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

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sat Jun 19 15:50:55 PDT 2010


Yes, it's entirely possible that a colonial child in the care of a local nanny would learn her language.  MacNiven, however, has LD learning to speak in Burma and under the care of a Burmese "ayah" or nursemaid (pp. 16-17).  So his first language would have been Burmese.  Why doesn't he say that?  Why no mention of Burma?  Because he's inventing or embellishing his Indian genesis.  When the family returns to India in 1915, he has a "new ayah," presumably a speaker of Hindi (p. 19).  MacNiven also notes Durrell's claims about speaking Urdu and does not see a contradiction, the two languages being dialects of Hindustani (p. 693, n. 35).  Somewhere along the line, Durrell also learns English.  Learning multiple languages simultaneously is not unusual.  I'm arguing that Durrell manipulates his facts to suit the occasion of whatever story he's presenting as fact.  He's a fabulator, as I'll discuss in Charles's email.


Bruce



On Jun 19, 2010, at 12:15 PM, Godshalk, William (godshawl) wrote:

> I met many years ago two Scottish/Dutch kids who were reared in the east. They spoken fluent English and Dutch --- and their parents found out one day, to their surprise, that the kids also spoke the local dialect (can't remember which) fluently.
> 
> Why not Durrell too? 
> 
> Bill
> 
> 
> 
> 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 Bruce Redwine [bredwine1968 at earthlink.net]
> Sent: Saturday, June 19, 2010 12:21 PM
> To: Charles-Sligh at utc.edu; ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Cc: Bruce Redwine
> Subject: Re: [ilds] "Our most exalted alumni was Lawrence Durrell"
> 
> 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
> 
> 




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