[ilds] Literary English Death

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Wed Feb 2 07:03:20 PST 2011


Yael,

Yes, all pertinent factors re Durrell's difficulty in adjusting to life in England.  With respect to the "English death," however, I would stress David Green's and James Gifford's point about literary "myth making."  The London of The Black Book is cold and inhospitable, but Durrell chooses not to bring in the context of his Indian background and the trauma of being wrenched from it; rather, as he later says, he asks his reader to "recognize [the book] for what it is:  a two-fisted attack on literature by an angry young man of the thirties."


Bruce




On Feb 1, 2011, at 10:55 PM, Yael BD wrote:

> Bruce,
> 
> Indeed. I also think we should take into account issues of social class (which as you know is very different in Britain from in the USA, being entirely to do with birth and not money) and temperament - LD was born and raised in India in an unusual family who largely ignored the rigid social class boundaries of the British upper classes. LD's mother, whom he adored, was very much an "Anglo Indian", and LD spent his formative years in a very warm, non-rigid non-British atmosphere. He also had to cope with a very formal education system that he would have felt like an alien in.
> 
> Then, he was forced to go to Britain for schooling - where he of course felt a terrible culture shock. It's no wonder he hated it. He would have been expected to conform to the behaviour and expectations of upper-class/ upper-middle class British cultural norms, which are in many ways the polar opposite of what he had known and enjoyed in India. LD's family were (and still are) considered very eccentric to British people. When his family moved to England from India, they couldn't fit into the culture and moved to Corfu, where they all found it easier to fit in, and again all of them broke the rigid class barriers by having peasant friends - unacceptable in Britain to move outside class circles, especially at that time.
> 
> And let's not forget the terrible weather, the uncomfortable clothing, the lack of wine culture, the bland food  - English death on Pudding Island indeed. 
> 
> 
> Le 31/01/11 16:55, Bruce Redwine a ?crit 
> 
> Meta,
> 
> 
> 
> I take "Draught" to mean air, i.e., a "current of /cold/ air." English
> 
> buildings, particularly houses and flats, are not well designed, so they
> 
> let in the cold easily. How does this transfer to English character?
> 
> Well, Durrell is being cute, I think, being funny. In the context of
> 
> "the English death," however, Durrell may mean that his fellow
> 
> countrymen are inherently "cold," i.e., emotionally frigid and
> 
> unresponsive, sexually repressed, probably, unlike the warm-blooded
> 
> people of the Mediterranean, who express their feelings readily and
> 
> openly, especially in the sexual sense. That's my guess.
> 
> 
> Bruce
> 
> 

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