[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 
list-serve".
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.

Marc

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 
>> WE HAVE TO REGARD THE 'LIGHT' AS INFERIOR. It 
>> 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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