[ilds] Durrell's Heritage

James Gifford james.d.gifford at gmail.com
Sun Feb 6 09:10:14 PST 2011

On 05/02/11 11:07 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
> Good point.  One measure of a writer's importance is
> his legacy and descendants.  Does Lawrence Durrell
> have either or both?

Provocative as always, Bruce...  Yet, I think this is quite well 

Kathy Acker quotes from Durrell in her novels, Anthony Burgess doesn't 
acknowledge it but his recognition of Durrell has been discussed on this 
listserv, Peter Porter called Durrell a major overlooked poet, Julio 
Cortazar drew from the Quartet to write Hopscotch, and even here in 
Canada M.G. Vassanji (repeated winner of the Governor General's Award 
for Literature) has made his debt to Durrell clear.  Similar things have 
been said of Michael Ondaatje, Andre Brink, and Thomas Pynchon.

It's true that no "school" or movement emerged from Durrell's works, but 
then again, he explicitly didn't want one...

If, however, we're looking at shifts in writing paradigms, which I think 
is akin to Sumantra's comments to which you were responding, then 
Durrell doesn't do so badly after all.  He was a significant 
counter-voice to the Angry Young Men, and despite playing with that term 
when /The Black Book/ was reprinted, his prose bears no comparison. 
/The Black Book/ cannot be described as bland prose when set next to 
/Lucky Jim/ (not that either book is worsened in that comparison).  In 
many respects, Durrell kept the British vein of experimental writing 
alive when the age of the kitchen sink novel was in its ascendancy with 
gritty realism.

David Roessel has also noted the importance of Durrell and Miller to 
shifting literary Philhellenism from its Romantic models.

But, those are just my two cents...  For what they're worth, I'm 
pitching in citations below.



Sligh, Charles L. "Reading the Divergent Weave: A Note and Some 
Speculations on Durrell and Cortazar." /Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell 
Journal/ NS 6 (1998): 118-132.

Gifford, James. "Vassanji's Toronto and Durrell's Alexandria: The View 
from Across or the View from Beside?" /The Journal of Commonwealth and 
Postcolonial Studies/ 15.2 (2008): 28-43.

Swan, Susan. "Corfu: Visiting Lawrence Durrell's White House (from My 
Greek Journals)." /Writing Away: The PEN Canada Travel Anthology/. Ed. 
Constance Rooke. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1994. 295-306.

Maynard, John. "On Desert Ground: Ondaatje's The English Patient, 
Durrell, and the Shifting Sands of Critical Typologies." /Deus Loci: The 
Lawrence Durrell Journal/ NS 5 (1997): 66-74.

Pynchon's links to Durrell have been noted by (in chronological order) 
Kingsley Widmer, Roger Henkle, Michael Boccia, Carol Peirce, and Leonard 

Peter Midgley discussed Brink's use of Durrell (in the Afrikaans and 
English versions of /The Ambassador/) at the 2007 ACLALS conference in 

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