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

William Apt billyapt at gmail.com
Mon Jun 2 10:11:51 PDT 2014


Bruce:

I don't doubt as true what you say, but DHL's point should be well taken
objectively without regard to his own tendencies.  His observation
is profound and, I believe, quite accurate. Applied to LD: his
relationships with male friends - like Miller - likely had the sort of
depth, intensity and love that from the outside might be mistaken for,
but was not, homosexual.

BIlly

On Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 10:41 AM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
wrote:

> 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> 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
>
> WILLIAM APT
> 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>
> 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> 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
>
> WILLIAM APT
> 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>
> 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> 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
>
> WILLIAM APT
> 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>
> 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> 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 19th 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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-- 
WILLIAM APT
Attorney at Law
812 San Antonio St, Ste 401
Austin TX 78701
512/708-8300
512/708-8011 FAX
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