[ilds] On First Discovering Lawrence Durrell

Jacob Riley jtriley at unca.edu
Tue Oct 13 12:36:20 PDT 2009


I first discovered Lawrence Durrell by picking up Justine in the
library when I was in high school. I can't remember why I picked it
up, I may have read somewhere that Durrell was influenced by D.H.
Lawrence. I remember enjoying Justine at that point, but not really
understanding it. It was confusing and disorienting. In college, my
professor once mentioned that he really liked Justine by Lawrence
Durrell and I told him I had read it. This was enough for me to go
back, re-read Justine and get through the entire Quartet. I loved the
quartet dearly. As a reader of philosophy, its philosophical aspects
combined with with and bathroom humor was just the kind of writing I
am into. It was about this time that i learned that Durrell had a long
friendship with Miller, another author I had been reading since high
school. This increased my fascination with Durrell and I read the
Avignon Quintet this last summer.

After reading much criticism on Durrell and looking at things he says
within those articles, I have become a bit disillusioned by Durrell.
His enthusiasm for eastern mysticism to be a sort of cure for our dead
western civilization hurts my incredibly Western mind.

All this to say that, yes, I first read Durrell as an adolescent.

On Tue, Oct 13, 2009 at 3:00 PM,  <ilds-request at lists.uvic.ca> wrote:
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> Today's Topics:
>
>   1. Re: Proust and Durrell (Marc Piel)
>   2. Re: Proust and Durrell (Marc Piel)
>   3. Re: tout comme les pens ?es fran?ais (Marc Piel)
>   4. On First Discovering Lawrence Durrell (Denise Tart & David Green)
>   5. the quartet & debate (Charles Sligh)
>   6. MOOMINS (RW HEDGES)
>   7. Re: On First Discovering Lawrence Durrell (Bruce Redwine)
>
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Message: 1
> Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 01:11:58 +0200
> From: Marc Piel <marcpiel at interdesign.fr>
> Subject: Re: [ilds] Proust and Durrell
> To: Charles-Sligh at utc.edu, ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Message-ID: <4AD3B7BE.2090001 at interdesign.fr>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
>
> Curiously, I tried to read Proust in english, and
> found it incomprhensible.....
>
> Charles Sligh a ?crit :
>> I enjoy the notion that Marc is somewhere reading Durrell in French and that Sumantra is somewhere reading Proust in English.
>>
>> Translation is an art.
>>
>> Charles
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>>
>>
>> On Oct 12, 2009, at 12:34 AM, Sumantra Nag wrote:
>> The writer whom I began reading seriously in later years and whom
>>> I still
>>> find instantly absorbing is Proust in English (In Search of Lost
>>> Time), in
>>> the original translation by Scott Moncrieff and also the later Penguin
>>> version of 1981 based on translations by Scott Moncrieff and Terence
>>> Kilmartin.
>>>
>>
>> ***************************************
>> Charles L. Sligh
>> Department of English
>> University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
>> Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
>> ***************************************
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> ILDS mailing list
>> ILDS at lists.uvic.ca
>> https://lists.uvic.ca/mailman/listinfo/ilds
>>
>>
>>
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 2
> Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 01:13:33 +0200
> From: Marc Piel <marcpiel at interdesign.fr>
> Subject: Re: [ilds] Proust and Durrell
> To: Charles-Sligh at utc.edu, ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Message-ID: <4AD3B81D.9050305 at interdesign.fr>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
>
> Also, I always read Durrell in English except,
> since I have joined this list, to check
> understanding..... of posts.
>
> Charles Sligh a ?crit :
>> I enjoy the notion that Marc is somewhere reading Durrell in French and that Sumantra is somewhere reading Proust in English.
>>
>> Translation is an art.
>>
>> Charles
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>>
>>
>> On Oct 12, 2009, at 12:34 AM, Sumantra Nag wrote:
>> The writer whom I began reading seriously in later years and whom
>>> I still
>>> find instantly absorbing is Proust in English (In Search of Lost
>>> Time), in
>>> the original translation by Scott Moncrieff and also the later Penguin
>>> version of 1981 based on translations by Scott Moncrieff and Terence
>>> Kilmartin.
>>>
>>
>> ***************************************
>> Charles L. Sligh
>> Department of English
>> University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
>> Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
>> ***************************************
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> ILDS mailing list
>> ILDS at lists.uvic.ca
>> https://lists.uvic.ca/mailman/listinfo/ilds
>>
>>
>>
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 3
> Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 01:17:08 +0200
> From: Marc Piel <marcpiel at interdesign.fr>
> Subject: Re: [ilds] tout comme les pens ?es fran?ais
> To: Charles-Sligh at utc.edu, ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Message-ID: <4AD3B8F4.7030105 at interdesign.fr>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
>
> This may not be the answer you expected, but for
