[ilds] deserving of being called a "hero" or spokesman

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Thu Jun 3 15:49:49 PDT 2010

Interesting.  But I wouldn't be so hard on young LGD.  I don't find him all that tiresome.  Being young and callow is part of growing up, and if M. Durrell is willing to stick with him as principal character in three novels, then critics and readers have to ask why that's the case.  The ending to the Quartet is powerful, hopeful, and indeed saccharine, but I don't see irony undermining any of that.  What's wrong with a little "tenderness," the kind that Pursewarden longed for ("tortured beyond endurance")?  This ending is not like the closure to Vanity Fair, where Thackeray provides a "happy ending" on the quay at Ostend, where the hero finally gets his girl, and where the author simultaneously calls everything into question.  That's a reversal of the happy-ending trope.  I would say that the faults you ascribe to Darley are probably faults in Durrell's execution and your desire to place Pursewarden at the forefront of the story, which he quite simply isn't.  I think one of Durrell's reasons for having Ludwig bump himself off is to allow Darley to grow and take control of the narrative.  As you have said before, more or less, we have to take the Durrell we have, not the one we want.


On Jun 3, 2010, at 1:38 PM, Charles Sligh wrote:

>> The fact that Darley begins and ends four novels, that he is a 
>> developing artist, that he suffers and endures, that he is the main 
>> character through which events unfold or get reported, that he gets 
>> his just deserts, that he surely ends up with the beautiful girl, that 
>> he is the person who finally has "the whole universe" give him a 
>> "nudge" — all that indicates to me that he has a close and special 
>> relationship with his author and is deserving of being called a "hero" 
>> or spokesman, for all his faults and however qualified you want to 
>> define those terms.
> I think that Darley is a favorite spokesman and hero for first time and 
> inexperienced readers of the /Quartet/. With time and vantage, Darley 
> becomes incredibly tiring, and the books undermine him in a devastating 
> sort of way.
> My first response would be to ask, "If we must look to literature for 
> 'morals'--enough character development is found in /Pilgrim's Progress/ 
> and /Robinson Crusoe/ to satisfy such appetites--and 'authors with 
> messages'--/caveat lector/, setting aside Durrellian skepticism!--why 
> would in the world would we patently overlook Pursewarden?"
> My second, more measured and patient response would be to chide myself, 
> "Yes. Of course. The /Quartet/ occurs in the reader's time more than any 
> other 'time.' The reader must have a Darley phase so that he or she 
> might have a Pursewarden phase. Both phases matter. The only character 
> development, in the end, is the development of the reader's character."
> C&c.
> -- 
> ********************************************
> Charles L. Sligh
> Assistant Professor
> Department of English
> University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
> charles-sligh at utc.edu
> ********************************************

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