[ilds] Corfu memoirs &

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Wed Jul 4 10:21:10 PDT 2007


Beauty, darkness, vehemence -- do those three words from the poem "Bitter Lemons" have a female reference?  So Jamie suggests, and I find that intriguing, never having understood how those words worked in the poem.  Yes, I have another gut feeling that there's something to Jamie's observations about the role of women in Durrell's works.  I don't think, however, it's useful to place his women along a continuum of feminists to misogynists.  Women haunt Durrell and take many forms.  No women in Bitter Lemons, to speak of.  It's like being in a military camp.

Bruce

-----Original Message-----
>From: James Gifford <gifford at uvic.ca>
>Sent: Jul 4, 2007 9:54 AM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] Corfu memoirs &
>
>I've always been troubled by how Nancy was 'silenced' in _Prospero's
>Cell_, and I can see a gender bias potentially running through
>Durrell's works (think of Hilda in -The Black Book_, contemporary to
>the Corfu years, but then what about Constance?).  Yet, I'm also
>partly aware of Durrell preference for keeping his home life private.
>Written years later and after a divorce, he chose to subltly minimize
>her presence and Gerald chose not to refer to her at all.  It may
>simply be tactful.  Better leave the rest unsaid...
>
>Moreover, this isn't a single instance for Durrell.  Where is Eve in
>_Bitter Lemons_, Claude and Sappho in "Oil for the Saint," or the less
>prominant presence in  _Reflections on a Marine Venus_?  Rather than
>censoring or weakening female voices, I suspect Durrell may have
>simply preferred not to intrude on their private lives or not make
>them public -- nonetheless, it is intriguing that while he included
>several male friends by name, he lists virtually no females (wives,
>lovers, or friends) in his travel books as participating in the
>significant discussions.  Leaving his private life aside, that seems
>like a discontinuity between the fiction and the pseudo-non-fiction.
>In the fiction the role of women is confused but hardly 'weak' -- I'm
>never sure where to place those text along a spectrum from feminist to
>misogynist, but I don't think it slots into just one place very
>comfortably, skipping back & forth from one end to the other at
>different moments, even within the same text.  But, isn't that true of
>so many authors?
>
>Best,
>James



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