[ilds] South Wind

Wilson, Fraser Fraser.Wilson at eht.nhs.uk
Tue Sep 14 02:29:05 PDT 2010


South Wind was unable to register in my senses as a coherent whole - as
having a purpose or deducible message. What has stuck with me is the
piercing clarity of parts of the prose, which I still dip in to
frequently. I am particularly interested in his treatment of religion in
the context of the northern and southern European temperament, as below.

Is there any echo of this in Durrell's world picture beyond the obvious
'pudding island' connotations?



"Goth and Latin?"

"One does not always like to employ such terms; they are so apt to
cover deficiency of ideas, or to obscure the issue. But certainly the
sun which colours our complexion and orders our daily habits,
influences at the same time our character and outlook. The almost
hysterical changes of light and darkness, summer and winter, which have
impressed themselves on the literature of the North, are unknown here.
Northern people, whether from climatic or other causes, are prone to
extremes, like their own myths and sagas. The Bible is essentially a
book of extremes. It is a violent document. The Goth or Anglo-Saxon has
taken kindly to this book because it has always suited his purposes. It
has suited his purposes because, according to his abruptly varying
moods, he has never been at a loss to discover therein exactly what he
wanted--authority for every grade of emotional conduct, from savage
vindictiveness to the most abject self-abasement. One thing he would
never have found, had he cared to look for it--an incitement to live the
life of reason, to strive after intellectual honesty and self-respect,
and to keep his mind open to the logic of his five senses. That is why,
during the troubled Middle Ages when the oscillations of national and
individual life were yet abrupter--when, therefore, that classical
quality of temperance was more than ever at a discount--the Bible took
so firm a hold upon you. Its unquiet teachings responded to the unquiet
yearnings of men. Your conservatism, your reverence for established
institutions, has done the rest. No! I do not call to mind any passages
in the Bible commending the temperate philosophic life; though it would
be strange if so large a miscellany did not contain a few sound
reflections. Temperance," he concluded, as though speaking to
himself--"temperance! All the rest is embroidery."



-----Original Message-----
From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [mailto:ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On
Behalf Of Denise Tart & David Green
Sent: 13 September 2010 21:53
To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
Subject: Re: [ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 42,Issue 8_the blue really begins
in the Aegean

"Externalize yourself" may well have been Douglas's lifelong philosophy.
One 
could do worse . . .

Certainly Durrell's three great Island books are more introspective than

Douglas's South Wind, the later being written in the third rather than
first 
person for a start. There is a polished lightness to Douglas's touch
which 
may support Grove's idea of this authors externalisation.  There is 
something deeper, darker and more personal with Durrell's reflections
and 
introspections on Aegean or indeed Ionian Blue. Greece is indeed entered

through a dark crystal and for all the the sunlight and sparkling water,
the 
author is there, brooding and mulling over the past - trying to get back
to 
Arcadian days but not finding them because he and the world has changed.

David

 

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