[ilds] The Dark Labyrinth

Meta Cerar meta.cerar at guest.arnes.si
Wed May 4 04:45:00 PDT 2011


I would be most grateful if you could send me this essay on Durrell you're
working on as I'm preparing an article about Durrell to accompany the
publication of Dark Labyrinth. 

Recently I went through both biographies (Bowker and McNiven) again and
through the collection of D's most important interviews, and nowhere, really
nowhere have I found anything on the DL except very brief and occassional
remarks. If it may be right that Durrell was so dismissive because it
reflects his own life and philosophy and there was »too much of LD in DL«, I
am still curious if this attitude on the part of his biographers was due to
Durrell's wish or whether they too thought the novel to be so irrelevant in
relation to other works of D's as to deserve no more than a casual mention.
I'd really like to clarify this, so I would appreciate your opinion as well
as the opinions of other list members. I think Dark Labyrinth is one of
Durrell's best pieces, introducing many of the leitmotifs that appear in the
AQ, so it surely deserves more recognition. Apart from the Roof of the World
chapter I especially like the chapter about Baird's visit to the monastery
and the character of the old abbot. 

I can only hope that Slovenian readers will be more appreciative of the book
than Durrell's biographers.


Best regards,




From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [mailto:ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On
Behalf Of Bruce Redwine
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2011 8:35 PM
To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
Cc: Bruce Redwine
Subject: [ilds] The Dark Labyrinth




I'm currently working on an essay dealing with Durrell's use of pastoral,
which will include aspects of his peculiar "transcendental dimension."
David Green below encapsulates well, as you note, some of those
characteristics.  I too find The Dark Labyrinth an extraordinary work of
fiction.  Why did Durrell dismiss it?  I'd guess because it didn't fit in
which his grandiose plans for making his mark on world literature (hence the
need to produce "big works," "man-size piece[s]," i.e., novels in sets, epic
fashion).  Yes, that's hard.  But, if I may expand on Frank Kermode's
observations (Critical Inquiry 7 (1980), no. 1, 83-101), authors are not
always in full control of their material and don't always know when they're
succeeding or not.  As far as the "transcendental" goes, the escape into
some mythological unknown was there at an early age.  In a letter to Henry
Miller (27 January 1937), Durrell writes, "Rimbaud's solution is always in
the air." The statement is problematic, but I take it to mean that young
Durrell is romanticizing Arthur Rimbaud's escape into the wilds of
Abyssinia, i.e., seeking out some primitive haven not unlike the Roof of the
World in DL.  Of course, what Durrell was probably unaware of is that
Rimbaud was bored stiff with life in remote East Africa.  Read his letters
to chères mère et sœur.  No matter.  The idea of pastoral is more important
than facts.








On Apr 22, 2011, at 2:39 AM, Meta Cerar wrote:

This is beautifully put, thank you for this post. I am so glad that other
Durrell fans also find the transcendental dimension in the Dark Labyrinth
(which I recently translated into Slovenian). I have always wondered why
Durrell himself was so dismissive of this novel? Referred to it as a
potboiler, written to pay for the divorce from Nancy. And why was it hardly
ever mentioned by his biographers, and not even once in the interviews which
were compiled into a book (I think the author was Ingersoll or something

Best regards

Meta Cerar

Ljubljana, Slovenia



From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [mailto:ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On
Behalf Of Denise Tart & David Green
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2011 5:00 AM
To: Durrel
Subject: [ilds] LGD and the Three Pillars of Happiness


LGD was a highly spiritual person and sought enlightenment through a variety
of faiths and beliefs: Gnosticism, the cabbala, Buddhism and of the
transcendental quest for spirit of place . it pervades all his work and no
finer example than that found in Dark Labyrinth and the metaphoric discovery
of the Tibetan upland!  My feeling is that LGD discovered many elements of
spiritual upland when, after the bitter lemons of Cyprus, he went to the
Midi with Claude and lived a plain rustic life at the Mazet, in country side
he liked, with the woman he loved and doing work he enjoyed - writing and
pottering about his farm. The other day Denise said that she heard that the
three pillars of happiness are: someone to love, something to do and
something to look forward to. I only add that the second pillar is stronger
when you like what you do. LGD had all those when with Claude and it was his
best time as a man, lover and writer. Later, he did not have love, found
writing more difficult and had only the bottle to look forward to ...and
female American uni students.




16 William Street
Marrickville NSW 2204
+ 61 2 9564 6165
0412 707 625
www.denisetart.com.au <http://www.denisetart.com.au/> 

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