[ilds] podcasts

James Gifford odos.fanourios at gmail.com
Fri Nov 30 19:32:04 PST 2007

Hello all,

As some of you already know, the conference of the Association of 
Commonwealth Language and Literary Studies (ACLALS) last August featured 
two panels on Durrell's works -- both focused on the political issues 
surrounding his works.

Podcasts of those two panels are now available via the ILDS website.  If 
you have comments or feedback (or if you have suggestions for materials 
to add), please post them.


The conference was quite lively, and we were privileged to have the 
participation of Diego Delgado-Duatis, Reed Way Dasenbrock, Harish 
Trivedi, and Marilyn Papayanis in addition to the listed speakers.  I've 
pasted the panel description below here.

Best regards,


"Lawrence Durrell's Neo/Anti-Colonial Aesthetic"

Ranging from a "force for reconciliation" and beyond "an instrument for 
aesthetic pleasure of the privileged," literature also has the sinister 
capacity for propaganda, division, exclusionary elitism, and inciting 
not only misinformation but even hate. Responses to the commonwealth 
author Lawrence Durrell (1912-90) have traversed this range. In 1962, 
Mahmoud Manzalaoui declared The Alexandria Quartet exhibited an 
"essential falsity of description" and compared Durrell to 
"Mediterranean fortune-seekers... [who] exploited, carved out their 
fortunes, and distorted facts to justify their position." In stark 
contrast, M.G. Vassanji in 2002 located Durrell as a positive 
cosmopolitan influence, and Caryl Phillips notes Durrell's "expatriate 
status greatly influenced his work and he openly acknowledged a 
'love-hate' relationship with Britain."  Such conflicts are continued in 
the 2006 proceedings of the Durrell Society's conference in Egypt, 
Durrell in Alexandria.  This scope reflects ongoing debate, especially 
as Durrell's nationless status was revealed in 2002—born in India yet 
not Indian and never holding British citizenship despite working as a 
British civil servant.

	These panels re-examine Durrell's place in Commonwealth literature, 
coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the publication of the first 
volume of his magnum opus, The Alexandria Quartet, a work that recalls 
the height of the British Empire on the cusp of World War II but from 
the perspective of a post Suez Crisis Egypt and an empire in retreat 
during ENOSIS on Cyprus. This panel also takes particular interest in 
his autobiographical first novel, Pied Piper of Lovers (1935), which 
recounts his childhood in pre-partition India and traumatic return 
'home' to Britain. Biographically, this early tension in Durrell's life 
between Mother India and Father England informs his continuously 
problematic position as a colonial and expatriate.

	At the 2004 session of the Durrell School of Corfu, Gayatri Spivak and 
Terry Eagleton illustrated the difficulties within Durrell's works that 
have resulted in his relative exclusion from postcolonial studies of 
commonwealth literature: i.e. his ironic narrative voice in opposition 
to the kitsch exoticism of the 1950s and 60s. Drawing on the 
biographical complexity of his early position in Empire, these two 
panels discuss the conflicts between Durrell’s Orientalist exoticism, 
his longstanding Philhellenism, his works' ethical examination of 
alterity, irony in his neocolonialism, and his critiques of Imperialist 
power from within its privilege.  Also under consideration is the impact 
of his various mid-life diplomatic postings to sites of hybridity and 
disjunction: Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Egypt, Argentina, and Greece.

	The aim of these panels is to enliven the question proposed by the 
conference: "Is literature a force for reconciliation and cross-cultural 
understanding or only an instrument for aesthetic pleasure of the 
privileged?" Debate surrounding this question in Durrell's oeuvre is 
pressing, and as such he offers a complex conduit through which to 
discuss ACLALS's theme.


Panel 1 -- Fifty Years After The Alexandria Quartet: Ethics + Aesthetics

--James Gifford, University of Victoria "Silence and Speaking -- 
Politicized Irony in Durrell’s Spirit of Place"
--Isabelle Keller, Université Toulouse-le-Mirail "The Discourse of/on 
Faith in Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet"
--Dianne Vipond, California State University Long Beach "The Politics of 
Durrell's Major Fiction"

Panel 2 -- Durrell in Relation: Cyprus, India, Serbia, Egypt

--John Bandler, McMaster University "Durrell's Cyprus—Tainted 
Observations on the Colonial and Postcolonial"
-- Nabil Abdel-Al, United Nations "The Cave: A Hideout for Conciliation 
with the Self & the Elements in Durrell’s An Irish Faustus and White 
Eagles over Serbia vs. E. M. Forster's A Passage to India"
--Peter Midgley, University of Alberta "Lawrence Durrell's Mountolive 
and André Brink's The Ambassador: The Colonizer and the Colonized's 

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