[ilds] suburbia, bars, and topers

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sun Jul 8 14:25:51 PDT 2007

And when he steps away from his Dom Hotel, his Xanadu, he enters a Greek bar, Clito's cavern, where he meets "the people," the Cypriot people:  Greeks and a Turk.  He feels at home because he's among fellow "topers," one of whom is "gorgeously drunk."  He also experiences some hostility at being English, but Greek hospitality towards strangers prevails.  However, he takes advantage of that hospitality by telling a boldfaced lie about his brother dying at Thermopylae.  Thereby outwitting the clever Greeks, those masters of intrigue, and demonstrating his superiority as an Englishman, albeit a self-admitted "perfidious" one.

The scene is dramatic, funny, and perfectly timed.  Did it happen?  Could it have happened?  Does that make a difference?  Is it in character with Durrell's personality?  And what's this obsession with "topers?"  Why are they "privileged" and marked for special approval?  And what about the locals?  Do they find their characterization patronizing, another kind of colonization?


-----Original Message-----
>From: Michael Haag <michaelhaag at btinternet.com>
>Sent: Jul 8, 2007 7:56 AM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: [ilds] suburbia and hotels and death
>It is not me but Durrell who brings us back to suburbia, as in the line 
>quoted by Charles below.  This gallery of humours is the Dome Hotel in 
>Kyrenia, 'like every forgotten Victorian pension between Folkestone and 
>Scarborough'.  This hotel motif appears throughout Durrell.  It is the 
>cosmos within which The Black Book operates, that is the Regina Hotel, 
>based on the Queens Hotel in which the Durrell family lived for a while 
>in suburban South London.  In Panic Spring there is another hotel from 
>which the hero sets out on his journey; that one is at Brindisi and is 
>called the Hotel Superbo.  And of course there is the Cecil Hotel at 
>Alexandria, where people stay and people pass and people see one 
>another in mirrors; for all its seeming exoticism, the Cecil is 
>described as 'moribund': 'I had first seen her, in the gaunt vestibule 
>of the Cecil, in a mirror. In the vestibule of this moribund hotel the 
>palms splinter and refract their motionless fronds in the gilt-edged 
>mirrors' (p65).  The Dome Hotel is the location at which Durrell 
>chooses to tell us that he has a stake in neither the English nor the 
>Cypriot world.  But he has already used this device to show us that he 
>has no stake, or is trying hard to have no stake, in this tomblike 
>world -- of which in fact he was so much a part throughout his younger 
>life, including his very British experience of India.  But when he 
>steps outside that world, the Cypriots will try to kill him.  Bitter 
>On Sunday, July 8, 2007, at 12:16  pm, slighcl wrote:
>> Here is a specific sentence to consider, a sentence that I have been 
>> concentrating upon while making yet another summer trip, this time 
>> into the wilds of the Cumberland Plateau:
>> The truth is that both the British and the Cypriot world offered one a 
>> gallery of humours which could only be fully enjoyed by one who, like 
>> myself, had a stake in neither.  ("Voices at the Tavern Door")
>> Readers, whatever your affiliation, affection, or affectation, go to 
>> work on that sentence. 

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