[ilds] commentary on islomania

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Tue Dec 22 10:24:28 PST 2009

Thanks, David.  Dessaix's observation is an interesting take or expansion on Durrell's "islomania."  It fits in nicely with his penchant for turning landscapes into allegories of the self.  Considering how prominently islands figure in his work, I wonder why he didn't settle on one.  I believe currency problems had something to do with Durrell choosing Provence over Greece.  Or maybe it was just Claude's smart choice.

"Islomania" first appears at the beginning of Reflections on a Marine Venus (1953).  Or maybe not.  Anyway, I'm fairly certain Durrell coined the word, although the OED 2nd doesn't give him credit.  It cites 1962 as the first instance, nine years off the mark, which goes to show you how low LD's reputation was in the UK.  I just took another look at that opening to Marine Venus and was struck by how much it reminded me of Borges.  The mythic aspects, the imagined characters presented as actual, all that.  Reminded me of "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius."  So the two years in Argentina weren't completely wasted.  Both writers liked labyrinths.

Merry Christmas.  And let me add Sumantra Nag to your list.  Happy New Year, Sumantra.


On Dec 21, 2009, at 10:00 PM, Denise Tart & David Green wrote:

> To my mind the below text applies to LD in some measure - remembering that his last island was Cyprus, a bad experience and he never lived on one again
> Islands are not just islands, are they? I mean, they are not just bits of land surrounded by water, they also stand for something less tangible, always half desired. When you look across the water and see an island, part of you wants to go there, don't you find? I can't help thinking it has got something to do with sudden resolution. there you are floundering in all that eddying, featureless water, with unseen horrors you can only guess at prowling beneath the surface, when suddenly an island appears on the horizon; such a blessedly fixed point, a place of longed for release from anxiety and aimlessness, not too mention the lurking monsters of the subconscious. So an island, even the flattest or rockiest or most barren, seems beautiful. It's the self we'd like to be. Dante of course, if you recall, says that Purgatory is an island, the realm of those who have not wilfully sinned, is an island. There reason still has some hope of becoming a vision.
> - Robert Dessaix Night Letters.
> Robert Dessaix is an Australian writer and radio commentator who is, I think, rather good.
> Denise Tart
> designing ceremonies
> Civil Celebrant - A8807
> 16 William Street
> Marrickville NSW  2204
> +61 2 9564 6165
> 0412 707 625
> dtart at bigpond.net.au
> www.denisetart.com.au
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