[ilds] complexities

Marc Piel marcpiel at interdesign.fr
Fri Aug 14 10:24:20 PDT 2009

My Egyptian friend finally sent more than images; 
he sent a line of text:

"interesting, sad, but not all is true, at least 
at Montaza !!"


Charles Sligh a écrit :
> Sumantra Nag wrote:
>> I see a conflict between the disappearance of an European Alexandria 
>> and the increasing presence of an Egyptian Alexandria, based on 
>> a modern Arabic ethos, where an ultra-conservative and restrictive 
>> force - now recognised the world over -making its heavy presence felt. 
>> I have always been a great admirer of Lawrence Durrell's prose as it 
>> expands in its sounds, colours and its complexities in The Alexandria 
>> Quartet. It resounds with an inner poetry - never forget Lawrence 
>> Durrell as a poet. 
>> Over the years, however, I have come to see the point of Edward Said 
>> when he referred to *the triviality of subject matter in Durrell's 
>> Alexandria Quartet *[at his lecture in Beirut (?) - I forget the 
>> context but remember the assessment]. I have often felt that *Lawrence 
>> Durrell's heightened prose - at its peak in the Alexandria Quartet in 
>> my opinion - was wasted on a kind of glorification of habitual and 
>> often seedy sexual activity* which was difficult to extricate from the 
>> forceful romanticism of his work. This seediness associated with the 
>> writer has been expressed in the last poem on Lawrence Durrell 
>> displayed in a recent post and written by an ILDS Discussion Forum member.
> Thanks for writing, Sumantra.  Does this old debate come down to a 
> question of the "uses of literature"?
> One view will hold Durrell's writing as "incorrect" or "imperfect" for 
> omitting or making grotesque the people, places, and history of 
> Alexandria. 
> That sort of objection springs from the sense that literature must 
> accurately reflect some locatable, fixed reality--or that literature 
> must "reform" and "correct" misguided views of a stable reality. 
> Another view will observe that Durrell's writing in the /Quartet/ 
> springs from Durrell's interest in uncertain, subjective viewpoints and 
> his increasing skepticism about what gets called "Reality Prime."
> That is, if Durrell has predicated his work upon the notion that no one 
> sees the real Alexandria "as it is," then how could anyone criticize the 
> writer for having missed something or for having made his characters 
> more grotesque than "real Alexandrians." 
> "But of course," might come the answer from someone who identifies with 
> Durrell's aesthetic and philosophies in the /Quartet/. "How could it 
> ever be otherwise, when all experience, all notions of reality and 
> history are ultimately subjective?"
> "Then let the Englishman play his games with subjectivity and 
> impressionism in his own lands," the other side might answer.  "Our sons 
> and daughters require books that give them strong, approved examples."
> I doubt the extremes of these sides will ever find common ground. 
> Those readers who hold the corrective view will accuse Durrell and the 
> aesthetes of "re-colonization."
> Those readers who take the aesthetic approach will call those who would 
> chastise or correct Durrell "fundamentalists," "zealots."
> But I imagine that a fair number of readers will fall somewhere into the 
> middle, as you seem to do.
> Charles

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