[ilds] John Press on Durrell's poem

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Wed Sep 19 12:14:22 PDT 2007

Bill, no argument here.  It takes a long time to make sense of some poems, and Durrell's are often a hard nut to crack.  "Puzzled out" is a good way to put it.  I think LD writes in a personal code, which is not readily accessible, so anyone not familiar with his life and work will run into problems, perhaps as J. Press did.  I would not expect "puzzled out" to yield clarity, however.


-----Original Message-----
>From: william godshalk <godshawl at email.uc.edu>
>Sent: Sep 19, 2007 11:31 AM
>To: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>, ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: John Press on Durrell's poem
>Charlie cites John Press:
>Press, pp. 178-179, comments briefly on our poem. First Press 
>comments on Eliot's use of imagery "to evoke the desired mood in 
>their readers. A comparatively simple example of the way a poet 
>flicks from one image to another occurs in Lawrence Durrell's 
>'Journal in Paris.' . . . We are clearly not meant to dwell on any 
>one of these feverish images, whose purpose is to convey the 
>insecurity and anxiety of the diarist. This rapid switching from one 
>jagged image to the next is in marked contrast to the technique 
>employed by Dylan Thomas . . . ."
>If we are "clearly not meant to dwell on any one of these feverish 
>images," we have really gone wrong here. But I see Press covering for 
>himself. He's really saying, "I can't put these images together into 
>a meaningful narrative, therefore I'm clearly not supposed to." As an 
>academic I've seen this flimflam over and over again.
>It seems to me that any  poem is a puzzle. Well maybe not "cold beer 
>/ sold here," the great American poem. But from Homer to the present, 
>poems have needed to be interpreted, puzzled out. And some times it 
>takes a very long time to figure out what a poem means.

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