[ilds] the lack of tenderness in the world

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Thu Aug 20 14:51:07 PDT 2009

sharbani banerjee wrote:

>         The question that logically arises out of this is that  "Why
>         was Sappho-Jane schizophrenic?" . To my mind the answer may
>         lie hidden in the answer to another question "Why did
>         Pursewarden commit suicide?"
>         The Quartet like its four novels, provides four answers.
>         Saphho's suicide is still shrouded in the shadow of mystery.

I am really curious about this recent turn to posting about suicide. 

What different things does suicide mean to all of us?  More important, 
what does it mean in connection with the life and writings of Lawrence 
Durrell?  What does it mean in the context of different moments in 
Durrell's life?  In the context of the lives of his loved ones?  In the 
context of his writings?

I do recall Durrell's statements regarding suicide in the interviews.  
By the early seventies he was saying things like, "Suicide seems to me 
to be the only solution" (/Conversations/ 143).  Given his life events 
and losses at the time, these statements make sense to me, and I can 
understand his reasoning and respect the position, even while he laughs, 
because there are not too many steps from an Epicurean position to an 
antique Roman or Stoic position. . . .

But the later talk of "sacrificial suicides" in the /Quintet/ &c.?

In /Justine/, Clea writes in a letter about how

>         An artist does not live a personal life as we do, he hides it,
>         forcing us to go to his books if we wish to touch the true
>         source of his feelings.  Underneath all his preoccupations
>         with sex, society, religion, etc. (all the staple abstractions
>         which allow the forebrain to chatter) there is, quite simply,
>         a man /tortured beyond endurance by the lack of tenderness in
>         the world/. 

Many times I have recalled and wondered about the italicized line 
terminating that paragraph. . . .


Charles L. Sligh
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
charles-sligh at utc.edu

More information about the ILDS mailing list