[ilds] genius

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Thu Oct 15 06:14:05 PDT 2009

"Durrell wrote too fast and didn't revise enough. A
Cambridge tutor could have sharpened his judgment, without
compromising his talent, unless carelessness is taken to be part of
his genius."


I am wondering if Durrell's autodidacticism and supposed "carelessness" is an issue for you because Durrell was a _British_ writer?   

I see problems with that expectation.

Or is it perhaps because he works and writes after Modernism and the stylistic stricture and refinement of discipline of the Moderns?  

Again, I see problems here, and Durrell comes to us as an upsetter and spoiler of the neat and tidy definitions of modernism and authorship.  Good for him.

By the way, for _Justine_, Durrell did revise with intensity and attention in notebook and in typescript.   That is objectively confirmed by the documents themselves.

My subjective conclusion based upon that textual data is that those changes to _Justine_ help to underscore its deep tide-like cadences and echoes, so the effect is to refine and to focus.  Durrell revises much less often in the other three _Quartet_ novels.

Regarding Darley on French Thought or Durrell on Relativity--I think Durrell is working with the shapes and sounds of ideas, rather than working toward some sort of essayist's argument about truths determined by evidence.   

I wonder if saying that those two "points" about relativity and French thought do not "hold up" under scrutiny misses the point?  

_Justine_ is perhaps not the book for you if you hold up as ideal the schematic fiction of Nabokov's or the stylistic austerity of Beckett.  But LD is very interesting when considered as another part of that larger story. . . .

(That said, I delight in VN's snippy and cranky and astute lectures on literature, which were edited by the University of Virginia's Fredson Bowers.)

By the way, I generally do not prefer reading the "tidied" 1962 version of the _Quartet_.  

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

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