[ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 26, Issue 5

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Thu May 7 05:12:36 PDT 2009

Sumantra Nag wrote:
> Charles,
> An interesting collection.
> Except that Lawrence Durrell seems to have made the Alexandria where 
> he lived into so mythical a place, that the Alexandria Quartet 
> acquires a complexity and size quite different from the "expatriate" 
> themes of Greene and Maugham in the Far East, whose creations seem 
> sparse in comparison. The characters of the Quartet are also of 
> mythical proportions when compared to those of Greene whose writing is 
> almost austere even while dealing with the bleakness of a person's 
> condition. I read The Quiet American many years ago.  

Thanks for this response, Sumantra.  I appreciate the thoughtfulness of 
your remarks.

Yes, I think Durrell's prose style reflects something of his world-view. 

We have had some remarks here of later regarding Gerald Durrell's prose 
style contrasted with Lawrence Durrell's prose style.   I think back to 
the things in which the brother-writers grounded their thinking and 
their writing.  I also think about the different ways in which the two 
brothers imagined their different audiences.

I would venture that Gerald Durrell felt some pressing urgency in the 
plight of an ecological system and species that he considered quite 
real.   The need to communicate and to entertain and to convict, to 
instruct and delight his audience about a perishable ecosystem in the 
clearest manner guided Gerald Durrell's pen.  His works present a voice 
and style that assume that their audience will be able to understand and 
to act in response.

I would venture that Lawrence Durrell's works present a voice and a 
style that are far more dubious about the nature of "reality," or the 
successful perception and communication of that reality.  I also often 
wonder about how Durrell's skepticism led him to imagine the readers in 
his audience. 

The term "Epicurean" was mentioned in regard to the brothers Durrell and 
their indulgences.  Really, Lawrence Durrell's epicureanism is a 
/philosophic/ epicureanism, something like that "conviction" which John 
Crowley ascribes to his novelist in the /AEgypt/ novels, Fellowes Kraft .
> "the conviction [. . .] that it is not unreasonable after all to 
> believe that one's own subjectivity is bound up in the nature of 
> things; that really we have no independent evidence of how the world 
> is; that if our consciousness contributes to the making of the world, 
> then our consciousness can alter it."
That world-view--whether in Walter Pater or John Crowley or Lawrence 
Durrell--creates certain essential difficulties in communicating and 

/Endless things: a part of Ægypt/


Charles L. Sligh
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
charles-sligh at utc.edu

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