[ilds] authentic

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Sun Dec 2 12:15:30 PST 2007

On 12/2/2007 2:23 PM, william godshalk wrote:
> Charlie quotes Durrell:
>> "I lacked a belief in the true authenticity of people in order to 
>> successfully portray them"  /Justine /(Faber 196).
And we might as well begin with establishing accurate textual 
coordinates for our reading--something not accomplished by Anis's 
floating quotation drawn freely from /Mountolive /or by my original 
person-to-person email to Bill.  It is critical to think about who says 
the words, as well as when they are said, how they are said, and why.

What I mean:  Of course, Durrell the author of /Justine /wrote those 
words. However, within the dynamic fiction of the novel, we are asked to 
believe that an unnamed and naive Darley writes them as he 
retrospectively considers his old self nearing the culmination of his 
personal crisis. 

Pairing the term "authenticity" with each prominent voice/presence in 
the /Quartet /might also bear some returns.  Is Justine authentic?  Is 
Pursewarden authentic?  Is Nessim authentic?  Is Mountolive authentic?  
Those questions hardly seem the point.  Rather, answering those 
questions would show up the impoverished state of our meanings of 
"authentic"--especially in the restrictive way that the al-Ahram article 
wants to insist upon.  All of these characters in different ways 
illustrate divided selves, refracted selves, hidden selves, multiple 
selves, &c--inauthenticity seems their primary condition.  If realism 
was the point--and again I think that Durrell does not lead us there--we 
might say that the most real and "authentic" aspect of these characters 
is their duplicity or multiplicity.

Of course, all of the above characters have obvious connections to the 
elitist and alien cliques that Anis wants to invoke.  (She does fall 
into the trap of believing in some sort of aboriginal or authentic 
Alexandrian.)    So I might try to shift my focus and look at the 
Egyptian "street" as depicted by Durrell.  I'll ask a hard question: 
Does Durrell even care about accuracy or authenticity in his depictions 
of the masses on the streets and in the background?  Should we?  I think 
our different answers--and I accept that there can be different 
answers--will depend upon how wedded we are realism.


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

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