[ilds] The Dark Labyrinth

Marc Piel marc at marcpiel.fr
Thu May 5 16:56:10 PDT 2011

And do you call it critical when you announce 
"..... nor do many participants on the ILDS 
What  quantifiable evidence do you have of this????

... or should we all sit around and say "bravo" 
Bruce ( BB) , non of us could have critically 
thought that out!

I have been at loggerheads with you in the past 
for just this sort of unsupported affirmations, 
that you try to foist on the list.


Le 05/05/11 19:23, Bruce Redwine a écrit :
> "Free of jargon, free of extra-textual 
> considerations, free of critical prejudice" — 
> now what does all that sound and fury mean?  I 
> guess it means that all discussion should end, 
> and we should all sit around the campfire and 
> sing the praises of LGD and say how much we 
> enjoy everything he writes.  Not much of a 
> critical discussion, in my opinion.
> Bruce
> On May 5, 2011, at 9:17 AM, Richard Pine wrote:
>> I think we should educate ourselves out of the 
>> literary snobbism in which most of us have been 
>> trained - I mean the Leavisite idea of a 
>> 'canon' or 'tradition' into which a writer 
>> either does or does not 'fit'. (Leavis is said 
>> to have remarked of LD 'not one of us'. Both 
>> Leavises suffered, in my opinion, from an 
>> appalling - in the strict Adlerian sense - 
>> inferiority complex. Reading QD Leavis's 
>> 'Fiction and the Reading Public' one could be 
>> forgiven for wondering how she could have 
>> possibly expressed such banal, untenable 
>> opinions about major authors of whom she did 
>> not approve.)
>> We have to remember that LD very early on tried 
>> to become 2 writers - LD and 'Charles Norden' 
>> and that H Miller put the lid on that idea. But 
>> he did go forward writing one 'real' (as he 
>> called it) book followed by one lighter book. 
>> He himself described 'Sicilian Carousel' to me 
>> as 'a makeweight' while waiting for the 
>> successor to Monsieur.
>> Eliot didn't dismiss DL: he said there was too 
>> much Durrell for a Norden, and not enough 
>> Durrell for a Durrell. If you elide Norden, the 
>> problem goes away.
>> Look at the chronology: heavy/light/heavy/light 
>> all the way through. BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT 
>> is the Leavises et al who have conditioned us 
>> to think that way. What is it? It's what LD 
>> himself described as 'British critics suffering 
>> from penis envy'. i.e. we spend so much energy 
>> lauding the 'real' books that we think it 
>> inferior of us as lit crits to also acknowledge 
>> the in-between stuff, and yet we secretly want 
>> to admire it. Somehow, we feel guilty at 
>> admitting that 'DL' or 'White Eagles' excites 
>> us, because we have been trained to act as 
>> snobs. LD himself said that one would seldom 
>> meet a reader who admits to enjoying Proust AND 
>> Wodehouse. But HE DID and so do I and I HAVE NO 
>> PATIENCE with the school of thought which 
>> pretends that we have to make a special case 
>> for DL or White Eagles or Antrobus. We DON'T. 
>> Just ENJOY! Or is that impossible for a 
>> po-faced critic? I'm afraid it is, in most 
>> cases. And then there are those toilet-trained 
>> in 'theory' who can't make up their minds about 
>> anything they've read until they have decided 
>> what Derrida might have thought. They don't 
>> deserve to be critics at all, because they 
>> haven't got a mind of their own, not even a 
>> Leavisite one. Urrrgh
>> So could we please stop agonising about whether 
>> DL is a great book or even an important book, 
>> and just read the damn thing for what it is 
>> worth - free of jargon, free of extra-textual 
>> considerations, free of critical prejudice?
>> RP
>> --------------------------------------------------
>> *From:*Meta Cerar <meta.cerar at guest.arnes.si 
>> <mailto:meta.cerar at guest.arnes.si>>
>> *To:*ilds at lists.uvic.ca <mailto:ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
>> *Sent:*Wed, May 4, 2011 2:45:00 PM
>> *Subject:*Re: [ilds] The Dark Labyrinth
>> Bruce,
>> 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,
>> Meta
>> --------------------------------------------------
>> *From:*ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca 
>> <mailto: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 <mailto:ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
>> *Cc:*Bruce Redwine
>> *Subject:*[ilds] The Dark Labyrinth
>> Meta,
>> 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.
>> Bruce
>> 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 similar)?
>> Best regards
>> Meta Cerar
>> Ljubljana, Slovenia
>> --------------------------------------------------
>> *From:*ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca 
>> <mailto: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.
>> David
>> 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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