[ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 26, Issue 11

Sumantra Nag sumantranag at gmail.com
Wed May 13 01:01:15 PDT 2009


Reading Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited" properly a few years ago - after watching the film on CD - I realized that in my first reading, as a college student in Delhi (1960s), I had missed the rich evocation, nostalgia and the often unchronological movement, back and forth  through memory and recollected episodes. (A review had described the writing in "Brideshead Revisited" as "lush".) 

But it was at about the same time that I was gripped by the prose of The Alexandria Quartet.  

Here is George Steiner writing about Lawrence Durrell:

Web link: http://theteemingbrain.wordpress.com/2008/08/16/hemingway-media-culture-and-the-impoverishment-of-modern-english/
  "But this does not mean that this jeweled and coruscated style springs full-armed from Durrell's personal gift. He stands in a great tradition of baroque prose. In the seventeenth century, Sir Thomas Browne built sentences into lofty arches and made words ring like sonorous bells. Robert Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, used the same principal device as Durrell: richness through accumulation, the marshaling of nouns and epithets into great catalogues among which the eye roves in antiquarian delight. The feverish, clarion-sounding prose of De Quincey is a direct ancestor to that of Justine. And more recently, there is the example of Conrad. In the later parts of Lord Jim and throughout The Rescue, Conrad uses words with the sumptuous exuberance of a jeweler showing off his rarest stones. Here also, language falls upon the reader's senses like brocade.
  This baroque ideal of narrative style is, at present, in disfavor. The modern ear has been trained to the harsh, impoverished cadence and vocabulary of Hemingway. Reacting against the excesses of Victorian manner, the modern writer has made a cult of simplicity. He refines common speech but preserves its essential drabness. When comparing a page from the Alexandria novels to the practice of Hemingway or C. P. Snow or Graham Greene, one is setting a gold-spun and jeweled Byzantine mosaic next to a black-and-white photograph. One cannot judge the one by the other...."

  - George Steiner, "Lawrence Durrell I: The Baroque Novel" (from Critical Essays on Lawrence Durrell) 

  Critical essays on Lawrence Durrell
  by Alan Warren Friedman;
  Publisher: Boston, Mass. : G.K. Hall, ©1987.
Cyrill Connolly makes a comparison between the prose of the "mandarins" (in 1938 Durrell had not appeared) and the prose of Hemingway, Orwell (?) representing simplicity and journalistic directness...



> Message: 3
> Date: Tue, 12 May 2009 22:19:42 +1000
> From: "Denise Tart & David Green" <dtart at bigpond.net.au>
> Subject: Re: [ilds] Fw: ILDS Digest, Vol 26, Issue 8_The Enigma of
> Arriving
> To: <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
> Message-ID: <BD089E393DA74342B25097949E435640 at MumandDad>
> Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed; charset="iso-8859-1";
> reply-type=original
> Sumantra,
> perhaps, like Evelyn Waugh, LD was reacting to the 'proletarian scholars'.
> I often think of his work as a reaction to modernity, the rise of American 
> style business mantras.
> Clito's wine bar was a better place for LD than Cloisters of Oxford, the 
> corporate towers of New York. even if the colonial arm-chair piss-up scene 
> apealed enormously, LD embraced a european mode after Norman Douglas even 
> if, in truth, it was not really him - he embraced that style of life as a 
> concept, as a second reality to his own existence.
> Pass the retsina.
> DG
> Denise Tart
> Civil Celebrant - A8807
> 16 William Street
> Marrickville NSW  2204
> +61 2 9564 6165
> 0412 707 625
> dtart at bigpond.net.au
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