[ilds] "Our most exalted alumni was Lawrence Durrell"

James Gifford james.d.gifford at gmail.com
Sat Jun 19 13:34:40 PDT 2010

Hey Bruce,

Look no further than the actual topic of the essay itself for your 
answer -- Durrell likely exaggerated, though not quite so much, his 
early languages for the sake of emphasizing his discomfited position 
within Englishness.  The whole essay points to that.  As for his Hindi 
and Urdu, it's sprinkled liberally throughout /Pied Piper of Lovers/, 
and Manzaloui complains that Durrell's Arabic words in the /Quartet/ are 
polluted with Urdu...  I don't know those languages, so I can only pass 
along those comments.

As for the rope trick, I remember many things from my childhood that I 
know are not real.  While Durrell was *very* prone to obfuscation and 
outright lies in his interviews, I'm rather inclined to be generous in 
this instance.  Many but not most of the other lies strike me as 
intentional baffle-gab.


ps: sorry for plugging my /Pied/ edition, but...

On 19/06/10 9:21 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
> In his 1983 memoir, "From the Elephant's Back" /(Fiction Magazine),/ LD
> writes, "I have seen the peak of Everest from the foot of my bed in a
> gaunt dormitory in Darjeeling" (p. 59). In his biography of LD, MacNiven
> writes, "Here was an innocent example of fiction revising reality: Larry
> /wanted/ to remember it that way. Everest is not visible from any point
> in Darjeeling" (p. 40). I assume MacNiven takes this memoir, in part at
> least, as fiction — and for good reason. In the same essay, LD also
> writes about his early experiences in India, "I have seen the Rope Trick
> when I was ten . . . My first language was Hindi" (p. 59). The "Indian
> Rope Trick" is one of the great hoaxes of recent times, as Peter Lamont
> exposes in /The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick: How a Spectacular Hoax
> Became History/ (2004). The "rope trick" never existed, but Durrell
> claims he saw it. I seriously doubt that LD's "first language" was
> "Hindi." Another lie. Has anyone fully explained Durrell's propensity to
> lie? Was it as "innocent" as MacNiven graciously says?
> Bruce
> On Jun 18, 2010, at 9:06 PM, Charles Sligh wrote:
>> More news from the mountains of Tennessee.
>> ***
>> Spy for Tibet finds karma in Tennessee
>> As told to Henry Hamman
>> Published: June 19 2010
>> http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/18de46d4-799d-11df-85be-00144feabdc0.html
>>> I was educated at a Jesuit school in Darjeeling, St Joseph’s, the
>>> usual kind of English-language school in India at the time. I was
>>> there with the Dalai Lama’s youngest brother and other Tibetans. Our
>>> most exalted alumni was Lawrence Durrell.
>> --
>> ********************************************
>> Charles L. Sligh
>> Assistant Professor
>> Department of English
>> University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
>> charles-sligh at utc.edu
>> ********************************************
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