[ilds] Why no "Collected Stories"?

James Gifford james.d.gifford at gmail.com
Sun Feb 13 10:28:09 PST 2011

I still think "Asylum in the Snow" is a very fine story, but Durrell 
just never produced sufficient volume.  Also, I think his style and 
penchant for narrative recurrence really only works in longer works or 
compressed in poetry.  I think the short story genre was a challenge for 
his, hence his continual excerpts from larger texts for short story bits 
to appear in magazines.

Of course, all of Antrobus is short stories.  A really good reading of 
those pieces is yet to appear...


On 12/02/11 2:09 PM, William Godshalk wrote:
> Charles mentions in passing a certain cucumber. I reckon this is a vague
> reference to the Durrellian cucumber. Well, maybe not that vague.
> Bill
> On Sat, Feb 12, 2011 at 8:22 AM, Bruce Redwine
> <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net <mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>> wrote:
>     Ken,
>     Important questions.  My guess is that Durrell wrote the short
>     pieces to make money.  Those he claimed to turn out quickly and
>     without much thought.  His real energy went into poetry and the
>     major fiction, which took time and research.  His travel literature
>     probably falls into the former category, roughly.  This begs the
>     question why he didn't treat seriously short fiction, as some
>     authors do (here I'm thinking of William Trevor in particular).
>       Again, I'm guessing, but poetry and big prose seem to have
>     satisfied different psychological needs.  I'd argue he used poetry
>     as some kind of catharsis, a way to work through personal problems,
>     exposed them, but at the same time keep them secret (hence the
>     cryptic nature of the poetry).  The major fiction, on the other
>     hand, satisfied, in part, his literary ambitions to turn out works
>     of "size," i.e., to develop his own philosophy, mythology, world,
>     /Weltanshauung/ — whatever you want to call it.
>     Bruce
>     On Feb 11, 2011, at 4:18 PM, Ken Gammage wrote:
>>     I really enjoyed Durrell's pieces from Holiday magazine collected
>>     in Spirit of Place. Wondering about the short stories (like
>>     "Judith," the source material for the 1966 movie.) Did Durrell not
>>     write many stories, or is there a more interesting explanation?
>>     -- Ken
>>     -----Original Message-----
>>     From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca
>>     <mailto:ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca>
>>     [mailto:ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca
>>     <mailto:ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca>] On Behalf Of Marc Piel
>>     Sent: Friday, February 11, 2011 3:01 PM
>>     To: Charles-Sligh at utc.edu <mailto:Charles-Sligh at utc.edu>;
>>     ilds at lists.uvic.ca <mailto:ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
>>     Subject: Re: [ilds] White Eagles Over Serbia
>>     Very well spoken Charles.
>>     I would just like to point out to Richard Pine
>>     that "Judith" was actually published in English
>>     and in French not to mention the film.
>>     B.R. Marc
>>     Le 11/02/11 19:38, Charles Sligh a écrit :
>>>      On 2/11/11 11:24 AM, Richard Pine wrote:
>>>>            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 think that this point chimes with what I was trying to say about
>>>     Durrell's eclectic output creating eclectic audiences, Richard.
>>>     Publishers prefer to market authors in reasonably discrete
>>>     categories or
>>>     pigeonholes. Whether they admit it or not, literary historians and
>>>     critics tend to work in something of the same way. As Walter
>>>     Pater told
>>>     his students, "our failure is to form habits," stereotyping the
>>>     world so
>>>     we can no longer discriminate the rarities right in front of our
>>>     eyes.
>>>     When T. S. Eliot encouraged Durrell to determine once and for all
>>>     whether he was a "poet" or a "novelist," he was thinking in terms
>>>     of a
>>>     conscientious editor and in terms of the received 'wisdom' among
>>>     poets
>>>     -- i.e., that spending energy in too many forms and genres would
>>>     lead a
>>>     young writer to dissolution of poetic energy. That advice may seem
>>>     quaint and moralizing in retrospect, ringing weirdly like
>>>     Goethe's idea
>>>     of the writer saving, not spending, the fund of his creative seed.
>>>     Miller's late 1930s attempt to discipline Durrell to focus on
>>>     "Lawrence
>>>     Durrell" rather than the "schizophrenic" Durrell/Norden may be
>>>     similar.
>>>     /Contra/ TSE and HM, I think that we are extremely fortunate that
>>>     Lawrence Durrell followed his own tack, either by inclination or
>>>     necessity. In terms of genre and style, Durrell's writings are
>>>     decidedly
>>>     eclectic, defying the stereotypical, disciplining efforts of mentors,
>>>     mass marketers, and historians. When it comes to "labeling" and
>>>     "categorizing," the works of Joyce and Woolf and Faulkner and
>>>     _______(fill in the blank here with the name of most any other
>>>     canonical
>>>     writer of the 20th Century) ______ give us the appearance of known,
>>>     comfortable, containable quantities.
>>>     Indeed, in terms of scope, genre, and diversity, the storyline of
>>>     James
>>>     Joyce's body of published works looks conceptually simple when set on
>>>     the shelf next to the storyline of Lawrence Durrell's body of
>>>     published
>>>     works. And that is an important point. The narrative of Joyce's
>>>     career
>>>     -- running from /Dubliners/ to /A Portrait of the Artist as a Young
>>>     Man///, /Ulysses/, and /Finnegans Wake/ -- did in fact become the
>>>     template for evaluating and narrating the careers of subsequent
>>>     ambitious writers of the 20th Century. (Never mind the fact that
>>>     /Chamber Music/, /Exiles/, &c. tend to be smoothed out as
>>>     intermediary
>>>     or aberrations.) Cf. the silly post-1952 questions about why
>>>     Ellison was
>>>     unable to follow up on /Invisible Man/. As if any follow-up was
>>>     necessary, artistically or morally! Critics are most intolerant of
>>>     differently-shaped careers or eclecticism.
>>>     I would leave it to be tested by others whether or not this idea of
>>>     eclecticism holds true in any significant way for the fuller span of
>>>     Durrell's published works. But I suspect that it does hold true.
>>>     And I
>>>     would go further, suggesting that this broad eclecticism of genre and
>>>     form across the published works might have a corollary in terms
>>>     of the
>>>     characteristic details that we find /within/ each of the particular
>>>     works//. For example, consider the eclecticism and heterogeneity of
>>>     prose style, narrative form, and generic mode that we find within
>>>     /Prospero's Cell/ or /The Alexandria Quartet/. What an abundance
>>>     we find
>>>     packed away within each of those!
>>>     To the best of my ability, I try to be humble and accept the
>>>     writings of
>>>     Lawrence Durrell on their own terms. I can certainly see their strong
>>>     differences from the more disciplined, selective output of, say, the
>>>     writings of James Joyce. And I think that those peculiar
>>>     differences may
>>>     be essential to an understanding of what Durrell achieves, the
>>>     particular pleasures that his writing offers to us. But I
>>>     certainly do
>>>     not think that Durrell is in any way "off-track," or somehow
>>>     "lacking,"
>>>     just because he does not fit in with the vagaries of the book
>>>     publishing
>>>     world or some absurdly projected template of "the standard career
>>>     of the
>>>     Modernist" &c.
>>>     Like Swift's Projectors in the Academy, the Fault rests with us, not
>>>     with the Cucumber from which we attempt to extract Sunbeams.
>>>     C&c.
>>>     --
>>>     ********************************************
>>>     Charles L. Sligh
>>>     Assistant Professor
>>>     Department of English
>>>     University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
>>>     charles-sligh at utc.edu <mailto:charles-sligh at utc.edu>
>>>     ********************************************
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