[ilds] Durrell and Borges

Sumantra Nag sumantranag at gmail.com
Sat Dec 26 22:26:27 PST 2009


Thanks for your prompt response. I've been reading the novel 'G.' by John Berger (1972). The descriptive portions about the thunderstorm and the demonstration in Milan are endowed with a quality which may broadly be described by the well-worn term "apocalyptic". The encounter with a young but not beautiful Roman woman who tries to shield the young eleven year-old "G" after he drifts into the demonstration with its violent aftermath, is also charged with a brief but emotional quality reminiscent of Thomas De Quincey's encounter with a destituted young woman in London in "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater" when he himself was passing his days as a youthful destitute in the city. The structure of the novel also includes broken and self-contained passages of description and subject matter, elements common to Durrell's "Alexandria Quartet" but more generally, I suppose, to passages from Joyce's "Ulysses".

These are fleeting observations. I am copying this message to James Gifford on the basis of your reference about his work on postmodern fiction and literature. I hope I have got the right email addresses.

Best wishes


----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Bruce Redwine 
  To: Sumantra Nag ; Durrell list 
  Cc: Bruce Redwine 
  Sent: Saturday, December 26, 2009 11:08 PM
  Subject: Durrell and Borges


  My readings in "postmodern" fiction are minimal, so I can't comment, although that wave seems to have come and gone, with exceptions, namely, Pynchon, who still writes.  The moderators are better able to handle this question, Gifford in particular.  Borges seems quite relevant to Durrellian studies.  A casual reading of Borges's ficciones shows points of comparison.  Take this sentences from "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius":  "Mirrors and copulation are abominable, for they multiply the number of mankind."  Durrell could have written that, under the influence of the Argentine.  The two met in Buenos Aires on at least one occasion in 1948 (?) or thereabouts.  A lot could be done with those two writers — and probably already has.


  On Dec 25, 2009, at 10:27 AM, Sumantra Nag wrote:


    Thank you for your good wishes, and my best wishes to you for Christmas and the New Year.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all on ILDS. It's been a great forum for correspondence!

    Charles, Happy New year, if you happen to read this!

    Incidentally, Bruce wrote: "I just took another look at that opening to Marine Venus and was struck by how much it reminded me of Borges".

    I have just started reading some of the stories of Borges. I've also been trying to get a view of postmodern novels - as a sort of extension to the novels of Lawrence Durrell. Any general comments on the genre of postmodern fiction and Lawrence Durrell's novels - the novels of the Alexandria Quartet in particular?

    Message: 1
    Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2009 10:24:28 -0800
    From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
    Subject: Re: [ilds] commentary on islomania

    "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 "Tl?n, 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.

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