[ilds] Takes on Takes

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sun Aug 16 13:07:11 PDT 2009


Re two of Charles's points:

1.  "I am open to the possibility of being pleasurably surprised  
despite politics or lack of politics. I do not begin by caring about  
those motivations, but rather with how surprising or successful a work  
seems within its own limits of form and within the course of reading  
that I have conducted up to that point."

Hear, hear!  Yes, absolutely.  In graduate school in the seventies, I  
was initially taught to appreciate a work of literature on its own  
terms.  Then along came Paul de Man and "theory" took over.  I guess  
the current emphasis on critical "theory" has displaced the old  
approach.  I once had an essay rejected by a journal because it was  
"untheoretical," a word I didn't know existed.


2.  "I wonder what you mean when you say that Durrell's prose partakes  
of 'natural richness of the English language as it has developed over  
the centuries'"?

James Clawson on 10 July 2009 has already given an excellent analysis  
of that process in his discussion of Durrell's use of "porpentines" in  
Justine.


BR


On Aug 16, 2009, at 8:57 AM, Charles Sligh wrote:

> Good to see your note, Grove.
>
>>        /Lolita/ is certainly Nabokov's masterpiece, but despite its
>>        myriad allusions I find it small and self-contained. Its cast
>>        of characters is limited, and its language shows signs of the
>>        artificiality that in my opinion would vitiate Nabokov's
>>        subsequent works.
>
> I have several thoughts here.
>
> Why should we allow Eagleton or any other critic set the terms as
> oppositional, "either . . . or"?
>
> Why must it be the question of "Nabokov or Durrell"? or "Hemingway or
> Durrell"?  or "Al-Kharrat or Durrell"?  &c.
>
> Call me Epicurean, but I balk at that tether.  I can enjoy Scott and
> Austen, George Eliot and Lewis Carroll, Robert Browning and Swinburne.
>
> In fact, I often enjoy these "oppositionals" all the more because I  
> feel
> that I am crossing borders and braking bounds.
>
> I mark out works of literature as distinctive and memorable based upon
> how they surprise me into new experience.   The authors may have  
> written
> from any variety of motivations--high aesthetic, Anarchy, Marxist
> revolutionary, or pornography.
>
> And that would be my point of difference from Eagleton.  I am open to
> the possibility of being pleasurably surprised despite politics or  
> lack
> of politics.
>
> I do not begin by caring about those motivations, but rather with how
> surprising or successful a work seems within its own limits of form  
> and
> within the course of reading that I have conducted up to that point.
>
> I wonder what you mean when you say that Durrell's prose partakes of  
> the
> "natural richness of the English language as it has developed over the
> centuries"?
>
> For my own part, I would find that true in thinking about, say,
> /Justine/.  There, in certain sentences and paragraphs, Durrell  
> restores
> to currency an obsolete term; in others, he commits jarring  
> redundancies
> of word or phrase.  I have grown quite fond of those quaint little
> birthmarks and cicatrices running up and down the text.  All of that  
> is
> /Justine/--I would not ask otherwise.  I enjoy the notion that the  
> book
> was developing in real time, that it is still developing. . . .
>

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