[ilds] Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 'Alexandria Quartet'

James Gifford odos.fanourios at gmail.com
Fri Nov 30 19:45:28 PST 2007


 > Why worry about "Authenticity"?  Why is the pursuit
 > of the "authentic" a valid premise for discussing Durrell?

Ah, the fetish of authenticity...  Haven't we just replaced one 
exoticist projection with another when we do that?  Nicely put, Charles.

I think Durrell quite explicitly denounced the 'authentic' if we take it 
to mean some kind of genuine 'reality' at the heart of things that we'd 
all agree on.  At least, that's how I read his references to the 
'unknown.'  The quiddity of things never really gets fully elucidated, 
or perhaps in Joycean terms, the epiphany never reaches a 'whatness' 
beyond the personal, temporary, and provisional.  We might end _Clea_ 
with the same words that begin _The Portrait of the Artist as a Young 
Man_, but we began the work with the fragments Joyce takes the whole 
novel to achieve.

That said, the performance of the authentic as a fetish is rampant in 
Durrell, and I think it's most common when he has things the most out of 
kilter...  How is it that we all fall into that trap?  I don't exclude 
myself from that at all, and there are things I wish I could go back to 
tidy up in the print record!

One of the works I like to point to for _Justine_ is Salwa Ghaly's essay:

Ghaly, Salwa. "Durrell's and Istrati's Alexandria: Towards Decentering 
the Image of the City." _Arabs and the West: Mutual Images_. Eds. Jorgen 
S. Nielsen and Sami A. Khasawnih. Amman: Jordan University Press, 1998. 
1-13.

Salwa nicely troubles our expectations in several ways.

Best,
Jamie


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