> me there is no difference between LD and Darley....
>
> Charles Sligh a ?crit :
>> Marc writes:
>>
>>  Hello Charles,
>> Thank you for your posts.
>>
>> Thanks, Marc.  I have my loyalties.  Durrell is one.  He still shows me new things and brings many surprises.
>>
>> Could you explain how a Frenchman _might_ take Darley's comment: "tout comme les pens??es fran??ais[. . . .]" &c.?
>>
>> Thanks--enjoy!
>>
>> Charles
>>
>> ***************************************
>> Charles L. Sligh
>> Department of English
>> University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
>> Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
>> ***************************************
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> ILDS mailing list
>> ILDS at lists.uvic.ca
>> https://lists.uvic.ca/mailman/listinfo/ilds
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 4
> Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 11:01:53 +1100
> From: "Denise Tart & David Green" <dtart at bigpond.net.au>
> Subject: [ilds] On First Discovering Lawrence Durrell
> To: "Durrel" <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
> Message-ID: <CCD65F0FD9BA4026A0BB659E78872C2A at MumandDad>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>
> Sumantra wrote: It seems to me that on the ILDS forum, quite a few people to be gripped by
> Durrell's writing first read him as adolescents.
>
> I can't speak for all, but I first discovered LD as an adolescent via My Family & other Animals. The character of Larry and his loony friends was so hilariously invoked by brother Gerald that I had to know more about him. From here I discovered Prospero's Cell, then the other Island books. My mother showed me Justine which I attempted as a teenager but could get into until I was much older. I still think the island books contain some of LD's finest writing - and stereotypes to which I wish to return.
>
> Others may have noticed that LD trades in 'national characteristics'. Thus we have apes in nightgowns, father Nicholas and Manoli, the typical greeks, Sabri the Turk. On page 45 of Bitter Lemons Durrell writes "...history - the lamp that illuminates national charater.."
>
> Sabri is described on page 39 as:-
>
> But what was truly Turkish about him was the physical repose with which he confronted the world. No Greek can sit still without fidgeting, tapping a foot or a pencil, jerking a knee, or making a popping noise with his tongue. The turk has a monolithic poise, an air of reptilian concentration and silence.
>
> This is charming but a generalisation surely. No Greek! I saw many Greeks in Paros sitting outside taverns with only cigarette smoke wafting drifting up from their fingers telling of any movement and they would sit there for hours. Above, the Greeks are warmly described, but there is menace in the Turk - reptilian concentration like a snake about to strike. National characteristics can be a convenient tool for a writer and can be amusing for a reader (or annoying) but they cannot ever be entirely accurate. What for example is the American national character, or the English, the Australian? The French, as personified by Pombal, are lazy, fornicating types whose Gallic charm masks a philosophical ossification. And on the point of philosophical ossification that Durrell mentions in his description of Pombal, I think Durrell is saying that French thinking begins in excitement and discovery and ends in some form of armour proper, a stereotyped response.
>
> To illustrate this point I take the military inventiveness of the french under the early Napoleon which hardened into a standard doctrine of bludgeoning aggression carried right through to World War One where red trousered French infantry enthusiastically charged German machine guns to no avail. A strategic and tactical doctrine was no longer being thought about, merely enacted as the proper response. This ossification is what I think Durrell means when describing Pombal and the Gallic temperament.
>
>
> David
>
> 16 William Street
> Marrickville NSW  2204
> +61 2 9564 6165
> 0412 707 625
> dtart at bigpond.net.au
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> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 5
> Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 08:46:18 -0400
> From: "Charles Sligh" <Charles-Sligh at utc.edu>
> Subject: [ilds] the quartet & debate
> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Message-ID: <1255437978.5023dc7cCharles-Sligh at utc.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
>
> Forgive the insertion of partisan politics into the listserv, but it now appears that Durrell's _Quartet_ is set to become a sort of flash-point for political debate on the American scene.  Who would guess?
>
> Here below please find an extended commentary on a political blog.  The links included there will lead you to earlier comments on Durrell & the _Quartet_.
>
> ***
> Jim Leach's bridge to nowhere
> www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/10/024698.php&ct=ga&cd=BSZFHUbm5Xs&usg=AFQjCNHwA99JM_1_cF5AGFwXmpkvIPNgIQ
>
>
>
> ***************************************
> Charles L. Sligh
> Department of English
> University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
> Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
> ***************************************
>
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 6
> Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 08:53:56 +0000
