[ilds] Finally

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 1 12:42:31 PDT 2010


I disagree again, I think.  I guess WG's main point is that literature exists in its own separate dimension, that authors live in theirs, that we readers live in ours, and that one shouldn't confuse the three.  This is close to the old position of the New Criticism —  Brooks and Warren, along with Ransom and Wimsatt, those influential critics and their views from the 1930s through the 60s.  So we once got into the habit of talking about personae and saying, the narrator or persona says such and such, but if we claimed, the author says such and such, then we immediately got into trouble and slapped on the wrist for saying something unacceptable and unprobable.  This admonition has its place and usefulness.  It works well from certain kinds of  poets (Browning and his dramatic monologues) but not for others (Keats and his great odes).  Generally, I don't think the English Romantics benefit from this approach, Byron being the obvious exception.  Nor does Durrell, in my view, for all his love of multiple voices and narrators, especially all that "begat" stuff at the end of Monsieur, which I view as a lot of noise.  So, I don't hold to WG's straitjacket of literary interpretation, if that's what he's advocating.  I tend to look at Durrell's writings through the lens of his life and try to explain the former in terms of the latter.  Seems a lot more interesting to me.  At least, it fully engages the problem of Darley being such a weird narrator and character, as Billy Apt has recently pointed out.


Bruce



On May 31, 2010, at 9:18 PM, Godshalk, William (godshawl) wrote:

> Of course, as I often remind any one who will read, Darley is a literary character. He doesn't do anything -- not as you and I do things. 
> 
> Would it make sense for me to say, I invited Darley over last weekend so that I could read him. Things didn't go well after he seduced Justine (in this forking path) my beloved wife. I sent him away by the earliest post. He is now back at the library. 
> 
> Perhaps these things could happen in a certain kind of novel.
> 
> Wm 
> 
> W. L. Godshalk *
> Department of English    *           *
> University of Cincinnati*   * Stellar Disorder  *
> OH 45221-0069 *  *
> ________________________________________
> From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On Behalf Of William Apt [billyapt at gmail.com]
> Sent: Monday, May 31, 2010 7:54 PM
> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Cc: Bruce Redwine
> Subject: Re: [ilds] Finally
> 
> Gentlemen:
> 
> I see both positions, and both make sense.  But as I gave it some more thought, this occurred to me too:  Darley, we must remember, is not, by own admission, a particularly  exceptional fellow; in fact, at the beginning of Justine one theme is the aimlessness of his own life, at what a low point he is,  and how emotionally bankrupt he is.  As I recall, Durrell once said in an interview that he (Durrell) had never been happy.  Perhaps Darley possesses a self-loathing quality - one that maybe Durrell was not fully aware of - that accounts for his mysteriously passive acceptance of rejection by women?
> 
> BILLY APT
> 
> 
> On Mon, May 31, 2010 at 11:14 AM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net<mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>> wrote:
> Congratulations on finishing the Quartet.
> 
> William Apt raises important questions that, in my opinion, are not answered by raising the old Durrellian placard about Truth and its elusiveness, i.e., "Truth is what most contradicts itself."  Apt, if I may speak for him, is questioning the depth of Durrell's characterization of Darley, who bears the same initials as the author himself, LGD.  I have to agree with Apt.  Durrell's part-time narrator is shallow, as shallow as the tepid sands of the estuary where Melissa lies buried.  Now Durrell, in the execution of his Quartet, may have decided to emphasize the ambiguity or relativity of the world we live in, which makes Alexandria so dazzling and bewitching a place, but in doing so he sacrificed his main narrator and did not make him particularly convincing as a human being.  He's like Thales, the first Greek philosopher, who walked around contemplating the big questions and then fell into a well and broke his neck.  On the other hand, maybe this is exactly what old Durrel!
> l wanted.  "Who knows?" as WG might say.
> 
> 
> Bruce
> 
> 
> 
> On May 30, 2010, at 10:33 AM, Godshalk, William (godshawl) wrote:
> 
> 
> The Quartet is a great and rewarding work.  But of all its mysteries, to me the greatest one is this:  How could Darley be completely unfazed when he finds out that Justine only wanted to use him;  that Melissa was never turned on by him; and that Clea wanted out of the relationship so bad she started going wacko?  II'd be crushed, but not him!
> 
> Yes, but can Darley ever KNOW that these are truths? Justine (the novel) is apparently the truth when Darley first gets involved with Justine (the woman). Then Bal gives his vision in the great redaction. Then an unknown narrator tells the story from Mountolive's point of view -- which is quite different. Finally Clea gets her shot at re-redaction.
> 
> When Darley finishes (both reading and writing) these related narratives, he's probably more puzzled than crushed.
> 
> What is truth asked  jesting Durrell
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