[ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 5, Issue 5

Sumantra Nag sumantranag at gmail.com
Thu Aug 9 23:03:02 PDT 2007


Since my memories have struck a chord, I thought I would complete the thread 
of recollection - as briefly as possible - with my experience at Jesus 
College, Cambridge University, England, where I went to study science in 
1967 from St.Stephen's College, Delhi. Very shortly after my arrival at 
Cambridge, I was in the bar one evening at Jesus College, after a meeting of 
the Literary Society of the College and I was holding forth on the evocative 
quality of Lawrence Durrell's writing. In our company in the bar, was an 
undergraduate student of English Literature, whose name I don't recall - but 
who, unknown to me, may well be a well-known figure today! He was a lot more 
dismissive of Durrell's writing. I still remember his mentioning Steinbeck 
as one of the writers who had already displayed some of the qualities of 
powerful writing which had impressed me in Durrell. Beside me was a 
prominent Irish graduate research fellow of English Literature from Jesus 
College, whom I later got to know, and who had attended our poetry reading 
session at the just concluded meeting of the Literary Society. He was 
enthusiastic in his support of my arguments about Lawrence Durrell. I later 
found that he had visited Alexandria, but in his own words, had found the 
city "terrible".

So, here - in the College where incidentally, Terry Eagleton was  then 
teaching English - were two quite different reactions to Lawrence Durrell, 
expressed by two very scholarly young students of English Literature!

I later spoke about Lawrence Durrell and the Alexandria Quartet to many of 
my undergraduate friends in College, among whom were students of the English 
Tripos. But I found no particular enthusiasm for his writing, and in the 
general atmosphere of England and Cambridge in the late 1960s - so different 
from what I had imagined! - I felt that the romanticism of Durrell at least, 
was out of place.

So much for now!

Message: 4
Date: Wed, 08 Aug 2007 10:08:18 -0400
From: slighcl <slighcl at wfu.edu>
Subject: Re: [ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 5, Issue 4

On 8/8/2007 5:22 AM, Sumantra Nag wrote.......:

1. During the 1960s, the Alexandria Quartet and also the books of the Beat
Generation created genuine interest among us - I mean students in Delhi
University, and perhaps in St. Stephen's College in particular - when I was
a student there........

This anecdote restores perspective for me, Sumantra, and I thank you.
My remarks about the falling off of reading in public spaces have their
special time and place.  I write from  the Southeastern United States in
2007, amazed at the lengths that undergrad students of all majors and
types will go to to avoid reading books which can be positively
recreational, in the fullest sense.  Dear.  I sound like Matt Arnold.

It is good to recall that reading Durrell's /Quartet /&c. will express
different interests and stand for different things in different places
and times.


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