[ilds] Justine - pole star criminal

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Tue Jul 3 12:00:35 PDT 2007

On 7/3/2007 1:53 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:

>Yes, a perverse way to credit the discreditable -- that's my gut reaction.  And isn't that just like Durrell?  I also find the name puzzling:  Ahmed (Islamic?) Zananiri (Italian or European?).  Maybe such weird combinations were common in syncretic Alexandria -- you would know -- but it strikes me as odd and possibly reinforces the oxymoron of "pole-star criminal."
Yes--almost implying gravitational /quality/--or someone capable of 
making off with that grand prize.  I like the association of the last, 
which reaches out to "Raffles," /Gentleman Burglar/ and /Amateur 

Let us recall Hornung.  Durrell did so in his "Minor Mythologies" essay. 

Illustration from 'The Amateur Cracksman' by E.W. Hornung

(And anyone taking note of that Raffles allusion please insert a small 
point of correction in my edition of "The Minor Mythologies."  Hornung's 
name is misgiven there as "/Henning/" in the notes for 347-348.  Oh 
those little signs of mortality that haunt an editor!)

FROM DURRELL's WORKS, early to late:

>>                     THEMES HERALDIC [from Collected Poems: 1931-1974
>>                     (1985), Faber and Faber]
>                     VI
>             Call back the stars. They are too many, Lord.
>             Death takes us man by man. Old wars
>             Covet us with the trumpet, cover us. April
>             Gives in deceit her stammering flowers.
>             Desire like a doom, the boom boom of the surf
>             Tells us. *The slow-motion dive of the pole star *
>             To the rim of the morning, *the meaning of things*,
>             Builds your tent where we are.
>             How shall it be? Caught in the sun's red loom,
>             Be woven to rock, to water, a new manufacture.
>             By the moon drawn, a green dolphin,
>             Up into death sans fracture?
>             Answer. At wedding, at tea-time, in snow?
>             Or in the dog-days, surprised at an oar,
>             In a drawn breath
>             Shall see save me too near the fatal,
>             Your absolute and ghostly impact, Lord,
>             The white yacht---death? 1980//1938/

>         I must begin by saying that his favourite word was precarious:
>         whatever he wrote
>         and thought gravitated towards or away from* that word, his
>         pole-star.*  (/Monsieur/, 39: Viking, 1974)

>         I pondered the war news in the Egyptian Gazette and allowed
>         England a slight ache of nostalgia; but secretly my heart
>         turned to *the Pole Star of Provence*[. . . .]" (/Constance/,
>         62; Viking 1982)

[One additional  reference occurs in /Bitter Lemons/--I'll save that for 
our upcoming discussion.  But the 1957 date places it within reach of 
the genesis of the Workpoints in /Justine/.  Conclusion: Durrell really 
liked pole-stars in 1930, 1957 (x 2), 1974, and 1980.]


>     *[< POLE n.2 + STAR n.1 Cf. POLAR STAR n.*


>         1. a. A prominent star in the constellation Ursa Minor
>     ({alpha} Ursae Minoris) which is close to the north celestial pole
>     and may be used (in northern latitudes) to find the direction of
>     north.

>       Also called lodestar, North Star, Polaris, polar star;
>     {dag}cynosure, {dag}shipman's star.

>       2. fig. A person who or thing which serves as a guide; a
>     governing principle, a guiding light; (also) a centre of
>     attraction, a landmark. Cf. LODESTAR n. 2, CYNOSURE n. 2.

>     1590 E. DAUNCE Briefe Disc. Spanish State 43 Vertue being the
>     lodestone, or polestarre of perfect loue. 1604 T. WRIGHT Passions
>     of Minde IV. ii. §3. 147 Pleasure is the pole-stare of all
>     inordinat passions. 1659 D. PELL
>     {Pi}{epsilon}{lambda}{alpha}{gamma}{omicron}{fsigma} To Rdr. sig.
>     d4, Let this Epistle bee thy Janisary, or Pole-star to the perusal
>     of this book. 1732 G. BERKELEY Alciphron II. VI. xix. 66 Common
>     sense alone is the Pole-star, by which Mankind ought to steer.
>     1798 S. T. COLERIDGE Coll. Lett. (1956) I. 433 It's high huge
>     Steeple..must be quite a Pole-Star. 1834 Tait's Mag. 1 387/2 His
>     moral pole-star was duty. 1890 T. H. HALL CAINE Bondman II. xiii,
>     The pole-star of my life is gone out. 1986 New Scientist 11 Dec.
>     47/1 Price went to southern California (as always the Pole Star
>     for American eccentrics) and organised..the Deluge Geology
>     Society. 2000 J. F. CALLAHAN in R. Ellison & A. Murray Trading
>     Twelves p. xii, Murray seems his friend's polestar, a point of
>     reference he counts on against personal and artistic uncertainties.


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lists.uvic.ca/pipermail/ilds/attachments/20070703/d91a076c/attachment.html 
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: raffles.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 26282 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://lists.uvic.ca/pipermail/ilds/attachments/20070703/d91a076c/attachment.gif 

More information about the ILDS mailing list