[ilds] Forster on Durrell

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Mon May 16 09:29:53 PDT 2011

Yesterday a friend told me an anecdote about E. M. Forster.  In the 1960s, I think (the approximate date can be ascertained), Forster would occasionally take dinners at one of the Cambridge colleges (King's? — this can also be ascertained).  This was before Forster went completely "gaga."  My friend sat next to Forster on a couple of occasions.  Lawrence Durrell came up in conversation, and Forster's eyes immediately lit up.  The old man then unleashed a number of unkind words about Durrell.  The gist of the tirade was that Forster thought Durrell a sloppy writer and guilty of deplorable Romanticism in his depiction of Alexandria.  My friend thought Forster had written up his opinion in some essay.  I don't recall reading it.  But I do recall D. J. Enright's essay, "Alexandrian Nights' Entertainments" (in Conspirators and Poets [1966]), which says much the same thing and ends with, "when Durrell is good he is very good, and when he is bad he is horrid."  Enright also went to Cambridge and was associated with F. R. Leavis (who's literary criticism has been recently disparaged), so I guess one can say there was a Cambridge conspiracy against Durrell.

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