[ilds] Cunégonde

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sun Jan 30 08:30:20 PST 2011

Marc's explanation is both erudite and relevant, but I suspect what appealed to LGD's sense of humor was Richard Pine's definition of "the cunt on which the 
sexual business of the world hinged."  Durrell admired Rabelais, often talked about him (which we haven't), and this name is just the sort of grotesque nonsense the great Frenchman would have come up with.  Cunégonde, Durrell's Latex doll-woman, keeping his narrator comfort in his old age, is outrageously ridiculous — and so is her name.


On Jan 30, 2011, at 5:25 AM, Marc Piel wrote:

> Can I add a little uncontrived bit?
> Cunégonde is a  medieval given name, derived from 
> the Germanic "kühn"= daring, and "gund"=combat, 
> and means "one who fears nothing. "
> It was fairly common until the thirteenth century 
> in Germany, Flanders and Poland. But the 
> unfortunate jokes that it's pronunciation allows, 
> in France, have quickly shelved it. It would seem 
> that it has only been used 23 times sine 1900. The 
> pronounciation suggests: idiocy, not very bright, 
> candidly stupid, hollow, etc....
> "Gonde" is french but "cune" is not!
> Marc Piel
> Le 29/01/11 22:32, Richard Pine a écrit :
>> In my participation in the LD documentary in 1998 (BBC) I did suggest that
>> 'Cunegonde' was a play on 'Cune' = cunt and 'gonde' = french for 'hinge'. And
>> yes, there is the Candide con(sic) nection but I didn't raise (sic) this in the
>> tv prog. RP
>> ----- Original Message ----
>> From: Bruce Redwine<bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
>> To: "gifford at fdu.edu"<gifford at fdu.edu>; "ilds at lists.uvic.ca"
>> <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
>> Sent: Sat, January 29, 2011 9:28:48 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ilds] the purse
>> Congratulations!  RP did provide, I believe, an interesting etymology for
>> Cunegonde, not of the "Candide" variety.  So at least three of us have dirty
>> minds.  Durrell does encourage this kind of research.  I wonder if the women on
>> this List would consider that misogyny or would dismiss it as male infantile
>> behavior.
>> BR
>> Sent from my iPhone
>> On Jan 29, 2011, at 10:27 AM, James Gifford<james.d.gifford at gmail.com>  wrote:
>>> On 29/01/11 8:37 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>>>> I would swear that it was. So much for memory.
>>>>> On Jan 29, 2011, at 12:03 AM, Richard Pine wrote:
>>>>> Wasn't me! RP
>>>>>> On 28/01/11 11:20:13 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>>>>>> *Pursewarden.*Sometime ago, R. Pine, I believe, pointed out that
>>>>>> Ludwig's surname was a pun or allusion to the scrotum. Or maybe I
>>>>>> just have a dirty mind. Bill Godshalk can confirm this
>>> Alas, looking back at the listserv's records, I find that *I* said it:
>>> Fri, 9 Jul 2003 17:08:36 -0400.  AJ French chimed in on this point as
>>> well, and Bruce showed much interest.  My goodness we've been after
>>> those purse strings for a long time!
>>> Still, "purse" was used by Elizabethans in this form, as Bill noted, and
>>> it appears in the OED with this association.  I'm intrigued to note that
>>> the word "purse" occurs repeatedly in relation to the mouth in /Pied
>>> Piper/ and /Panic Spring/ (and no, not just pursing one's lips).  I
>>> wonder if a collocation would turn up interesting patterns in this
>>> regard across Durrell's works over time.
>>> Cheers,
>>> James

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