[ilds] Bitter Lemons as a novel

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Sun Jul 15 18:37:06 PDT 2007

On 7/15/2007 8:42 PM, Michael Haag wrote:
> Charles, thank you for that. So it comes down to a lack of utility and 
> a lack of seriousness of purpose. More that, perhaps, than even his 
> announced conservatism? 
I would have this tested by several others, but in short, yes, I think 
that this reading is true.  I would never want to skirt Durrell's 
independence of mind and abiding suspicion of higher politics.  I think 
that you call this independence and skepticism about progress 
"conservatism" here.  Is that right?  Durrell's skepticism about 
progress, of course, does not mean that he accepted or endorsed 
injustice. I think Durrell sees the problems in Cyprus quite clearly.  
He is frank about the British community and their suburban ways.  And I 
think that in /Bitter Lemons/ he is made abundantly aware of the ways in 
which several of his new neighbors hold too easy prejudices against the 
English.  Ultimately, Durrell seeks out local, personal occasions for 
remedying these misunderstandings.  Yet I can find nowhere in Durrell 
much hope that matters will be righted through political progress.  
Maybe in the smaller /polis/--the /cafe /and the /taverna/--but not in 
the synods and parliaments of man. 
> Durrell's *sense of revolt,* if it is noticed at all, is not expressed 
> in the right terms, and his ultimate crime is seen as self-indulgence.
Yes, perhaps for those who are careless and presumptive, "Durrell's 
sense of revolt" is a problem.  I think that Eagleton's review captures 
something illustrative.  He clearly reads Durrell as taking the easy way 
through life when he is not benefiting from the system.


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

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