[ilds] Women in Durrell's writing

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Wed Jul 4 14:28:06 PDT 2007

What an excellent preface to Bitter Lemons (truly).  Two comments.  One, paragraph two would also make an excellent plot outline for a story (I shall plagiarize it sometime).  I love Zorbian catastrophes.  And two, Durrell does seem more comfortable with males.  Women get the plots going and stir up things and provide the mystery, but males are the ones you can sit down with, share a bottle of wine, and have a good chat.  E.g., Deeds, the vet of Monty's 8th Army in Sicilian Carousel.  Same goes for the males in Bitter Lemons.  Nothing novel here (Australians know about this), and Durrell seems to be tapping into a universal spring.


-----Original Message-----
>From: Michael Haag <michaelhaag at btinternet.com>
>Sent: Jul 4, 2007 10:32 AM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: [ilds] Women in Durrell's writing
>Durrell was still married to Nancy when he wrote Prospero's Cell and 
>even then had not given up hope that she would come back to him; indeed 
>they were still married when the book was published in 1945; they were 
>not divorced until 1947.
>Eve could serve no possible purpose in Bitter Lemons; Claude could have 
>played a role, but that would have required a distracting explanation, 
>and she was not brought in.  I know that James makes much of Oil for 
>the Saint, which I do not, but in any case when writing a travel 
>article for Holiday magazine I do not think one wants to bring in one's 
>third wife and the daughter of one's second wife when revisiting the 
>love nest one shared with one's first wife.  And so 'the whole 
>catastrophe', as Zorba called it, was left out.
>I am not sure what more Durrell could have said about Eve in 
>Reflections on a Marine Venus; he already reveals more than is 
>necessary; yet more would be distracting or demand a memoir.
>I do think that discretion is a very strong motive with Durrell, 
>discretion and privacy about personal life, to a remarkable degree, and 
>to a degree which has allowed unfortunate rumour to surround him which 
>otherwise could have been dispelled.  Durrell is always aiming at the 
>timeless, an important reason for the distancing.
>Durrell did have very different relations with men and with women; they 
>were very different types.  The men were more men's men and simpler, 
>less compromising and revealing, to write about.
>The women of Durrell's fiction are, the more successful of them, those 
>numinous presences, those animas, which truly stirred him.  Maybe they 
>were not women at all, but something inside himself.

More information about the ILDS mailing list