[ilds] Durrell and the Academy

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Wed Jul 18 17:22:18 PDT 2007

On 7/18/2007 6:23 PM, Pamela Francis wrote:
> (I can't believe that "Durrellian" has a negative connotation, 
> Charles!  I love being a Durrellian!)
I am with you, Pamela.  The adjective means "friend" and "brave one" to 
me.  But from early on to more lately others have used the modifier in a 
different sense.  Cf. the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of 
"Durrellian" for the variations on this theme:

        *Durrellian, a.*

        Of or pertaining to the English writer Lawrence Durrell (born
        1912), or his style. Also Durre{sm}llesque a.

        1961 New Statesman 21 July 92/3 In the background there is that
        damned baroque sea, going through its daily transformations in a
        spray of Durrellian metaphors. 1961 Spectator 22 Dec. 922 The
        Durrellesque fantasy of a Coptic-Zionist alliance. 1966
        Economist 17 Sept. 1152/3 One or two of the portraits, notably
        that of the old Imam Ahmad of the Yemen, are almost Durrell-ian
        gems. 1970 Guardian 26 Mar. 11/6 The usual Durrellian whirligig
        of allusions and illusions, quotes and echoes.

Cf. also the 1967 TLS review of Cortazar's /Hopscotch/: "Unfortunately 
there is a great deal of pretension in /Hopscotch/[. . . .] Oliveira's 
amorous exploits in Paris are just a bit too exotic, and their 
description is often very poor sub-Durrell." 

It is no small thing to contribute an adjective to the English 
language.  We can work to make it mean something more full and more 
accurate, I think.


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

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