[ilds] A Long Life That Peaks Quite Young (NYT)

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Sat Feb 12 12:50:13 PST 2011

On 2/12/11 3:02 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:

>         I don't think of "obscurity" as a bad thing.  Authors probably
>         do, however.  Some part of LD seemed to long for it.
>          Mountolive Sr. was happy in his Indian or Ceylonese monastery
>         translating Pali texts, and Durrell's gravesite is somewhat
>         obscure, no?

        /The Alexandria Quartet/
        "The Critics"
        /A Smile in the Mind's Eye/
        /The Avignon Quintet /

Each of those works might be taken as a Durrellian meditation on the 
vagaries of Fame, Obscurity, and the Posthumous Career of the Author.

As I read the works listed above, I sometimes fancy that Durrell found 
his way forward by imagining he was already finished with his life and 
his life's work.  Thus the coy masks -- Pursewarden, Byron, Shakespeare, 
Blanford, Sutcliff, &c.

Both early and late in his career, Durrell seems to have thought of 
authorship as a posthumous act.  For example, in /The Black Book/, 
Durrell had already adopted the mask of the /archimimus/ -- the 
dissolute and flamboyant clown who followed along behind the funeral 
procession, making a merry parody of the deceased's dress, manners, and 
speech.  Thus the pattern of Durrell's dual narrators:  Lawrence Lucifer 
following Death Gregory, Darley following Arnauti & Pursewarden, &c. 
&c.   Also cf. the sequence of "dead places" considered in retrospect -- 
England, from Corfu; Corfu, from Alexandria; Alexandria, from an island; 
&c. &c.

It is curious that, in certain cases, the deceased characters continue 
to run witty circles around the survivors, with dead men parodying 
living.  That mockery may or may not be an allegory for the mindful 
reader of Lawrence Durrell.

The rest is silence.


Charles L. Sligh
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
charles-sligh at utc.edu

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