[ilds] Rivals

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Fri May 9 10:38:48 PDT 2008


Let's just say we read "Loeb's Horace" differently, apparently line by line, agree on very little, and will not budge in our respective views.  I'll not rehash what I said before.  There's enough variety and complexity in Durrell for everyone to enjoy and see what they want to see.  And that's probably the way he wanted things to be.


-----Original Message-----
>From: James Gifford <odos.fanourios at gmail.com>
>Sent: May 9, 2008 9:45 AM
>To: ILDS Listserv <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
>Subject: Re: [ilds] Rivals
>Though we must disagree quite strongly, I do want to hear more about 
>this piece next month -- I must say I think you're utterly wrong, but I 
>hope it's persuasive and am glad to see something on this coming out.
>> Why Keats? 
>That's the easy part -- Durrell had what seems to have been a mild 
>obsession with Keats' works since the outset.  Note that he writes to 
>Miller, "it’s all dove-tailing into my heraldry," and the presence of 
>allusions to Keats as early as /Panic Spring/.
>As for Horace/Keats, I still can't bring myself to read this as a poetic 
>attack, not because I think Durrell incapable of such a thing, but 
>because it seems to run contrary to the self-doubts, the plague of 
>needing art, and the tributes to great voices from the past that run 
>rampant through is works in general.  This decision, whether to read the 
>poem's transcribed marginalia as Durrell ventriloquising Eve (/Cities, 
>Plains and People/ is dedicated to her, after all) or voicing his own 
>critique is surely something a 'reader' must decide, because the author 
>has expressly not told us.  Or, perhaps he did -- it's the woman.  But, 
>you as a reader prefer to ignore this instruction from the author and 
>read it as something else...
>A strong reader indeed; are you becoming chummy with Bill, the man who 
>leaps through poems like over hurdles at the track?
>> maybe Durrell wanted to cross swords with 
>> him and prove his meddle.
>I certainly don't see it as crossing swords, especially since Keats is 
>revered in so many other works.  I can understand how one might choose 
>to read "slave to quietness" as a jab, though *I* certainly do not see 
>it in that manner at all; yet, does "crossing swords," with all its 
>phallic insinuations, really account for Durrell's use of Keats 
>elsewhere?  Think to the opening of /Nunquam/ or "Cities, Plains and 
>People" (section II, penultimate stanza), the whole section of which is 
>a tribute to poetic influences.  Keats is aligned with "campion," making 
>him both a lovely flower and a garland for the victorious.  Notably, 
>both poems are in /Cities, Plains and People/.
>Moreover, the forefather in "Cities, Plains and People" is the father 
>himself, and the poets are the escape route that creates fecundity, even 
>though the poetic path seems to lead only to pruning and eventually 
>being plucked out by the roots.  If there's resentment to Keats, I'd 
>think it's for a great poet who inducted Old D into the long sickness of 
>practicing art.
>I might, for that matter, ask after how you see Durrell relating himself 
>to the GREAT poet (I think caps...) in "Blind Homer," a poem of the same 
>period?  Who, then, sits at the end of the poem,
>   Much more uncertain of his gift with words,
>   By this plate of olives, this dry inkwell.
>I read Durrell as putting himself in his place, because Blind Homer 
>certainly had no inkwell.  I rarely see the disparagement of another 
>poet, often the envy, and almost certainly a sense of being a fellow 
>practitioner of loneliness, all sharing a common sickness.
>But, to go with Bruce's subject line, perhaps Old D can speak for 
>himself about jealousies vs. standing on the shoulders of giants...
>"The Rival Poet." /The Times Literary Supplement/ 5 Jan 1951: 7.
>"Your interesting correspondence concerning the Rival Poet of the 
>Sonnets prompts at least one reader to suggest a reconsideration of 
>Marlowe's claims, and one cannot help feeling that his claims are at 
>least as weighty as those of Chapman.  The tongue that made "lascivious 
>comments on thy sport" does not sound like Chapman: while the "strained 
>touches" lent by rhetoric could as easily suggest the author of 
>/Tamberlane/ as anyone else.  ....  It seems likely, too, that Marlowe's 
>influence over Shakespeare was greater thantaht of Chapman in the one 
>field which concerned him most, the theatre. .... [O]ne is driven to 
>wonder whether the author himself was not at pains to conceal the 
>identity of his subjects.  It is even possible that Shakespeare provided 
>false clues.  "How many lambs might the stern wolf betray, if like a 
>lamb he could his looks translate?" might provide a peg on which to hand 
>a theory about Thomas Kyd, the scrivener-translator; while the quotation 
>"what care I who calls me well or ill, so you O'er green my bad, my good 
>allow" might on its merits suggest the playwright Robert Greene. ...."

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