[ilds] durrell and the duck shoot

csligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Mon Sep 22 11:46:25 PDT 2008

But here is /this/ reader's problem. 

My enjoyment in the duck shoot is without heightened by the sense of 
things between Darley/Justine/Nessim coming to crisis.  That invitation 
card up on the mantle--what is Nessim doing for the reader's sense of 
the plot if not handing Darley a loaded weapon and asking Darley, one 
gentleman to the next, if he would not like to help pass the time that 
they have left between them and play a little Russian Roulette?  

Too much tension.  Apparent nymphomania.  Broken faith.  Jealousy.  
Madness.  Boatloads of firearms.   No, this is not a murder-ballad, but 
it is that curious ending-before-the ending of /Justine/.

But really, after all of these years, I do not think my continued 
delight springs from reading for the plot.  Rather, I think that whole 
incident on the lake holds up every reading because of Durrell's 
sure-handling of the natural description and the ritualized mood of the 
hunt.  What we wouldn't give to see those fabled earlier drafts of this 
scene!  How marvelous to have this one hunting scene arriving at such 
high-polish and caliber. 

Are you suggesting that Durrell is sending up or parodying other hunting 
scenes in fiction, Jamie?  I have always been impressed by the way that 
Durrell used the American Miller as a blocking or swerving figure, 
bypassing Hemingway and Faulkner and what once upon a time would have 
been called the mainline of American letters. 

Guns. . . .  Leslie Durrell is perhaps the darkling or dark-winged 
influence here.


> You're right that "the duck shoot is more illusion than reality. It's a 
> set up," and I think the reader is the one being set up.

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