[ilds] Suicide

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 19 13:11:06 PDT 2009


James,

We're all just guessing.  Sappho-Jane was schizophrenic, I believe  
that was the diagnosis, and I know very, very little about the  
etiology, symptoms, and prognosis of that disease.  It may be,  
however, that she was in tune or sensitive, in a warped sense, to her  
father's psychology.  That's the link I'm proposing, although  
obviously just a wild guess.  She took her father's imaginative  
explorations too seriously or was influenced by them, to disastrous  
effects.  I'd like to see more done on "what Durrell was hiding."

Bruce


On Aug 19, 2009, at 12:51 PM, James Gifford wrote:

> I've tried to read the epigrams differently, but I agree that Durrell
> had more than fleeting flirtations with the idea of suicide -- at  
> least,
> his notebooks suggest more than fleeting thoughts.  I'd classify that
> distinctly from Sappho's suicide, but that's another complicated  
> topic.
>
> Still, Durrell was clearly interested in Byron, and I'd certainly read
> the burning of the letters as an allusion (along with the sibling
> incest...), but let's not forget that Durrell really didn't live up to
> Byron's reputation.  Pursewarden is associated with the author of the
> Quartet, but so is Darley, and Darley's prudish and throwing in sex to
> show he's not a prude (perhaps the best indication that he is).  I'm
> personally very hesitant about associating Durrell with any  
> character in
> a reasonably clear way after /Pied Piper of Lovers/.
>
> As for what Durrell was hiding, I think he hid it well, and it  
> probably
> has a great deal more to do with his childhood and self-doubts than it
> does his sex life, but that's just a personal guess.
>
> Best,
> James
>
> Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> Provocative as ever, Charles.  Thanks for recalling the De Sade
>> epigraph.  Very relevant.  I suspect Durrell had strong suicidal
>> tendencies, and the reference to De Sade's "noose" is much more  
>> than a
>> bit of cleverness.  It's an obsession — perhaps finally fulfilled in
>> Sappho Jane's suicide.  Re Keat's "negative capability," I don't  
>> think
>> even he would want to go into some territories of depravity.  Hard to
>> imagine any nightingales in Dracula's castle, although I'm sure LD
>> could.  But why some areas are off-limits and others not is a real  
>> big
>> question.  I'm not upset by Cormac McCarthy's novels, /Blood
>> Meridian,/ in particular.  In fact, I'm strongly attracted to  
>> Cormac's
>> depictions of violence.  Sexual depravity, however, touches another
>> cord, a prudish one.  When writing about sex, Durrell would go only  
>> so
>> far and got into a big argument with Miller over the latter's
>> explicitness.  Too bad we don't have Byron's /Memoirs,/ then we'd see
>> how far things could go.  "Only fit for a brothel," they were called.
>> Hobhouse burned them, and Durrell has Pursewarden's letters burned,
>> which may be a good deal more than a touch of authorial indebtedness
>> to an honored predecessor.  Maybe Durrell was also hiding something.
>>
>>
>> Bruce
>>
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