[ilds] genius

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Thu Oct 15 08:04:53 PDT 2009

-----Original Message-----
From: BIGPOND ACCOUNT <durrell at telstra.com>

 "A tutor Bruce spreading stifling effluvia  
throughout the recesses of his expansive bubbles is akin to  smoothering the laughter and playfulness at a preschoolers playground."

I had just finished reading Wemmick on Jaggers in _Great Expectations_--"He's as deep as Australia"--when lo!  there was a bit of Australia in my mailbox.  Uncanny.

Bruce's points are legitimate--Durrell's style is distinctive and peculiar and should be attended.  

I appreciate Bruce's points because they test my own different understanding of Durrell's style, helping me to walk around, see things differently for a moment, and not take my own view for a default position.

When Dr. Durrell and Bruce disagree, I think that they are showing us two different notions of education, character, and authors.

The Good Doctor invokes the metaphor of childhood innocence and naivete--cf. Rousseau and Wordsworth, "the poet-child is the father of the poet-man"--a sort of romanticized view of the bard as more successful if he can cast off "civilization" and reconnect with his natural roots.

By contrast, Bruce, if I read him correctly, is holding up a classical ideal of education and character.  The purpose of education in that view is to take the unformed mind and shape, discipline, and measure it against the best examples from the past.  Working within this model, the individual achieves distinction by his or her mastery of our cultural inheritance.

Again, I have probably over-simplified these views.  I am sorry if I have.

Again, I am less interested in what we say about Durrell's education.  Instead, how do Durrell's characters learn and what "education" do the characters have in the _Quartet_?

I am thinking of Darley as a school teacher, and of young Justine #I on the streets of Alex and young Justine #2 playing in happy innocence by the hearth in the island cell. . . .

Durrell was a lecturer--a kind of teacher--and Durrell knew the "terror" of shepherding young minds. . . .


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

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