine wrote:

> 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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