[ilds] Out of school

Denise Tart & David Green dtart at bigpond.net.au
Thu Sep 16 14:50:24 PDT 2010

Bruce, regarding Durrell's last years - yes, they read like much of the Avignon Quintet with parts of Sicilian Carousel thrown in. Sometimes, like Ol Hemm, writers become characters in their own fiction and caricatures of themselves and come to live what they write very closely - method writing if you like.


From: Bruce Redwine 
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2010 3:34 AM
To: Charles-Sligh at utc.edu ; ilds at lists.uvic.ca 
Cc: Bruce Redwine 
Subject: [ilds] Out of school


Thanks.  If by "out of school" you mean "divulge secrets," then let's divulge more.  Seems to me this is the whole purpose of literary and biographical analysis.  "Buttons" flits in and out of Durrell's last years like that other "waif of the . . . littoral" (Bal. 140), Melissa.  Buttons is even described as having a small, dark, emaciated resemblance to the Greek dancer.  Maybe she too is "phthisic."  Why Room 13?  Is there in fact or ever was a Room 13 in the Hôtel Royal, Montparnasse?  Some hotels don't even have a Room 13 because of superstitiousness.  Durrell liked numerology, like his other dabblings in the occult; he also fantasized a lot, possibly lied.  Eve said he was unreliable when it came to facts.  She described a fabulator:  an "entertainer" who drew people into "his world," who would also "make things up on the spur of the moment to suit the occasion, [though] he believed what he said" (Haag, City of Memory, p. 250).  I'm wondering if something like all that is going on here with Buttons and Room 13.  Durrell's last years — don't they read like one of his novels?


On Sep 15, 2010, at 8:25 PM, Charles Sligh wrote:

  On 9/15/10 10:57 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote: 
    Now, what about those important questions — what's the importance of Room 13, Hôtel Royale, Montparnasse, Paris? and who was "Buttons?" 

  I am not certain what you are asking.  

  Do you need more detail about Buttons than MacNiven gives? 

      "Sometimes his solitude was noisily fractured by a visit from the young woman he called 'Buttons', an employee of the Department of Antiquities at the Sorbonne.  She was almost thirty but she looked much younger, with a girl's small-breasted figure, as dark-haired as Claude Kiefer was blonde, and not languorous but tremendously energetic.  Often she was none too fastidious either[. . . .]" (591).

  Indeed.  Much more than that would be talking out of school, no?

  No. 13?  The place "impregnated" with a sense of all that (and all those) one has done  -- cf. the Durrell-Miller Letters 501.

Charles L. Sligh
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
charles-sligh at utc.edu


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