[ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 31, Issue 11_Bruce_LD and Relativity

Sumantra Nag sumantranag at airtelmail.in
Wed Oct 14 10:08:58 PDT 2009

Message: 3
Date: Sun, 11 Oct 2009 15:27:38 -0700
From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: [ilds] VN & LD

Re. Bruce: 'For good reason Durrell decided, either on  his own or on the 
advice of his editor, to eliminate his 1958 note to  Balthazar from the 
collected 1962 edition of the Quartet. That  statement about his plan as a 
"soup-mix," with embellishments from  Einstein's Relativity theory about 
space-time, is silly and and won't  hold up under scrutiny.  You may take 
his note as an extended  metaphor, exciting in its sweep and novelty, but on 
close examination  it looks pompous and foolish.  It won't hold up ? writing 
four novels  from different perspectives is equatable to General Relativity? 
Or  was it Special Relativity? ? neither of which I even pretend to 
understand, except in the most simplified sense.  I like to think a  good 
education will train you to think clearly and accurately, and I  don't think 
this would have harmed any of Durrell's "instincts." '
Bruce, I noticed only after reading your post, that the opening NOTE in 
Balthazar (Faber, paperback, 1958) had been removed from the collected 
publication of The Alexandria Quartet, (Faber, paperback 1962). I  agree 
that the removal was fortunate! Durrell's reference to the theory of 
relativity as a base for the structure of his proposed novels, and the 
comment at the end of the NOTE saying that the result might prove 'to be a 
"science-fiction" in the true sense', did seem to indicate a naive 
invocation of a complex scientific theory and a light-hearted use of the 
term 'science-fiction'. Reading Balthazar in its original form, when it was 
first published, this NOTE did strike a somewhat questionable tone. But 
wouldn't that also apply to the other pronouncement in the NOTE which could 
also raise questions:

"The central topic of the book is an investigation of modern love."

Durrell's takes refuge in the following statement in the last paragraph of 
the NOTE:

"These considerations sound perhaps somewhat immodest or even pompous."

My understanding is that Durrell wrote the novels of the AQ fast (even if 
the growth of Justine was many years in the making) and he did not revise 
his drafts. Revision alone may have improved the text.

But your point probably addresses the matter of judgement in the first 
place, and its shaping by academic training.


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