[ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 31, Issue 7_Message: 2_University

gkoger at mindspring.com gkoger at mindspring.com
Sun Oct 11 10:28:33 PDT 2009

Re Durrell's lack of formal education, it might be useful to remember the law of unintended consequences. Durrell would have been a different person had he attended university, but who knows whether his literary career would have thrived or wilted. It almost certainly would have been different. The fact that he went on to produce world-class fiction and travel literature suggests to me that his instincts were valid.

I find the comments re Nabokov suggestive, but perhaps not in the way intended. Surely many of Nabokov's remarks on literature (including his wholesale dismissal of numerous highly regarded writers) are more "questionable" than Durrell's. (Whether we might regard them as "right" or "wrong" is a different matter.) Nabokov's views on some aspects of science might have been sounder, but as he also seems to have believed in the supernatural, perhaps not. And if we consider psychology as a science, the picture is fuzzier still. Nabokov's frequent (and ultimately tiresome) remarks on Freud sound as if they were based on the most superficial popular magazine versions of Freud's theories, and to my way of thinking detract from his achievement.


>Bruce: "What he missed and could have profited from, I think, was the critical exercise of going one on one  with a tutor.A situation where one writes a weekly essay and then has to defend it word for word, assuming that was and is the process at one of the Oxbridge colleges.  If he had done that, he might have avoided some of his questionable remarks on literature and the sciences."

>Sumantra: "I found it interesting to take the case of Vladimir Nabokov who was at 
>Cambridge University between 1919 and 1923, getting a good honours degree 
>and even sometimes excelling in Russian and French, subjects to which he 
>changed after having initially started with zoology."

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