[ilds] Will Durrell Survive

Denise Tart & David Green dtart at bigpond.net.au
Mon Feb 7 23:06:33 PST 2011


Before responding directly to Rony below, I pause to express a certain breathlessness (and no I am not a smoker) at the recent flood of correspondence. I get home from work and it's like picking an enjoyable story from the day the before. good to see so many new names firing off like a line of Union infantry and good to see that James bought some whisky or was it whiskey. Not my thing. I choose to maintain a Mediterranean and patriotic fondness for grape juice of a certain sea-cold variety.

Durrell's reputation?? we all have much to do with perpetuating it. The people on this list and the society at large. My High School Students know about Lawrence Durrell, islomania and Bitter Lemons.

There are so many writers. some will last some will not. they all thought they had something big to say. some did and some did not. some were lucky and some were not. what I want to plug into is that some writers have their 'time' and some miss it. Lawrence Durrell finished his quartet and Bitter lemons on the cusp of the 1960s thing, or was it theng; the great bourgeois cultural explosion and all that that. he said in a letter that escapes my immediate memory something like " I shall write upper class porn - so Justine, variations on a theme of love. his time had come people were ready for his kind of prose, his voice and his style found resonance with an awakening world and probably carried through into the 70s. Even in Australia the Quartet was read and known. young avant garde women especially lapped it up. Some on this list will remember the Australian artist Brett Whitley's painting of his girlfriend at the time, in most very miniscule bikini, reading Justine on Bondi Beach??

 alas the quintet was a heavy work (I like it by the way) and sank rather. 

given the way the world has moved is Durrell still relevant? We can help.  but posterity is a hard master. Durrell's individualism and drinking and sexual freedom used to resonate. does it now? as one contributor noted today - Americans put more into marathon preparation than do into literature. nowadays the hero gives up smoking, goes to rehab, renounces meat and starts piously cycling everywhere - which is very annoying to those of us who are trying to get down the road in humungous V8 sedans.

when I was a lad a six pack was something you bought at the grog shop, now it is something you are meant to have in terms of your body structure.....

This is not to take away from Durrell's complexity and significance as writer, not only as a wrestler with ideas but as a painter of magnificent pictures... but in what countrys does he get on reading lists?? where is the international focus?

Also, I wonder what the left wing intelligentsia make of LGD these days????? Do they still control English Curriculums??

Rony, 

writers, culture, beers, football teams, farmland and vinyards sink beneath our wisdom like a stone.

David Whitewine

rom: Rony Alfandary 
Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2011 5:09 PM
To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca 
Subject: [ilds] Durrell and Heritage


Bruce, 
I think that there lies the clue - Durrell's presnence, or absence, from University courses. if Durrell is not taught, he is not sold, his books don't get reprints etc. and he slowly disappears, only to be found in 2nd bookshops. how is a young man of 2011 to stumble across the Quartet? he (she) simply won't and therefore will turn to the books on the shelf. Similar thing has happened to Miller and to Cortazar. i think it is no coincidence. i believe there is something quite upsetting (in a positive sense) in their work and therefore resists popularisation. i am not optimistic. see how great cultures have disappeared from the world, leaving no signs behind , only rumours (and mythologies). 


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