[ilds] Durrells

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Thu May 8 09:42:50 PDT 2008

I would only add to David's and Charles's discussion that the "puppets" Durrell created, the characters Charles defines as such, were probably important aspects of Durrell's own personality.  Moreover, I don't think the term "persona/personae" is particularly useful in Durrell studies, since I don't see a great deal of difference between Durrell and his major voices.  The man was complex and exploited his own complexity -- that's where his energy went.  I don't see him as having the diversity of, say, a Shakespeare or the "negative capability" Keats talks about in his letters, which involves a suppression of the self in order to assume and inhabit other personalities.  Durrell had a very big ego, and it pops up in Darley, Arnauti, and Pursewarden -- all, in my opinion, facets of the same self.  And at the end of his life, as Charles points out, he was very tired.  He never solved the problem and got all those selves to mesh.


-----Original Message-----
>From: slighcl <slighcl at wfu.edu>
>Sent: May 7, 2008 10:38 AM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] Durrell the pragmatic
>On 5/7/2008 6:14 AM, Denise Tart & David Green wrote:
>> We spoke and wrote earlier of Durrell the pragmatic writer. Here he is 
>> in his own words
>> "When I leave here (Cyprus) I'm going to live in the south of France, 
>> where the cigarettes are a shilling a packet and wine is sixpence a 
>> bottle, and I've got enough in the kitty to live for a year like that, 
>> by the end of which I shall have written a book that will really 
>> sell....I'm going to write high-brow pornography and they'll swallow it."
>> here we see the writer serving his loves or addictions and writing 
>> what he thinks sells. Enter /Justine /and the quartet. Of course there 
>> is more to LD than that - the soul behind the story, the craftsman at 
>> work and all that, but it is refreshing to see the practical behind 
>> the art.
>I agree, David.  What you say about /Justine /recalls what I have come 
>to understand about how Durrell uses Darley, Pursewarden, and Arnauti to 
>articulate different aspects of how he understands his writing vocation//. 
>With Pursewarden Durrell speaks in the clear-eyed, skeptical and ironic 
>voice of the seasoned writer.  Pursewarden is also retrospective, 
>posthumous.  He is the "practical" side of Durrell.
>With Darley, Durrell can still dream about "the soul behind the story," 
>as you call it.  Darley--despite his pretensions to world-weary 
>experience and "bankruptcy"--is fledgling and prospective.
>Pursewarden and Darley check each other in a sort of way that makes me 
>wonder if Durrell wasn't speaking to his own hopes and ambivalence about 
>what sort to writer he would turn out to be. 
>And Arnauti is a fine, belated acknowledgment of the frustrated initial 
>attempts and dead ends that Durrell experienced over all of the previous 
>years as he attempted to start the work that he would later call 
>I will also offer an observation.  It seems to me that Durrell's most 
>vocal readers tend to latch on either to the Darley side or to the 
>Pursewarden side of "Lawrence Durrell."   That is, I find that there is 
>a certain sort of reader who thinks of Durrell primarily as the 
>Darley-like author of books suffused with exoticism and eroticism, with 
>theories about the "Spirit of Place," "Modern Love," gnosticism, &c.  I 
>also find that there is another type of reader who imagines a Durrell 
>who is much more like Pursewarden--ironically inflecting all of his 
>writing to such a degree that nothing can be taken or trusted at face value.
>After many years of my own moving back and forth between 'Durrell as 
>Darley' and 'Durrell as Pursewarden,' I am trying instead to think more 
>and more about Durrell as the old man who withdrew into the late 
>afternoon shade of his garden, leaving behind once and for all these 
>puppets he created and their noisy, fussy debates.  I just want to wish 
>him rest.  He was so very tired.
>Charles L. Sligh
>Department of English
>Wake Forest University
>slighcl at wfu.edu

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