> From: RW HEDGES <rwhedges at hotmail.co.uk>
> Subject: [ilds] MOOMINS
> To: <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
> Message-ID: <BAY136-W2896E827D7229CB50A58DE8FC70 at phx.gbl>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>
>
>  Yes it has dragged on this talk but I like it! I think of course that we should burn the universities to the ground using all our precious books as kindling. You can keep one book!
>
>  What would it be? mines a terrible toss up. of course great books stay with you so it may well be an almanac. To take Prosperos or the Black book is pointless they are all still in my noggin. None of the quartet will do far too down although I do love the duck hunt in Justine. I was thinking Antoine St Exuperys the little prince but in my heart its Tove Jansens Moomin valley in november.
>
>  That is how silly it all gets. Like desert island discs it all opens a really tasty can of worms. Nabakov. Have to read him. Bet you he's not a patch on Gogol!
>
>  Tunc is the next Durrell book i'm reading. No one ever talks about Tunc here. Is it shit?
>
> RW Hedges
>
> _________________________________________________________________
> Save time by using Hotmail to access your other email accounts.
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> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 7
> Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 11:26:07 -0700
> From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> Subject: Re: [ilds] On First Discovering Lawrence Durrell
> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Cc: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> Message-ID: <EBD5A0A7-F5AC-4A20-BCC5-BFC8FF04CAA7 at earthlink.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="windows-1252"
>
> Once again, I think, David has hit upon a key point in reading and
> appreciating Durrell, namely, his generalizations are usually
> idiosyncratic and often wrong.  But the world the reader enters and
> enjoys, with the avidity of a child reading fairy tales ? that is
> Durrell's world, largely imaginative, almost wholly invented, and
> greatly distorted.  One of my favorite chapters in his writings is
> "How to Buy a House" in Bitter Lemons.
>
>
> Bruce
>
>
> On Oct 12, 2009, at 5:01 PM, Denise Tart & David Green wrote:
>
>> Sumantra wrote: It seems to me that on the ILDS forum, quite a few
>> people to be gripped by
>> Durrell's writing first read him as adolescents.
>>
>> I can't speak for all, but I first discovered LD as an adolescent
>> via My Family & other Animals. The character of Larry and his loony
>> friends was so hilariously invoked by brother Gerald that I had to
>> know more about him. From here I discovered Prospero's Cell, then
>> the other Island books. My mother showed me Justine which I
>> attempted as a teenager but could get into until I was much older. I
>> still think the island books contain some of LD's finest writing -
>> and stereotypes to which I wish to return.
>>
>> Others may have noticed that LD trades in 'national
>> characteristics'. Thus we have apes in nightgowns, father Nicholas
>> and Manoli, the typical greeks, Sabri the Turk. On page 45 of Bitter
>> Lemons Durrell writes "...history - the lamp that illuminates
>> national charater.."
>>
>> Sabri is described on page 39 as:-
>>
>> But what was truly Turkish about him was the physical repose with
>> which he confronted the world. No Greek can sit still without
>> fidgeting, tapping a foot or a pencil, jerking a knee, or making a
>> popping noise with his tongue. The turk has a monolithic poise, an
>> air of reptilian concentration and silence.
>>
>> This is charming but a generalisation surely. No Greek! I saw many
>> Greeks in Paros sitting outside taverns with only cigarette smoke
>> wafting drifting up from their fingers telling of any movement and
>> they would sit there for hours. Above, the Greeks are warmly
>> described, but there is menace in the Turk - reptilian concentration
>> like a snake about to strike. National characteristics can be a
>> convenient tool for a writer and can be amusing for a reader (or
>> annoying) but they cannot ever be entirely accurate. What for
>> example is the American national character, or the English, the
>> Australian? The French, as personified by Pombal, are lazy,
>> fornicating types whose Gallic charm masks a philosophical
>> ossification. And on the point of philosophical ossification that
>> Durrell mentions in his description of Pombal, I think Durrell is
>> saying that French thinking begins in excitement and discovery and
>> ends in some form of armour proper, a stereotyped response.
>>
>> To illustrate this point I take the military inventiveness of the
>> french under the early Napoleon which hardened into a standard
>> doctrine of bludgeoning aggression carried right through to World
>> War One where red trousered French infantry enthusiastically charged
>> German machine guns to no avail. A strategic and tactical doctrine
>> was no longer being thought about, merely enacted as the proper
>> response. This ossification is what I think Durrell means when
>> describing Pombal and the Gallic temperament.
>>
>>
>> David
>>
>> 16 William Street
>> Marrickville NSW  2204
>> +61 2 9564 6165
>> 0412 707 625
>> dtart at bigpond.net.au
>> _______________________________________________
>
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