[ilds] Sweetness and darkness

James Gifford odos.fanourios at gmail.com
Wed Apr 30 17:23:21 PDT 2008

Bruce, I look forward to this chat!

This is a slippery slope, though I can certainly see the temptations of it:

1. Pursewarden and Piers have incestuous affairs with their sisters...

2. I read "Loeb's Horace" as a comment on Durrell's "strong" poets, 
those who's influence he feels most profoundly, and perhaps Keats more 
than any other.  I don't think the ego in those poems places the poet on 
par with with Keats or Horace, but he certainly sees himself as capable 
of 'playing ball' with them.  There are many singers far, far better 
than I, but I'd still fell comfortable on the same stage as them...  I 
just wouldn't steal the show!

3. Darkness is indeed a major trope, and I see it as there from the 
beginning.  Take "The Egg" for example, or in the novels, even /Pied 
Piper/ or /Panic Spring/, in which mortality and limitedness plays major 
roles.  Both have beauty, yet et in Arcadia ego...

4. To run with the figure of the author slapping his face in the mirror 
in the morning, what else does Pursewarden do with mirrors?

As an author, Durrell certainly had an egotistical and a journeyman side 
to his literary character.  I just don't think either was particularly 
unusual, even if they are overlooked in many readings.  I recall seeing 
Derek Walcott on a few recent occasions...

But, I do see much, much more to be said for the creation of a public 
face here and also playing with the literary media.  What else comes to 
mind for you?  "Press Marked Urgent" and Sutcliffe in /Monsieur/ come to 
mind.  After all, what's funnier than the "great man" arriving in Venice 
in /Monsieur/ when the reader only sees a fat, ageing author of dubious 
means and inflated self-worth?

What else comes to mind for you?  Personally, I prefer the sweet & sour 
Durrell, so to speak...


Bruce Redwine wrote:
> 1.  Pursewarden commits suicide, so does Piers.  Durrell kills himself with alcohol.
> 2.  Why would Durrell/Pursewarden be interested in his posthumous press?  Isn't this the height of conceit?
> 3.  Durrell holds an interview and says he slaps himself in the mirror every morning and tells himself he's just a worthless shit making a living.  In the Quartet and "Loeb's Horace," he (i.e., Durrell/Pursewarden) displays an ego big enough to take on and beat the likes of Keats, Milton, Horace, and any other writer who might threaten his supremacy of "fine writing." (After all, this is the man dubbed by Miller the next Shakespeare.)  At times LD acts like Hemingway -- both make claims, direct or indirect, to boxing champion of the world of belles-lettres.
> 4.  Durrell is the poet of blue water and Greek light, but he also finds darkness in that "dark crystal" of Prospero's Cell.  Nancy Myers, wife #1, did not take kindly to her portrayal in PC.
> So, which Durrell do you prefer?  He's not all sweetness and light.
> Bruce
> -----Original Message-----
>> From: slighcl <slighcl at wfu.edu>
>> Sent: Apr 30, 2008 10:41 AM
>> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>> Subject: Re: [ilds] the occasional angel & the ladder of alcohol
>> On 4/29/2008 12:16 PM, Vittorio Celentano wrote:
>>> Yorick reminds me of one episode (Top Billing) in the tv series "Tales 
>>> from the Crypt"
>>> Vittorio
>> I don't know that series, Vittorio.  Feel free to explain.
>> I had Pursewarden in mind as a Yorick figure because Pursewarden is 
>> profoundly posthumous.  Even when Pursewarden is alive, the other 
>> characters discuss him as if he has already become a name and not a 
>> person. 
>> And then once Pursewarden heads off to the undiscovered country Darley 
>> and the rest of the living are left to puzzle out who he was, what he 
>> did, and what it meant.  And their answers are ultimately insufficient, 
>> as are our own efforts.
>> That is curious and most ghostly, I think.  Durrell imagining 
>> Pursewarden in 1957 - 1960 is able to imagine some aspect of his own 
>> posthumous moment 1990. 
>> The Yorick figure also works because Durrell's idea of a writer is very 
>> much shaped by his idea of Shakespeare, the Man of Letters--Shakespeare 
>> whose works eclipse the small bits of knowledge that we can glean about 
>> his life.
>> I will let Bill talk more about any of this once he wakes from his 
>> afternoon nap.
>> Puzzling on--
>> Charles
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