[ilds] White Eagles Over Serbia

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sat Feb 12 08:39:34 PST 2011


RP,

Either you neither read nor write carefully, or your memory is faulty.  One, I did not "disparage" White Eagles over Serbia, a book I rather like for the reason stated in the same message under question.  Two, if you want to quibble about my use of "Durrellians," then you should be very careful when you use the term and not illustrate what you're quibbling about.


BR



On Feb 12, 2011, at 12:41 AM, Richard Pine wrote:

> It was Bruce who used the catch-all term 'Durrellians' when disparaging 'White Eagles'. It was I who objected to this as a 'label'. Please be accurate.
> I have written books which I now know are not up to my best - in fact my first book on LD was not at all good and I hope no-one reads it today - and I would be very anxious that my second-best work would not be boosted in the opinion of others, or considered to be equal to my best.
> Yes, consider the work as a whole - after all, the same hand held the same pen, or bashed the same typewriter keys - but bear in mind that, after writing, so intensely, the Quartet, for example, the mental and emotional energy required for a similar undertaking may not be available, whereas a professional writermust keep moving on, if necessary with work which s/he knows to be not of the very best. Many writers, after a tour de force such as the Quartet, would turn to writing in a different genre, for example Iain Banks and Iain M Banks.
> RP
> 
> From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Cc: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> Sent: Fri, February 11, 2011 9:18:52 PM
> Subject: Re: [ilds] White Eagles Over Serbia
> 
> Thanks for the long explanation.  When it comes to making blunt statements, however, I defer to your expertise in the area.   In this regard, you should qualify your usage of"Durrellians" — it's misleading and equally "astonishingly blunt."  That aside, I wouldn't rely on what Durrell said about his "potboilers," because authors aren't always the best commentators on their own works, not everything they do is within their conscious control.  This is not my idea.  As I said before, the late Frank Kermode makes this point quite effectively in "Secrets and Narrative Sequence" (Critical Inquiry 7, no. 1 [1980]).  So, LD disparages Sicilian Carousel (1976) as a "makeweight," but I think it is one of his most interesting and informative works — from the standpoint of recurrent themes, characterizations, humor, inventiveness, and above all his delightful prose.  The following is a provisional statement, but it may be that he's at his best when he feels least obligated to be at his best.  I also think it a mistake to take a "two-level" approach to Durrell's writings and poetry.  They should be treated as a whole, just as I consider the man a whole, so I would discuss Sicilian Carousel with the same seriousness as discussing the heavyweights.  I'm not making an evaluative statement about the pecking order of Durrell's oeuvre.  I'm talking about how individual works relate to the man and his concerns.
> 
> 
> BR
> 
> 
> 
> On Feb 11, 2011, at 8:24 AM, Richard Pine wrote:
> 
>> It was an astonishingly blunt statement. If you don't like that book, say so but don't label all other 'Durellians' with a dislike they don't share. My personal least-liked of LD is 'Sicilian Carousel', which he admitted to me was 'a makeweight while I'm waiting for the cistern to fill up with the successor to Monsieur', but I wouldn't dismiss it out-of-hand, not least because some have spoken highly of it in this column.
>> The reason why 'White Eagles' or, for that matter, 'Dark Labyrinth', 'Pope Joan', 'Antrobus', 'Judith' (altho the latter hasn't yet been published, but is discussed in my 'Mindscape') etc etc, don't come up for serious discussion is, I think, due a reluctance on the part of 'Durrellians' to acknowledge that there was a LD and a 'Charles Norden', the latter of whom H Miller shamed LD into discarding as a nom-de-plume for his 'minor mythologies' - the second-string potboilers, 'makeweights', etc. that came in between the major works.
>> I've tried to make the case for this two-level activity in what I've written about LD, and am preparing to do so again. One wouldn't necessarily discuss these works with the same 'seriousness' that one applies to the Quartet, Tunc/Nunquam or the Quintet, but one discusses them nonetheless. 
>> RP
>> 
>> From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
>> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>> Cc: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
>> Sent: Fri, February 11, 2011 3:48:53 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ilds] White Eagles Over Serbia
>> 
>> I made the absurd statement and am glad to know I was wrong with respect to at least one "Durrellian."  As to the rest of the group, I ask why White Eaglesrarely, if ever, comes up for serious discussion on this list.  I think it should.
>> 
>> 
>> Bruce
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> On Feb 11, 2011, at 5:02 AM, Richard Pine wrote:
>> 
>>> I've accidentally deleted a message (I can't recall from whom) which (I think) 
>>> suggests that 'White Eagles over Serbia' does not appeal to Durrellians. This, 
>>> in my opinion, is an absurd statement. I greatly enjoy reading and re-reading 
>>> White Eagles, and I think I can claim to be a Durrellian!
>>> Richard Pine
>> 
> 
> 
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