[ilds] Alexandria: From Nasser to Lawrence Durrell

Ilyas Khan ilyas.khan at crosby.com
Fri Nov 30 15:39:55 PST 2007


I also hope that Anis comes onto the board for a broader discussion. Getting
beyond the well worn path of "he was foreign and he was a racist" might not
be possible, but worth a try in my view.

Also, James, wasn't LD in Alexandria in 1942,living with Gwyn Williams ? Its
not just nit-picking here, but having 2 years or more in Alexandria, as
opposed to a few months would make a difference to the view that LD barely
knew the place.

> From: James Gifford <odos.fanourios at gmail.com>
> Organization: University of Victoria
> Reply-To: <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
> Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 09:36:04 -0800
> To: <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
> Subject: Re: [ilds] Alexandria: From Nasser to Lawrence Durrell
> Hello all,
> Charles, I'm very glad to see this posted.  Anis' perspective is one
> that needs more voice.
> That said, the literary element is certainly played down in her
> discussion, and the tone of "why didn't he like us" detracts from her
> valuable contentions.  Most notably, the whip and the racism surrounding
> it overlooks that this is Memlik Pasha holding the whip, and I think
> it's the only reference in _Mountolive_ (a well 'whipped' book) that is
> not directed at Narouz.  The racist perspective on 'Egyptians crying for
> the whip' then, to my mind, is a characterization based on the limited
> narrative frame surrounding him at that point.  I can't imagine the same
> comment coming from a scene limited to the perspectival frame of
> Darley...  But then again, the whip image is nearly synonymous with
> Narouz in that book, and his political position is in desperate need of
> clarification.
> Rather than suggesting that every racist utterance in a novel reflects
> the author, I wonder what this says about the narrator, or perhaps far
> more likely, Memlik Pasha?  I've only just now noticed, while teaching
> _Monsieur_, that the racist comments appear only around particular
> characters (in that instance Sutcliffe rather than Bruce).
> I also think she's overlooked the literary elements of the book -- it's
> almost like setting up a straw man to achieve a pre-determined end based
> on a critique of ideological motivations.  That said, the ideology of
> the _Quartet_ *hasn't* been adequately discussed, and the points she
> raises are real ones.  I'd like to see them go further, and perhaps
> without the constraints of a newspaper article, which I'm sure kept her
> from a full (and perhaps even accurate) presentation of her thoughts.
> I wonder if we can lure her into a productive discussion here?
> Best,
> James

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