[ilds] Mention of the Alexandria Quartet in an Interesting and Controversial New Book

Marc Piel marc at marcpiel.fr
Mon Jun 2 09:39:14 PDT 2014

Sorry Bruce,
but I don't agree with the word "tendencies"; 
understanding or being aware of a sexual 
atmosphere is something different!
B.R. Marc

Le 02/06/14 17:41, Bruce Redwine a écrit :
> Billy, good point about DHL, but his work 
> occasionally dips into homoeroticism.  Read 
> Lawrence's /Women in Love/ (1920) and look 
> closely at the friendship between Rupert Burkin 
> and Gerald Crich, in particularly the chapter 
> titled "Gladitorial."  Ken Russell's 1969 film 
> brings out the sexuality of that scene quite 
> well.  I seem to recall (but may be wrong) that 
> Oliver Reed, who played Crich, could only do the 
> scene drunk --- it was that bold (for its day, 
> anyway).  I would say Lawrence had "tendencies."
> Bruce
> On Jun 1, 2014, at 5:39 PM, William Apt 
> <billyapt at gmail.com <mailto:billyapt at gmail.com>> 
> wrote:
>> Bruce:
>> DH Lawrence observed that deep and intense 
>> friendships between heterosexual men are not 
>> much different than erotic relationships - only 
>> the physical aspect is missing. Perhaps it's as 
>> simple as that. And remember: LD was a big fan 
>> of DH Lawrence.
>> All the best as always,
>> Billy
>> Attorney at Law
>> 812 San Antonio St, Ste 401
>> Austin TX 78701
>> 512/708-8300
>> 512/708-8011 FAX
>> On Jun 1, 2014, at 12:28 PM, Bruce Redwine 
>> <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net 
>> <mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>> wrote:
>>> Billy,
>>> Thanks for the response and encouragement. 
>>>  Let me answer your questions.  Michael Haag 
>>> told me he /didn't/ think Durrell was gay.  I 
>>> assume he would also say no to repressed 
>>> homosexuality.  My guess is that Ian MacNiven 
>>> would agree with Haag on both counts.  I have 
>>> no idea what Eve Cohen thought.  Sappho Jane 
>>> did not mention her father having homosexual 
>>> tendencies, repressed or not, in the excerpts 
>>> of her diaries and letters published in /Granta./
>>> Joseph A. Boone's article is "Mappings of Male 
>>> Desire in Durrell's /Alexandria Quartet,"/ 
>>> /South Atlantic Quarterly/ 88 (1989), 73-106. 
>>>  It's good.  James corrected me on attributing 
>>> repressed homosexuality to Boone's argument. 
>>>  He's right.  My memory was faulty.  Boone 
>>> doesn't explicitly say that --- he sticks to 
>>> the text --- but I think this is quibbling. 
>>>  Boone talks about a strange relationship 
>>> between Durrell and Miller, especially as it 
>>> began in 1935 (p. 75), and the implications of 
>>> the sexual metaphor, "man-size piece."  He 
>>> should have gone further.  I think what we 
>>> have going on here is something similar to the 
>>> culture of homosexuality in Classical Greece 
>>> --- the older male /(erastes)/ taking on a 
>>> younger male /(eromenos)/ as his 
>>> partner/beloved.  Initially Miller is the 
>>> dominant partner, later the roles reverse. 
>>>  The Greek terms are Kenneth Dover's in his 
>>> /Greek Homosexuality/ (1978).  I am a little 
>>> surprised Boone doesn't make the analogy. 
>>>  Recall that Durrell's pseudonym in /Panic 
>>> Spring/ (1937) is Charles Norden, that his 
>>> boat on Corfu is the Norden, and that Van 
>>> Norden is Miler's friend in /Tropic of Cancer./
>>> /
>>> /
>>> This topic of Durrell's 
>>> sexuality/homosexuality has been discussed 
>>> before on the List.  Undoubtedly some are 
>>> bored by it.  For more detail, I refer you to 
>>> the post:  Miller's "Numinous Cock" v. 
>>> Durrell's "Man-size Piece" (24 March 2011). 
>>>  The exchange was largely between James and 
>>> myself.  Neither of us have changed our 
>>> positions.  Here's my conclusion in 2011:
>>> Am I arguing that Durrell and Miller had a 
>>> homosexual relationship?  No.  Am I arguing 
>>> that Durrell was in fact homosexual?  No.  I 
>>> am pointing out certain patterns in their 
>>> relationship, which suggest an erotic 
>>> involvement or attachment. This homoerotic 
>>> affinity need not have been consummated to be 
>>> valid.  I am also suggesting the obvious that 
>>> LGD had a very complex personality and that 
>>> any attempt to characterize him as, say, 
>>> utterly and robustly heterosexual is trite and 
>>> untrue.  In a personal communication, Dr. 
