[ilds] Suicide

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Thu Aug 20 07:25:23 PDT 2009

Thanks, Peter.  Solicitors are no euphemism, indeed.  Re your previous  
comment about Durrell's denial of any suicidal impulses, I don't think  
Durrell was always truthful about himself.  One of Haag's points is  
that Durrell continually misrepresented himself.  In Haag's City of  
Memory, I believe there's a passage where Eve says as much about her  
husband, his propensity to distort.  In fact, I would go a step  
further and say that his denial is good evidence for the opposite.   
Here, I undoubtedly stand alone.


On Aug 20, 2009, at 12:02 AM, PETER BALDWIN wrote:

> Dear Bruce
> Thanks for the comment
> The point I make about child rearing I have come across in the child  
> psychiatry reports for children of mentally ill parents [ for many  
> years I have represented children and families in  social services  
> cases before the English courts - I am what is not euphemistically  
> known in England as a solicitor ]
> As much as your other points are speculative, I would agree - not  
> that I want to go back to her Journals yet awhile to review them
> Regards
> peter baldwin
> From: bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Date: Wed, 19 Aug 2009 19:26:01 -0700
> CC: bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
> Subject: Re: [ilds] Suicide
> Schizophrenia is a mysterious disease, but I don't think it has its  
> origins in child rearing.  I haven't come across that explanation.   
> Sappho-Jane was severely disturbed — read her journal and that is  
> obvious.  Equally obvious are her fantasies about her father, as she  
> writes about them.  I'm suggesting she identified too closely with  
> him and his persistent themes.  I also think suicide and fantasies  
> about self-extinction are far too prevalent in Durrell's work to  
> attribute them simply to the "imaginative process."  I would call  
> them an obsession.
> Bruce
> On Aug 19, 2009, at 6:16 PM, PETER BALDWIN wrote:
> I understand that the view held by psychiatrists is that a child  
> reared by a parent with psychiatric difficulties is more prone to  
> suffer from the same presenting problems not for any specifically  
> genetic reason, although that can be one reason, but because the  
> same presenting problems will be taken up by the child.
> Given that Larry did not rear Sappho, I think it dangerous to  
> speculate as to the aetiology of her illness. I suspect some  
> researcher somewhere has inspected the transcript of the coroners  
> verdict. This would, I think, be a document of public record and  
> would set out the coroner's conclusions, inter alia, of Sappho's  
> emotional state
> I once asked Durrell if he ever considered suicide and he quickly  
> denied it - as part of the imaginative process, an artist might  
> speculate through his characters about such things without ever  
> having the desire to take his own life.
> I think also that Durrell's saviour when he was at his most creative  
> was the emotional positivism he created through his books.
> peter baldwin
> From: bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Date: Wed, 19 Aug 2009 13:11:06 -0700
> CC: bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
> Subject: [ilds] Suicide
> 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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