[ilds] baboonism

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Sat Jul 7 22:14:40 PDT 2007


I am certainly not saying that Durrell remains unchanged.  He does 
change; he has experiences, he reflects on them, he saddens, he grows, 
etc; but he is still recognisably Durrell.  And what Durrell may say 
about human character in an interview (or in a book) does not alter 
that continuity that we read in his work.

:Michael



On Sunday, July 8, 2007, at 06:02  am, James Gifford wrote:

> Bruce responds to me by writing:
>
>> [Durrell] is a single personality with a unique
>> vision and a unique manner of expressing it.
>> That's what we read and respond to.  He is a
>> self with a core identity
>
> Michael says something akin, though there is an important distinction:
>
>> In both cases, Prospero and Bitter Lemons, and
>> in Marine Venus too, Lawrence Durrell is there.
>> Always the same man.  Moving through time and
>> from place to place, reflecting on his experiences.
>
> The difference is that Michael hasn't said that the Durrell behind the
> text is the same as the narrator, though the "always the same man" 
> seems
> to equate to Bruce's "core identity."
>
> Again, I have strong sympathies for these approaches, but for the 
> former
> in particular, I still can't accept it.  First, this notion of the
> discrete personality that does not change and admits no internal
> contradictions would seems to run entirely contrary to Durrell's
> authorial intentions.  By your own admissions, that means you can't
> accept it...
>
> Besides, the worldview of the Durrell who wrote _The Black Book_ and
> wrote back against Herbert Read's expressions of Surrealism's political
> agenda is sure not the same worldview of the Durrell who wrote _The
> Revolt of Aphrodite_ or the _Avignon Quintet_.  Also, before we break
> this down into "left" or "right" for these worldviews, let's just admit
> that those are useless terms for anything specific.
>
> As for core identities, perhaps the author himself should speak (not
> that any of us trust him, so we're just speculating about the author's
> intentions, filling in the silences according to our own needs and
> desires, as per the ending of _Justine_).  In the "Kneller Tape,"
> Durrell says:
>
> "Human character? A sort of rainbow I should say, which includes the
> whole range of the spectrum. I imagine that what we call personality 
> may
> be an illusion, and in thinking of it as a stable thing we are trying 
> to
> put a lid on a box with no sides."
>
> I respect what you're saying Bruce, and I can appreciate the reasoning
> behind it, but I can't accept it in this context.  Again, perhaps we'll
> just have to disagree.
>
> Best,
> James
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