[ilds] Durrell and the Academy

James Gifford odos.fanourios at gmail.com
Thu Jul 19 16:17:53 PDT 2007


This is a good observation Bruce:

> the Quinx epigraph:  ". . . must itself create the taste
 > by which it is to be judged."  Durrell is saying he has
 > to create his own audience.  The quotation is, I believe,
 > from Wordsworth's letters.  What is the context?  If we
 > look at the famous Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, we see
 > that Wordsworth was out to turn things around, to break
 > away from popular 18th century poetry and to speak "the
 > real language of men," both in terms of style and content.
 > There is great irony here in Durrell's choice of an
 > epigraph, for his objective is neither of those advocated
 > by Wordsworth.

Durrell knew Wordsworth's works well, and his penguin edition of a 
selection of Wordsworth's poetry shows this (some of his editing work is 
held at l'Universite Paris X -- unless I'm mistaken, he quotes that same 
passage in his Introduction.  Durrell is not after the same objectives 
as Wordsworth, but he had no qualms about appropriating Wordsworth for 
his own purposes; to my mind, that speaks quite a bit about Durrell's 
work and method.

More to the point, for a long time I thought Durrell was a rich writer 
who was sloppy with his allusions and sources, but the more I dug, the 
more I became convinced that he was far more careful than I had 
expected...  I'm sure the Wordsworth epigraph is on that level.  For 
instance, most critics still insist _Quinx_ is his worst work -- I'm 
admittedly odd, but I think it's very strong, but of a different style 
and method, or at least taking the method he had to its extreme 
conclusion.  In that sense, I think he's standing right in line with 
Wordsworth.

Best,
James


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