[ilds] Durrell's Heritage

Lee Sternthal lasternthal at gmail.com
Mon Feb 7 17:02:42 PST 2011


M. Ondaatje is the only contemporary, "popular writer" I can think of who distinctly carries on the LD tradition.  His influence on O's work is palpable in almost all of his poetry and prose not only in language and construction, but in a character's relationship to his environment, whether it's the English Patient in his burnt ou chateau, Billy Bolden in his Mephistophelean New Oleans, or Caravaggio in Toronto in "the skin if a lion.". Even his memoir of Ceylon has Durrell written all over it.

On Feb 6, 2011, at 10:50 AM, gkoger at mindspring.com wrote:

> I too have found the qualities Sumantra mentions in Berger's G and Cortazar's Hopscotch. Is the trilogy Drifting Cities (1960-65) by Tsirkas a possibility? I admit that I haven't been able to get very far into it, but perhaps someone else has. Durrell's influence on Fowles's The Magus is maybe more likely. How about Moorcock's Mother London?
> 
> Durrell seems to stand at the end of a tradition, so I don't see any descendants, but if we are simply looking for works that share something of the "spell" or the quality of prose and the creation of atmosphere that Sumantra mentions, I'd suggest Wilder's The Cabala (1926), Prokosch's The Asiatics (1935) and The Seven Who Fled (1937), and Isherwood's Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1939). This takes the discussion a bit further afield, but I can't help thinking that all these writers share a certain outlook and that maybe it tells us something about Durrell himself.
> 
> Grove
> 
> -----Original Message-----
>> From: James Gifford <james.d.gifford at gmail.com>
>> Sent: Feb 6, 2011 10:10 AM
>> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>> Subject: Re: [ilds] Durrell's Heritage
>> 
>> 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 
>> established.
>> 
>> 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.
>> 
>> Cheers,
>> James
>> 
>> --------------
>> 
>> 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 
>> Orr.
>> 
>> Peter Midgley discussed Brink's use of Durrell (in the Afrikaans and 
>> English versions of /The Ambassador/) at the 2007 ACLALS conference in 
>> Vancouver.
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