[ilds] Durrell and the Academy

Richard Pine richardpin at eircom.net
Wed Jul 18 11:07:19 PDT 2007

The most notorious example of exclusion from the Canon is that of the 
Canon-maker extreme, Leavis: 'Durrell is not one of us'; also, his statement 
that Durrell, Miller and Nin 'do dirt on life'.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bruce Redwine" <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
To: <marcpiel at interdesign.fr>; <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2007 6:08 PM
Subject: [ilds] Durrell and the Academy

> On Jul 17, 2007, Marc writes,
>>Since when has there been a relation between
>>"autodidact" and "intellectual development"?
>>Surely not, rather on the contrary it means not
>>under the "stifling" influence of....
>>On the contrary many people have become statesmen
>>and regarded intellectuals despite their lack of
>>schooling: Churchill never completed his
>>schooling, André Malraux never got his
>>bacaleaureat... just to name two that are very
>>different but had an impact on their time and
>>I have a feeling that we are being led astray from
>>the heart of the matter by recent posts....
>>Surely quality writing has nor necessarily
>>anything (sorry) to do with education!
> It would be nice to think so, that higher education has no bearing on a 
> writer's reception.  But nowadays things may not be so simple.  The 
> Academy takes it upon itself to be the arbiter in these matters, what's 
> good and not.  It establishes the "Canon."  Lawrence Durrell did not get 
> the keys to the kingdom with a degree from Cambridge.  Indeed, he failed 
> his entrance exams to that university (maths, I think, did him in) and had 
> to go out and create his own kingdom of the imagination.  Now, LD is not, 
> with isolated exceptions, taught in English speaking colleges and 
> universities.  And Charles further tells us that for a scholar to 
> specialize in Lawrence Durrell is definitely not a good career move. 
> Studying him is something a college professor does on the side, probably 
> surreptitiously so his/her academic colleagues won't find out and raise 
> their eyebrows.  I detect a preponderance of academic hostility to LD, and 
> Dr. Terry Eagleton's vilification of MacNiven's biography, an ad hominem 
> attack on Durrell himself, typifies that attitude.  You have to ask 
> yourself what prompts that amount of disdain.  So, I'm wondering, had 
> Durrell gone to Cambridge and conformed to its standards, would he now 
> have a different standing in British literature?  I think so, but he 
> wouldn't be the writer we now know.
> Bruce
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