[ilds] Modern Fiction, Durrell and the Dark Labyrinth

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Tue May 24 10:37:46 PDT 2011


This is a nice summary of important aspects of the the modern novel.  Others will have their own insights to add.  I was quite happy with my old reading of Durrell's Dark Labyrinth until Charles Sligh politely pointed out that I'd misread the conclusion all along.  I guess Charles is a party of Harold Bloom's "maps of misreading" school (and so am I).  Anyway, my problem with DL is in determining if Durrell really intended what Charles noted.  Is the ending "At Cefalû" really meant to be an "anti-climax?"  I suppose you can make the argument that the "labyrinth" metaphor underlying the novel allows for all kinds of authorial high jinks (confusion, ambiguity, false endings, mock resolutions, etc.), but I find all that dissatisfying, especially since I can't see what it accomplishes besides pointlessness.  Also, I don't consider Durrell a nihilist:  he has a message, and that message undermines the ending as it now stands.  Or so I see it.


On May 24, 2011, at 3:34 AM, Denise Tart & David Green wrote:

> The recent discussions regarding Dark Labyrinth has elicited the following, adapted from my notes on teaching modern fiction
> Two strands rise from the Mythic (symbolic) mode vs. the Realist anecdotal mode. The two strands might also be contrasted as Realism (Physical) vs. Psychological Realism (internal). Realism and Naturalism evoke an external world whereas the Psychological Realism evokes an inner world of consciousness.
> The modern story of Psychological Realism wishes to subvert orderly plot development or an artificial closure or conclusion. the story may appear to be told casually by an unreliable narrator, focuses on seemingly ordinary incidents, projecting them with immediacy and telling details as the subjective experience is filtered through a mediating consciousness. This is the essence of Psychological Realism. There may be a sense of a slice of life, an anti climax, an insight, but not an heroic stand or change in character. Narrative suspense exists, but is manipulated to lead to an anti-climax or no climax at all.
> Such an approach can lead to stories being highly compresses and the real tale may even be suppressed beneath the surface. the teller may ironically misinterpret their experience and miss the point whereas the reader sees it.
> I could not but be struck by how well applies to LGD in general and the Dark Labyrinth in particular.
> David
> 16 William Street
> Marrickville NSW 2204
> + 61 2 9564 6165
> 0412 707 625
> www.denisetart.com.au

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