[ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 31, Issue 11_Message 1 Grove_University

Sumantra Nag sumantranag at gmail.com
Wed Oct 14 07:29:48 PDT 2009

 Message: 1 Date: Sun, 11 Oct 2009 13:28:33 -0400 (EDT)
From: gkoger at mindspring.com
Subject: Re: [ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 31, Issue 7_Message: 2_University

Re. Grove: "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."
Personally I cannot see the Alexandria Quartet emerging in the form in which 
it did if Durrell went to Cambridge and I for one would have missed this 
marvellously evocative work. For one thing Durrell's life may have taken a 
different course. But when I read Lolita I am not that sure about a 
Cambridge education influencing Durrell's writing in a major way, although 
it might have happened. Lolita is not a book I would have expected from a 
Cambridge graduate but there it is! And this is despite Nabokov's academic 
achievements at Cambridge! His literary individuality was obviously not 
affected. Strange? Perhaps not. Did Cambridge influence Isherwood's writing? 
Doubtful. But of course Isherwood got himself expelled and as good as failed 
in his second year at Cambridge by answering his examination questions in 

All writers are unique in their own way but on the whole I think the 
uniqueness of Lawrence Durrell's writing is strongly linked with the life 
that he ended up by leading.

Consider these lines from 'Justine', where Darley and Melissa walk together 
after Melissa has visited him for the first time:

"We idled arm in arm by the sea that afternoon, our conversations full of 
the debris of lives lived without forethought, without architecture..." 
(Justine p.55, The Alexandria Quartet, Faber paper covered edition, 1962)

"...lives lived without forethought or architecture..". Is this what gives 
Durrell's writing a particular quality - the undirected life without 


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