[ilds] RG Bitter Lemons -- Epigraphs

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Tue Jul 10 07:34:38 PDT 2007

On 7/10/2007 10:24 AM, Michael Haag wrote:

> (I know we have all heard it, indeed all practised it, but here it is 
> anyway, just to make up the balance.)
> *
> A woman for duty,
> A boy for pleasure,
> But a melon for ecstasy.
> - Old Turkish proverb *

*Amazing proverb.  In a moment of lark, I wonder if this inspired the 
character known as the "melon-mounter" in Cormac McCarthy's /Suttree/? 

Some of these /Bitter Lemons/ epigraphs do come from British reports 
&c.  But the "folkishness" of the others interests me.  Is Durrell 
turning to the sayings of the people in order to tap some deep folk 
wisdom?  Or are we meant to see deep underlying prejudice, a deep 
history for the current problems depicted in /Bitter Lemons/?

Again, Kipling comes to mind.  Kipling would have used epigraphs in both 
ways cited above.  Ultimately, however, he would have used them to 
demonstrate the knowingness of the native folk culture, and then above 
all to demonstrate his own knowingness of the native folk culture.   The 
moral throughout Kipling's stories is more that "human folly is eternal" 
than any attempt at higher politics.


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

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