[ilds] an assassin of polish

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Sun Feb 3 15:49:21 PST 2008


I feel responsible for the way in which my copying-and-pasting from a 
pdf doc made a hash of Burgess's prose.  Here is a corrected version--
>
>>         It is a prose-poetry whose rhythms tend to flaccidity and
>>         which sometimes
>>
>>         melts into a romantic wash a little too close to the old
>>         lending-library sadistic-sentimental
>>
>>         exotic escapism beloved of the dreaming shop-girl. For all that,
>>
>>         there are passages which are powerful and masterly-sharply
>>         and exactly observant.
>>
>>         But the final impression is of something shimmering in a
>>         rather old-fashioned
>>
>>         fin de siècle way, suggesting languor and satiety after
>>         elaborate self-indulgence.
>>
>>         The decadence smells of stale incense.
>>
>>         (/The Novel Now: A Guide to Contemporary Fiction/ 97)
>>
Just as a quick reaction to Burgess's pronouncements, I would ask 
Burgess--or perhaps his frittering shade in Hades, supplicated by small 
ponds of bourbon--to point out where the "flaccidity" occurs.  If 
Burgess is thinking of /Justine/, then it all gets a bit more 
complicated.  Context is all.  Durrell has written his prose under 
multiple masks (Darley, Arnauti, Pursewarden, &c.), thus creating the 
"out" or the explanation that it is the prose style of the /Creatures/, 
not the Creator, that has gone "flaccid."  

Once Durrell creates the fiction that /Balthazar /is to follow 
/Justine/, then this game truly becomes genius--revision and 
self-criticism of style as storyline and drama.

Seen in these terms, I think, we can better understand that the "plot" 
of /Justine /is in its prose "style"--when and how the style starts, 
when and how it eddies, when and how it returns to start afresh, and 
when and how it finds or does not find its way to new resources.

Did "shop girls" read such things?  Oh dear. . . .

Charles

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

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