[ilds] Rivals

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


James,

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.


Bruce


-----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
>
>Bruce,
>
>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. ...."
>
>Best,
>James





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