>>> Anthony Durrell, a practicing psychiatrist, 
>>> has compared LGD's personality to an onion 
>>> skin of many layers, and David Green has aptly 
>>> noted that the photograph of Durrell as a 
>>> French onion seller fits Dr. Durrell's analogy 
>>> (see Gordon Bowker, /Through the Dark 
>>> Labyrinth: A Biography of Lawrence 
>>> Durrell,/ London 1997:  fig. of Durrell in 
>>> London, 1985).  I agree with both of them.
>>> Bruce
>>> On May 31, 2014, at 3:36 PM, William Apt 
>>> <billyapt at gmail.com 
>>> <mailto:billyapt at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>>> Well argued, my friend! But don't people tend 
>>>> to gravitate to their own kind? I don't 
>>>> recall there being a great number of 
>>>> homosexuals in LD's inner circle. In fact 
>>>> most were quite straight and anything but 
>>>> asexual. Contrast this with the highly 
>>>> closeted Jack Kerouac, almost all of whose 
>>>> inner circle were gay, despite his life long 
>>>> cultivation of a solid heterosexual public 
>>>> image.
>>>> I'm curious what others, who knew LD, have to 
>>>> say? MacNiven, for example?  What about Haag, 
>>>> having known Eve Cohen so well?
>>>> Finally, LD got involved with some beautiful, 
>>>> sexy women, and had as friends others. If he 
>>>> was gay, he certainly had a great 
>>>> heterosexual picker!
>>>> Finally, trying to decide if LD was gay based 
>>>> only on highly tenuous circumstantial 
>>>> evidence will be as difficult as the attempt 
>>>> to determine if TE Lawrence was gay or just a 
>>>> severely repressed asexual personality. Good 
>>>> luck!
>>>> Billy
>>>> Attorney at Law
>>>> 812 San Antonio St, Ste 401
>>>> Austin TX 78701
>>>> 512/708-8300
>>>> 512/708-8011 FAX
>>>> On May 31, 2014, at 2:10 PM, Bruce Redwine 
>>>> <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net 
>>>> <mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>> wrote:
>>>>> Billy, thanks for the response.  Any 
>>>>> evidence for Durrell's repressed 
>>>>> homosexuality?  No, certainly none that 
>>>>> would satisfy a court of law.  But to be 
>>>>> argumentative, MacNiven bases his biography 
>>>>> in part on what Durrell told him, and would 
>>>>> you expect Lawrence Durrell to admit 
>>>>> homosexual tendencies, especially given the 
>>>>> opprobrium attached to such a confession? 
>>>>>  (By the way, I don't mean to disparage 
>>>>> MacNiven's tremendous work --- I have the 
>>>>> greatest respect for what he accomplished.) 
>>>>>  My evidence is circumstantial and largely 
>>>>> based on Durrell's writings and the 
>>>>> prominence of homosexuality as a topic of 
>>>>> treatment.  As D. H. Lawrence says, "Never 
>>>>> trust the artist.  Trust the tale."  I'm 
>>>>> much in line with what Boone writes.  Here, 
>>>>> of course, the big objection is what 
>>>>> literary critics are fond of making --- 
>>>>> namely, don't confuse the author with his or 
>>>>> her writings!  There's some validity to 
>>>>> this, but I don't always buy the objection 
>>>>> and attribute it to the prejudices of New 
>>>>> Criticism, whose ideas still linger and 
>>>>> influence.  So, I'm saying, as Boone seems 
>>>>> to suggest, let's look at Durrell's writings 
>>>>> and his obsessions and see where all that 
>>>>> leads us.  Finally, remember the lesson of 
>>>>> Thomas Mann, author of /Death in Venice./ 
>>>>>  For a long time, Mann's treatment of 
>>>>> homosexuality was analyzed as a literary 
>>>>> trope (much as Durrell's is).  After all, 
>>>>> Mann was an upright German, married with a 
>>>>> large family, and no inkling of 
>>>>> homosexuality.  But as Anthony Heilbut shows 
>>>>> in his biography, /Thomas Mann:  Eros and 
>>>>> Literature/ (1996), Mann had repressed 
>>>>> homosexual tendencies. /Death in Venice/ and 
>>>>> Gustav von Aschenbach's infatuation with the 
>>>>> boy Tadzio is based on Mann's own personal 
>>>>> experience.  I see something similar going 
>>>>> on with Durrell.
