[ilds] the lack of tenderness in the world

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Fri Aug 21 11:04:11 PDT 2009

Camus opens his essay "The Myth of Sysphus" with the statement, "There  
is but one truly philosophical problem, and that is suicide."  I think  
Durrell was dealing with that problem from an early age, and evidence  
for that is embedded in his writings from the beginning of his  
career.  Charles provides a good reminder from Clea's letter.  But as  
beautiful as is the line, "a man tortured beyond endurance by the lack  
of tenderness in the world," I don't think the sentiment touches the  
core of the problem.  It's too beautiful and precious, similar to the  
language of Lolita, which Grove Koger finds artificial.  Durrell has a  
way of embellishing death, as Poe does.  Similar ways to hide  
something.  Take the scene of Martine's corpse in Sicilian Carousel.   
Her body is laid out on a beach to absorb the sea, like a seashell.   
That's Annabel Lee in her kingdom by the sea.


On Aug 20, 2009, at 2:51 PM, Charles Sligh wrote:

> 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

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