[ilds] Fw: ILDS Digest, Vol 26, Issue 8_The Enigma of Arriving

Sumantra Nag sumantranag at gmail.com
Mon May 11 07:31:49 PDT 2009

Sorry, my response to David Green preceded his text instead of succeeding 
it. I am therefore sending this post again.

 Message: 2
Date: Sat, 9 May 2009 07:58:29 +1000

David Green wrote:

"With Durrell you get personal experience transformed or indeed refracted
into a recreated parallel world; myth, magic, ficton and reality all rolled 
into one and  when larry writes -

    The city wobbles cool as a jelly, with colours of wine, tar, blood and
    ripening grain, floating like fragments of a stained-glass window

I am there, it is real for me. It matters not whether Durrell's Corfu,
Rhodes, Cyprus or Alexandria are largley fictions. Durrell was a poet and
novelist and the term travel writer is a misnomer in his case and I have
always thought so. Larry was always much more into spirit of place - oh and
 colonial drawing rooms and wine bars and why not. I traveled a lot and, in
 the folly of youth stayed in near flea ridden hovels with drunken pack
 packers and I've stayed in 4 and 5 star hotels. the later are much better
 and you can write about them too with equal validity..."
This deals with the question of prose style and visually evocative images.
In his book "Enemies of Promise" (published in 1938 and later reprinted) the
 writer Cyril Connolly wrote extensively about the "mandarin" style of
 writing which he associated with Walter Pater, Henry James, Ruskin, Proust
 and other writers associated with a  certain quality of intensity and
 ornateness of language and description. (This is a very compressed, but I
 hope, moderately accurate description of what Connolly meant by the
 "mandarin" style!) Aestheticism is I suppose implicit in the mandarin 

 Cyril Connolly was among the first reviewers of "Justine. It has often
 occurred to me that Lawrence Durrell would have been regarded by Connolly 
 a writer who has revived the mandarin style. But I can't recall having ever
 read the full review of "Justine" by Connolly, in the 'Sunday Times'. Here
 is an extract taken from the cover page (Faber Paperback):

    "Mr Durrell is more than a novelist, he is a writer; I think that in
     "Justine" ... he has found a form, a blend of imagination and 
    of analysis and dream, poetry and prose, which enables him, in the sun 
    Alexandria and the shade of Kavafy,         to come into his own..."

 Interesting - the distinction Connolly makes between 'novelist' and


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