[ilds] Durrell on the French

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Fri Oct 9 09:34:56 PDT 2009

-----Original Message-----
From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>

Maybe someone who's  
studied Durrell's stylistics should comment on his penchant for  
aphorisms and "gnomic" remarks, as he calls them somewhere.  What do  
they say about the man?  And what about this one?  Should we simply  
attribute the comment to Darley's naïveté?  Or is this actually  
Durrell the narrator speaking?  


Thanks for the question.  These exercises are interesting, but I can only try in a very quick sort of way.  Again, I am on borrowed computer time until my new MacBook arrives.

Please pitch in from FRANCE, Marc &c.

See my bracketed remarks below--I am using David's text, which I am sure Bill Godshalk will collate for variants--Charles

> "Nevertheless [here is a clue--"Nevertheless"--that sets the essayist's and aphorist's tone--also the tone of the Silver Age travel writers--Darley is signaling his fitness to make universal maxims--notice how he starts general then gets increasingly more detailed in his terms] there is no woman [again, very like an 18th century essayist--someone to declare essentials and universals] too humble, too battered, too old,  
> to receive those outward attentions - those little gallantries and  
> sorties of wit which I have come to associate with the Gallic  
> temperament [I find this part charming, really; Darley is giving us a kind of imagined stage-play, with stock Frenchman and Spinster--he makes her feel young and appreciated once again, and, true or not, where is the harm in that?]; the heady meretricious French charm [now the incisive terms begin] which evaporates so  
> easily into pride and mental indolence - like French thought [all of French thought???] which  
> flows so quickly into sand moulds [the figure drawn from sculpting is curious--perhaps he means that, as in the work of lesser sculptors, the molten "ideal" is more noble than the solidified actual?--cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_casting], the original espirit hardening  
> immediately into deadening concepts. " (Justine page 33)

Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Charles-Sligh at utc.edu

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