[ilds] Genesis of the Quartet

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Fri May 2 14:39:54 PDT 2008

Putting every stage or state of an author's work "on the table" is an interesting idea -- for critics -- but not one, I think, that most writers would want to allow.  Perhaps Durrell believed this was desirable, but I question his seriousness.  I like to think that works have a final form and that most authors prefer to see theirs finalized.  Openendedness is a nice idea, but I don't give equal weight to all versions, mutatis mutandis, of course.


-----Original Message-----
>From: James Gifford <odos.fanourios at gmail.com>
>Sent: May 2, 2008 11:29 AM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] Genesis of the Quartet
>> Knowing that the author who wrote them was also 
>> nosing his way forward and still discovering his crucial form adds to 
>> the aesthetic of the novels.  And calling them in a corporate fashion 
>> /The Alexandria Quartet/ seems to bind the books down in a way that I 
>> favor less and less.
>I agree very much here, Charles.  Out of curiosity, what if we were to 
>insist on having all the variants of Joyce's /Dubliners/ or /Ulysses/ on 
>the table at the same time, or for that matter, even /finengans wake/. 
>Just because the author eventually endorsed a single edition (kinda...) 
>doesn't meant that we should send every other state to the trash bin of 
>history -- I think that Durrell delights me, even if only in part, 
>because it's so terribly difficult to hold to such fictions of unity 
>with him.
>I'm reminded of LD's attempt to revise /Tunc/ and /Nunquam/, which 
>didn't appear -- would that have made a distinct /Revolt/ (albeit under 
>another title)?  I'm still terribly caught by my first reading of the 
>Quintet, in which I think the author's discovery of the book during the 
>process of writing is hard to ignore.  It's part of what makes the work 
>Charles, I'm guessing here, but would you like to have each of the four 
>volumes *and* /The Alexandria Quartet/ in addition?  Hmmm.
>I was asked by a student earlier this term during a presentation for a 
>course that was not my own (I spread out the 1922 'Ulysseses' and 'Waste 
>Lands' among their compatriots in the library) why bibliographers want 
>the first version of the work rather than the last -- I said that's an 
>old lie.  Bibliographers want /all/ versions at the same time.  Durrell 
>is one who makes me want the first vision, the final revision, the 
>in-between, and yet at no point do I feel as though I'm entering into 
>some Kundera-esque censorship of history, no matter how much he 
>"elaborates"...  Each change stays on the table as an option.

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