[ilds] Out of school

Richard Pine rpinecorfu at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 17 00:14:52 PDT 2010

'Buttons' is - or was - a real person - the only person whose identity MacNiven 
refuses to reveal, even to persistent enquirers. RP

From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
Cc: "gkoger at mindspring.com" <gkoger at mindspring.com>; Bruce Redwine 
<bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 2:22:10 AM
Subject: Re: [ilds] Out of school


I think we're in agreement here.  "Buttons" could be real, but she also seems to 
me fabricated, at least in part, starting with her moniker, which is the kind of 
nickname someone would give a cat or another pet, like the fictional Cunégonde 
in Caesar's Vast Ghost.  Then there's also her resemblance to characters in 
Durrell's fiction — Melissa in the Quartet and Sabine in Monsieur (p. 41), that 
grimy version of a gypsy, who also flits in and out of a story.  You could say 
he's basing these characters on real examples, but the recurrent pattern makes 
me suspicious.  Yes, Durrell was a fabulator, but quite possibly a far greater 
one than Robert Scholes imagines.  And by that I mean Durrell actually lived his 


On Sep 16, 2010, at 1:51 PM, Godshalk, William (godshawl) wrote:

Yes! Room 13 in all good hotels, does not exist. Is Buttons also nonexistent? An 
>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 
>gkoger at mindspring.com [gkoger at mindspring.com]
>Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2010 2:01 PM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] Out of school
>That's very well put! And isn't there a novel here that one of us should write? 
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Bruce Redwine
>Sent: Sep 16, 2010 11:34 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 

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