[ilds] "doubtless each reader could supply a list of his own"

James Gifford odos.fanourios at gmail.com
Thu Jan 17 12:35:19 PST 2008


> Perhaps Jamie will talk a bit about
> Durrell's reading, something that I 
> know the Durrell School to be
> reconstructing.

Yes, Charles, I'm game for constructing a genealogy for a personality 
through his or her reading list.  Then again, I like snooping through 
people's bookshelves and CD collections while I'm at dinner parties, so 
I'm obviously a disreputable sort...

The DSC has indeed embarked on a the formidable challenge of 
reconstructing LD's known library holdings, pretty well exclusively 
through Richard Pine's herculean efforts.  Richard?  I'm more modestly 
compiling the books or digital images of the originals with marginalia 
as much as my pocketbook and time allows.  So far as I know, Carbondale 
and Nanterre have the best holdings of original books, and UVic just 
inherited Jay Brigham's attempts to reconstruct Durrell's library and 
marginalia, which is impressive.

However, there's a dearth of critical writing on Durrell's marginalia 
and library, despite some of the obviously important things we've 
discussion on this list.  Richard's _Mindscape_ is yet to be outdone in 
this regard or even seriously added to, yet even Richard knows there's 
much to be added and debated.  Bill, apart from Durrell's notebooks, 
have you found his copy of Rex Warner's translation of the Anabasis? 
I've had a ball with some of his psychoanalytic books, religious 
histories, and such, let alone his marginalia in his own books with 
intended revisions never carried out...

What I'd really like to get are LD's copies (or a list of works) that 
includes critical theorists of the 20th century.  Durrell doesn't 
comment on Lacan favourably, but evidently he at least had reading 
contact via David Gascoyne since some time around 1935...  He comments 
on Foucault and Barthes as well, in ways that seem more pointed than 
generalized thoughts on public intellectuals.

Oh, and for the _100 Great Books: Masterpieces of all Time_ by John 
Canning (1966), it wasn't enough to finish the book with Durrell -- he 
was asked to write the Introduction as well.  His comments might be 
useful in out discussion here:

"Of course, one cannot pronounce upon living authors in so easy a 
fashion; the books of the great dead, however, still give off the steady 
glow of their genius."

It seems easier to look to the past for that glow, like a beacon or 
cynosure, and I don't think one can trip through post-war writing 
without finding Durrell lighting some of the friendlier paths.

Best,
Jamie

ps: for my money (not that I bought the paper), I would have liked to 
have seen Pat Barker on the list, along with Malcolm Lowry.  And, having 
seen Derek Walcott read this past summer, not only might I be inclined 
to point out that he really isn't British in any meaningful way, and 
he's not going to displace Homer any time soon...

slighcl wrote:
> On 1/17/2008 10:22 AM, Wilson, Fraser wrote:
>>
>> *The 50 greatest British writers since 1945*
>> *"What better way to start the year than with an argument? The Times 
>> has decided to present you with a ranking of whom they consider the 
>> best postwar British writers, and are awaiting your 
>> responses"..........................*
>>
>> http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article3127837.ece 
>>
>>
>> Durrell absent. Surprised ? Was nice to see Rosemary Sutcliffe creep 
>> in at 49 though.


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