[ilds] A QUESTION AND AN OBSERVATION

William Apt billyapt at gmail.com
Tue Aug 31 11:35:27 PDT 2010


Bruce:

Thank you for yr most gracious reply and clarification.  I appreciate it.  I
tried reading the Bowker bio and found it way too reliant on conjecture.
MacNiven's on the other hand is rich in solid fact and provides far greater
insight.  For example, Bowker, as I recall, does not dwell at all on
Durrell's mother's family.  MacNiven does. Whereas Samuel Durrell's mother
was a frightening harpy and Samuel himself was straight-laced, insecure,
ambitious and preoccupied with conformity,  his wife Louisa was from
a pleasant, less uptight background, without as much apparent concern for
social standing.  She was also intrigued by Eastern religion.  To me this is
significant:  it suggests that Durrell was by nature likely torn between the
two:  ambitious with a deep drive for acceptance like his father, but, like
his mother, the inclination toward jolly non-conformity.

BILLY


On Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 12:58 PM, Bruce Redwine
<bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>wrote:

> I've read Bowker's biography but only parts of MacNiven's.  Still, I find
> your comments fresh, insightful, and provocative.  Durrell's flight from
> England has been discussed before, with the majority of the opinion that he
> wasn't temperamentally suited for the discipline of Cambridge or Oxford.  My
> opinion is that Oxbridge would have done young Durrell a lot of good.
>  MacNiven also suggests that Durrell may not have even taken the entrance
> examinations to Cambridge (p. 697, n. 71).  So, LD's claim that he failed
> the exams "about eight times" *(The Paris Review,* 22, Autumn-Winter 1960)
> may have been a lie.  The pattern seems to be that Durrell dissembles and
> throws up smoke screens.  That, I think, accounts for the confusion you've
> detected.  As some critic has said of Iago in *Othello,* the problem is
> not that Iago lacks motivation for his crime, rather that he provides too
> many reasons for hating the Moor.  I too am confused about Durrell's
> explanation(s) of his motivation.
>
> You're onto something about the son mimicking his father the engineer.
>  (The lost father haunts David Mountolive:  "The defection of his father
> stood always between them as their closest bond" *[Mountolive,* p. 97].)
>  I like the analogy.  I also like bringing in Cézanne and his concern for an
> underlying structure (although I can't recall LD citing Cézanne as one of
> his "exemplars").  Re Space-Time, I've finished another reading of J.
> Frank's classic, *The Idea of Spatial Form* (1945, 1991), which treats
> Modernism's use of time as space.  Had Durrell read that, he would have
> realized his project wasn't novel.  Proust, Joyce, and Djuna Barnes were all
> ahead of him.  He might have learned that at Cambridge.
>
>
> Bruce
>
>
>
>
>  On Aug 30, 2010, at 6:08 PM, William Apt wrote:
>
>  Dear all:
>
> QUESTION:  I'm reading Prof. MacNiven's Durrell bio, which is great.  But
> am a bit confused regarding a passage I encountered today.  On page 93:  the
> discussion about Durrell in his 20s not having direction, but realizing he
> must follow some defined path in the form of occupation, or else find his
> life merely a search for meaning that does not net the Big Answer.  Do I
> understand Durrell to have believed that ANY defined occupational path was
> neverthless a cop-out?  Even the pursuit of art?  But if one lacks talent
> AND refuses to get a regular job and just continues, like so many bohemians,
> to flounder their way through life, how is that courageous?  How does that
> not end in "doom"?  And then how is the pursuit of art by one with talent
> cowardly?  What does he mean that cowardice is the only escape?  I'm
> completely lost on this one.
>
> OBSERVATION:  For those better versed in Durrell, please forgive me.  What
> I about to say may already be well known.  On Page 94 of the bio, I realized
> for the first time that, contrary to Durrell's image of himself as
> completely different from that of his father, the two were quite similar in
> a fundamental way:  Durrell approached the construction of his portrayal of
> the pysches of his characters like his father did the construction of public
> works projects.  "Space against Time curves and stresses, structures and
> dimensions..."  Durrell was every bit the engineer that his father was, only
> their materials were different.  Durrell was like Cezanne in that way:  both
> sought to reveal the dynamic inner structure of things.
>
> --
> WILLIAM APT
> Attorney at Law
> 7004 Bee Cave Rd, Bldg 1,
> Ste 205
> Austin TX 78746
> 512/708-8300
> 512/708-8011 FAX
>
>
>
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>


-- 
WILLIAM APT
Attorney at Law
7004 Bee Cave Rd, Bldg 1,
Ste 205
Austin TX 78746
512/708-8300
512/708-8011 FAX
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