[ilds] Wittgenstein

James Gifford james.d.gifford at gmail.com
Mon Mar 14 10:22:44 PDT 2011

I'm not sure if LD had any Wittgenstein in his various libraries, but 
I'll check my files once I'm back home.

That said, I don't think you'd need Wittgenstein to make this particular 
point.  There are plenty of ways to access it.  I personally am of the 
mind that Durrell presents selfhood as suspicious yet a necessary 
illusion.  The self is, in Nietzsche's sense, hard to find, which isn't 
quite the same thing as saying it doesn't exist -- for LD, it's also 
quite clearly subject to change, revision, and may be impossible for the 
subject to actually locate or identify with any clarity.  However, and 
perhaps this relates to my earlier comments on anarchism and Miller's 
views on it, I don't think it's possible to align Durrell with the 
anti-humanist vision of some forms of Marxism we might find in 
Althusser.  Durrell's subjects don't appear to be created from the 
social conditions of production that call subjectivity into existence...

FWIW, I'm always intrigued by what happens to selfhood or subjectivity 
when Durrell's characters cross borders, discover a new sexual passion, 
or are recast by different narrative voices.  Think, for instance, of 
Bruce's identity in /Monsieur/, especially in the "Macabru" chapter.

What of selfhood when characters "become members of one another" in the 
Quintet?  Hmmm.


On 14/03/11 10:05 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
> Is there any evidence that suggests LGD had read or was familiar with
> the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)? I cannot find any in
> the Bowker (1997) or MacNiven (1998) biographies, nor in /The
> Durrell-Miller Letters/ (1988). I doubt that Durrell dabbled in
> Wittgenstein, although how Pursewarden got his first name is an
> interesting question, which is probably just a coincidence.
> Wittgenstein, however, was committed to the idea, in the words of Hans
> Sluga, "that there is no such thing as the self" (see "'Whose house is
> that?': Wittgenstein on the Self" in /The Cambridge Companion to
> Wittgenstein/ [1996], p. 350). This is a big topic in philosophy, and
> the ideas of a "philosophical self" and an "everyday self" are not the
> same. Wittgenstein dealt with the former, Durrell with the latter (I
> tend to believe — but maybe not).
> Bruce
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