[ilds] "draught" & dark labyrinth

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Mon Jan 31 08:52:24 PST 2011


On 1/31/11 11:13 AM, James Gifford wrote:
>
>         It's a typical Durrell wordplay
>         though, generating confusion whenever possible...
>
Thanks to our posters for these various glosses on "draught."

What a translator makes of these words does matter, opening up or 
shutting down meanings depending upon choices.  Translation is one of 
the highest interpretive arts, if not the highest.  Good luck.

Across the works, I find Durrell using "draught" to signify something 
atmospheric (climacteric), or something imbibed, with a few odd meanings 
here and there.

He often seems to signify  a breeze -- e.g., the numerous "cool 
draughts" wafting throughout his descriptions of place, and the smell of 
the sea, Arab bread, cognac, Chianti, the sound of music and beautiful 
language, and the perfume of a lover's head from the pillow can all be 
perceived by means of draught.

But drinking scenes also take "draught," and both meanings occur in 
/Justine/.  Synesthesia.

He does use the word at least once in the sense of "play draughts."  And 
the nautical usage appears in /Balthazar/, /Clea/, &c.

The second occasion of "draught" in /The Dark Labyrinth/ is 
climacteric.  I do not know if that would shape your reading of this 
initial incident.

I will also gloss James' note on the OED & spellings ("draft" versus 
"draught" or "drought") by noting that in notebooks and typescripts 
Durrell was sometimes an indifferent speller.

I think that, as with many writers, some of Durrell's most memorable 
felicities spring from this trait, and it only was compounded by his 
typists or typesetters who in turn made mortal slips.

How the reader will react to these /felix culpas/ tells us more about 
the reader than anything else -- revealing whether the reader is more 
generally Darley or Pursewarden, more Dr. Charles Kinbote or John Shade.

                           I also called on Coates.

     He was afraid he had mislaid his notes.

     He took his article from a steel file:

800    “It’s accurate.  I have not changed her style.

     There’s one misprint—not that it matters much:

/Mountain/, not /fountain/.  The majestic touch.”


     Life Everlasting—based on a misprint!

     I mused as I drove homeward:  take the hint,

     And stop investigating my abyss?

     But all at once it dawned on me that this

     Was the real point, the contrapuntal theme;

     Just this:  not text, but texture; not the dream

     But topsy-turvical coincidence,

810    Not flimsy nonsense, but a web of sense.

     Yes!  It sufficed that I in life could find

     Some kind of link-and-bobolink, some kind

     Of correlated pattern in the game,

     Plexed artistry, and something of the same

     Pleasure in it as they who played it found.

          -- VN, /Pale Fire/ (1962)


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

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