[ilds] Genesis of the Quartet

James Gifford odos.fanourios at gmail.com
Sat May 3 08:46:34 PDT 2008

Hello Peter,

As a moderator, I am powerless to contain your enthusiasms for 
attachments, though I must formally note that copyright is a respectable 
if quaint notion with many social privileges I lack, being merely a 
person.  Ahem.  What do your Epfses look like?

That said, /The Writer's Brush/ is in my local library, and I recall the 
images being quite nice.  Perhaps I'll jaunt up there this afternoon and 
report further.

As for Justine (and Auden), I agree, although in Durrell's case, I don't 
think the revisions diminish the artwork.  I like to have each 
publication of a poem too, though this makes my shelves swell 
increasingly...  I think I previously noted that James Brigham kept a 
very good tally of the poetic variants in his drafts for Durrell's 
/Collected Poems/, and a significant portion of his typescript includes 
variant typed on Durrell's typewriter, though it's impossible to know 
which of them whacked the keys.  Perhaps someone out there knows if LD 
was chummy about allowing others to use his machine?

But for /Justine/, given the context of multiplicity and the persistence 
of multiple editions, I tend to view this as just another indication of 
the shifting ground upon which the work rests.  For instance, apart from 
Beatrice Skordili's brilliant reading through Freud and Russell, I can 
see little reason for the movement of the objects that precipitate drama 
around themselves at the end of /Justine/ (should be the last page, 3rd 
to last paragraph, I believe).  Their enthusiastic contribution to the 
book is quite different in the omnibus, and I can't properly say why 
unless I privilege the revision process as another opportunity for 
Durrell to play his game of contradictory narratives and revolving 
doors.  They change because change is the norm an permanence the 
masquerade, and such an idea is better shown than said.

Despite his penchant for waxing philosophical, I think a major part of 
Durrell's appeal is his ability to show rather than tell at the right 
moment.  I read enough material that tells me -- when I turn to fiction, 
I'd rather be shown...

My best,

> There may be no final state because for each of us our interpretaion 
> relies on the state of mind as we read. Auden revised and we lose, I 
> think, the edge of his 30's beliefs in the later revisions.
> I have just finished /Justine /and query the ultimate structure of the Q 
> against the n-dimensions we see defined by P in the Consequential Data 
> in /Justine /and which must reflect the thinking behind this single 
> novel.And I am wondering if much of it reflects D's grief at the loss of 
> Nancy; are the feelings he reflects on the departure of Justine a mirror 
> of his own feelings as Nancy left?
> I have a couple of original Durrell - sorry, Epfs - paintings.
> Does the moderator, James, authorise pictorial attachments to these emails?
> In which case I can photograph a couple in their frames an attachment
> Are readers aware of : /The Writers Brush:Paintings, Drawings and 
> Sculpture by Writers. /Ed Donald Friedman. Minneapolis, Mid-list Press. 
> ISBN - 978 - 0 -922811 - 76 - 2 . US $40. Contains two colour 
> reproductions of Durrell paintings /C'est LUI! /(sic) and /Music./ I 
> have seen neither before. They are attributed to the Artinian Collection.
> A Google Search takes me to the Library collection at Austin, Artinian 
> being a colector of 20th cent French writers - but the library catalogue 
> reveals nothing of these paintings.
> There is a review of the book, but no ref to LD, in the London Guardian 
> Review sectionj for 29th Dec 2007.
> Peter/Delos
>  > Date: Fri, 2 May 2008 14:39:54 -0700
>  > From: bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
>  > To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>  > Subject: Re: [ilds] Genesis of the Quartet
>  >
>  > 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.
>  >
>  >
>  > Bruce
>  >
>  >
>  > -----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
>  > >interesting.
>  > >
>  > >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.
>  > >
>  > >Best,
>  > >James
>  >
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