>>>>> Bruce
>>>>> On May 31, 2014, at 11:26 AM, William Apt 
>>>>> <billyapt at gmail.com 
>>>>> <mailto:billyapt at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>>>>> Bruce:
>>>>>> I seem to recall that, according to 
>>>>>> MacNiven's bio, when LD was confronted with 
>>>>>> the opportunity for homoerotic encounters 
>>>>>> while in prep school in England, he 
>>>>>> realized he was unstimulated by boys. That 
>>>>>> is typically the hallmark of a heterosexual 
>>>>>> mindset. Do you have any evidence other 
>>>>>> than LD's occasional bad behavior toward 
>>>>>> women that might otherwise support your 
>>>>>> theory?
>>>>>> Billy
>>>>>> Attorney at Law
>>>>>> 812 San Antonio St, Ste 401
>>>>>> Austin TX 78701
>>>>>> 512/708-8300
>>>>>> 512/708-8011 FAX
>>>>>> On May 31, 2014, at 10:40 AM, Bruce Redwine 
>>>>>> <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net 
>>>>>> <mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>> wrote:
>>>>>>> Merrianne,
>>>>>>> Thanks.  Some years ago Boone wrote a 
>>>>>>> provocative article on homosexuality in 
>>>>>>> the Quartet.  It begins by discussing 
>>>>>>> Durrell's reference to Tropic of Cancer as 
>>>>>>> a "man-size piece of work" in his famous 
>>>>>>> introductory letter to Miller.  Boone took 
>>>>>>> this as an example of Durrell's repressed 
>>>>>>> homosexuality, if I recall correctly. 
>>>>>>>  That is roughly equivalent to "you've 
>>>>>>> shown me yours, now I'll show you mine." 
>>>>>>>  Years ago I pursued this line of argument 
>>>>>>> on the ILDS List and was roundly scoffed 
>>>>>>> at.  "Durrell is gay!  Nonsense!" 
>>>>>>>  Personally I think he was a repressed 
>>>>>>> homosexual, which might account for some 
>>>>>>> of his strange and violent behavior.  The 
>>>>>>> guy was pretty screwed up.  Perhaps we can 
>>>>>>> resume this discussion.
>>>>>>> Bruce
>>>>>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>>>>> On May 31, 2014, at 6:31 AM, "Merrianne" 
>>>>>>> <timlot at comcast.net 
>>>>>>> <mailto:timlot at comcast.net>> wrote:
>>>>>>>> Before attending the OMG conference in 
>>>>>>>> Vancouver, I purchased a recently 
>>>>>>>> published book --/The Homoerotics of 
>>>>>>>> Orientalism/by Joseph Allen Boone, 
>>>>>>>> published by Columbia University Press. 
>>>>>>>> The book is generating some controversy. 
>>>>>>>> Having spent many years researching 19^th 
>>>>>>>> century orientalist art, I am finding 
>>>>>>>> this book very interesting, but not your 
>>>>>>>> usual summer read. It weaves together 
>>>>>>>> many diverse threads -- art, literature, 
>>>>>>>> gender, sexuality, colonialism, mass 
>>>>>>>> marketing, etc., and introduces some 
>>>>>>>> unique analysis. Illustrations range from 
>>>>>>>> traditional Ingres nudes to Norman Mailer 
>>>>>>>> as a pharaoh on the cover of New York 
>>>>>>>> magazine.
>>>>>>>> Included in the chapter "Epic Ambitions 
>>>>>>>> and Epicurean Appetites" is a subchapter 
>>>>>>>> titled "The Return of the Repressed in 
>>>>>>>> Durrell's Alexandria Quartet" that 
>>>>>>>> focuses on the depiction of Darley. 
>>>>>>>> Footnote 70 for this chapter cites James 
>>>>>>>> Gifford's "The Frontiers of Love: Sexual 
>>>>>>>> and Territorial Ambiguity in Lawrence 
>>>>>>>> Durrell's Monsieur."
>>>>>>>> Bottom line -- this is a book that some 
>>>>>>>> of you might want to peruse. For me, it 
>>>>>>>> provides new insight into the many 
>>>>>>>> "textbook" images of orientalism I have 
>>>>>>>> enjoyed over the years, and introduces me 
>>>>>>>> to many "new" contemporary photographs, 
>>>>>>>> paintings, and ideas.
>>>>>>>> Best,
>>>>>>>> Merrianne Timko
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