[ilds] Pastoral Literature

James Gifford james.d.gifford at gmail.com
Sun Mar 6 09:11:53 PST 2011

I almost think this is the point -- one isn't supposed to come back to 
the city...  I've always like the tension in the epigrams to Justine 
between "talk" and "desire," one leading to the island to writing and 
the other to the noose.  I think that plays out across the Quartet as a 
whole as well: the island is the place of writing (talk) and 
subjectivity while the city is the place where subjectivity is lost and 
everyone becomes the object of the city's will or their own desires.

Is the same thing happening in /The Black Book/, /Panic Spring/, 
/Cefalu/, /Monsieur/, and so forth?  I have a hunch it is.  We get the 
same thing with time as well -- the island has rural time measured in 
cycles or cigarettes while the city is on a teleological path to war, 
like in the opening scenes of /Clea/.

I think he's fairly clear in using the Classical sources for the idea, 
but there's no return to the city or to city man that can go well.  The 
life of the village seems more creative with the city as a burst of 
libidinal energy best enjoyed but not lived in.


On 06/03/11 8:04 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
> Yes. And how does Lawrence Durrell use the Classical/Renaissance
> convention of pastoral? How does he rework it? What's new about his
> usage? He goes to his various islands and retreats, real and fictional,
> in search of otium, but he does not come back "cured and happy."
> Bruce
> On Mar 5, 2011, at 12:53 PM, William Godshalk wrote:
>> Yes, and in the Renaissance, the pastoral world is in contrast to the
>> urban world. Characters from the city or the court go into the
>> pastoral world to seek and to find redemption, love, otium. It's a
>> world of artistic development. After finding what they were looking
>> for, they can go back to the city or court -- cured and happy.
>> Consider Shakespeare's /As You Like It /with its forest of Arden.
>> On Fri, Mar 4, 2011 at 4:48 PM, Denise Tart & David Green
>> <dtart at bigpond.net.au <mailto:dtart at bigpond.net.au>> wrote:
>>     Bruce, I like the idea of the island books being a kind of modern
>>     pastoral. I can see it: the poet and his friend amidst a rustic
>>     background discussing the great issues (Prospero's Cell
>>     particularly) and the philosophical peasants in place of the
>>     shepherds - 'where the shepherd is the artist and the goats make
>>     music with the wind' to quote RW Hedges. certainly a fair number
>>     of Larry's beloved Elizabethans wrote pastorals and this could
>>     have influenced him very much. Perhaps this explains the timeless
>>     unreality of Prospero's Cell - indeed much of Durrell's writing.
>>     To be honest the man is his own genre.
>>     David White - Burgundy
>>     16 William Street
>>     Marrickville NSW 2204
>>     Terra Australis Incognito
>>     + 61 2 9564 6165
>>     0412 707 625
>>     www.denisetart.com.au <http://www.denisetart.com.au/>
>>     _______________________________________________
>> --
>> W. L. Godshalk *
>> Department of English * * *
>> University of Cincinnati * stellar disorder *
>> OH 45221-0069 * * *
>> godshawl at ucmail.uc.edu <mailto:godshawl at ucmail.uc.edu>
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