[ilds] Fermor and Durrell

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sun Jun 15 08:52:18 PDT 2014


The phrase "suffering an art" rings bells, but I can't place the poem.  Cf. "(The sickness of the oyster is the pearl)," the refrain in "At the Long Bar."  In "Loeb's Horace" we have "Imperatives:  seek, suffer, endure" and  "The suffering hidden under gentleness."  Durrell is very fond of the word suffering, so it obviously had great personal meaning.  No doubt he did suffer a lot and used his art as an "anodyne," another of his words.  Whether one choses "wrong" or "maladapted" to describe Durrell's condition, the fact remains that he had some serious problem which literary criticism, so far, fails to address at the author's personal level.  Either that or he was hypersensitive to the "sickness of the Age," if you will, the Weltschmerz that the great critic Erich Heller associates with German poets/writers like Hölderlin (who went mad), Kafka, Mann, and Rilke (one of Durrell's favorites).  Maybe Durrell was both, sick and hypersensitive.  Anyway, I think it useful to try and understand Durrell's personal obsessions/problems/maladaptations as a way to break into his obsessive style.

Bruce



On Jun 14, 2014, at 10:56 PM, James Gifford <james.d.gifford at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 2014-06-14, 7:09 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> The next thing is to ask, what was wrong with him?
> 
> I see why you're driving at with this, but shouldn't we also add, "what's wrong with all of us?"  If we were all happy or well-adjusted, would we need art, either to create or appreciate?
> 
> I'd need to look it up, but I seem to recall from Durrell's poetry a phrase near to "and make of his suffering an art" -- perhaps someone can correct me.  Was it an epigram?  Was it a paraphrase or quotation?
> 
> Rather than "wrong," I'd be more inclined to ask how he was mal-adapted, or perhaps ask where he struggled the most against this world and his situation in it.  I'd also tend to emphasize Durrell's self-consciousness about his problem -- he resisted analysis because he felt it could dry up his creative source, and for the luxuriant and sexually overflowing Alexandria, we are reminded "No one would mistake it for a happy place."  I think there was a good deal of awareness of this tension within himself, just not a solution.
> 
> Best,
> James
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