[ilds] Bitter Lemons and the darkness on the edge of town

csligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Wed Sep 10 07:30:59 PDT 2008


Denise Tart & David Green wrote:
> So why are the lemons "dark?"  Darkness is a key to understanding 
> Lawrence Durrell.  
>  
A very interesting question, given that in popular reviews Durrell still 
maintains an identity as the writer of brightly-lit Mediterranean 
spaces.  I have always preferred "Durrell after Dark"--or "Durrell in 
whose works the Darkness offsets the Light"--the candles set out above 
the water in /Prospero's Cell/ and the dimly-lit Sitna Mariam incidents 
of the /Quartet/ are some of my favorites. 

I suspect that the answer to David's question would change in relation 
to the specific kind of work and the specific time of composition and 
publication.  For example, some of you have been spending time with the 
new editions of Durrell's early works of prose fiction.  Where do you 
find the darkness in those books from the mid-to-late 1930s?  How is 
darkness different in works from the late 1950s or the early 1980s?

My own hunch:  I think that the darkness changes its location and 
significance as Durrell ages.  Could the Darley / Pursewarden pairing 
stand mipoint in the shift?  The younger writer still perceives darkness 
as external; the older writer recognizes his own darkness.   A very 
Janus-faced pairing, indeed.  And to offer a guess about the later 
works, I think there could be little disagreement that the weave of the 
/Quintet/ is suffused with darkness of different kinds.  Who escapes 
Darkness in late Durrell?  A halo-bright Clea is no longer a tenable 
resource. . . .

Charles
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