[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:

>Michael:
>
>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 
Cracksman/. 

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.]

    FROM THE OED:
    *

>     *[< 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