[ilds] The Index to Prospero's Cell

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Tue Jul 22 09:01:18 PDT 2014


I agree with Ken's thorough explanation.  As he says, this raises other issues, one of those is the facticity of Prospero's Cell, a subject discussed years ago on the List but worthy of further comment.  When I first read Prospero's Cell, I naively took it to be an accurate account of Durrell's experiences on Corfu, 1935-1939.  It's not.  It's a deliberate deception, part fact, much fiction, and much poetry (which beautifully disguises the fiction).  Michael Haag convinced me of this.  (I also believe that what's true of PC is also true of Durrell's other travel books.  This could lead to a long discussion of the "truthiness" of travel literature in general!)  Durrell is obviously the author of his own book and is obviously and ultimately responsible for everything that goes in it.  He makes the selections of what goes into the story.  But what about the Index, a device which makes the narrative seem factual?  Did Durrell make the Index or did some editor at Faber?  If the Index is Durrell's, then it shows what he considers important.  Not all proper nouns are in the Index.  For example, "N." (Nancy) is not, but the Van Norden (the sailboat) is.  Nancy bought the sailboat but does not get a place in the Index.  I find this interesting.

Bruce



On Jul 22, 2014, at 8:08 AM, Kennedy Gammage <gammage.kennedy at gmail.com> wrote:

> Marc writes “I have just read this again; Never did it occur to me that it was a "joke", nor about bisexuality. As well as that It is a citation of what Theodore says, so cannot be attributed to LD.
> @+
> Marc”
> 
> I wanted to respond because I think this raises several issues of interest – and yes I am aware that language issues are also at play. For instance, even though this e-mail thread references bisexuality, the immediate two preceding e-mails (mine then Bruce’s) refer instead to bestiality, which is the subject of the joke.
> 
> And yes, I think it is a deliberate joke. There are many such jokes about having sex with ewes. One of them has the punchline “Sheep lie.” Another, referring to a Scotsman’s kilt, says “Sheep can hear a zipper a mile away.” 
> 
> I say deliberate because of the way Durrell sets up the joke by referring to his friend Theodore’s ‘academic manner.’ But the statement of Marc’s I particularly disagree with is that it cannot be attributed to LD. Obviously he is the author of the book, and it is his written voice describing the incident. When Durrell writes “He records a conversation…” (he being Stephanides) he is framing the entire multi-paragraph joke dated 15.8.38 – which pays off as Bruce says with the shepherd’s statement, which is the final sentence of the chapter. This is the punchline of the joke.
> 
> I wanted to ask Marc about the @+ symbol above his name. I googled it but nothing came up – is it an emoticon of some sort? I wondered if it was a ‘wink’ indicating that Marc was being facetious, as I was attempting to be with my own bestiality/something nasty comment.
> 
> Cheers - Ken  
> 
> 
> 
> On Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 2:22 AM, Marc Piel <marc at marcpiel.fr> wrote:
> I have just read this again; Never did it occur to me that it was a "joke", nor about bisexaulity. 
> As well as that It is a citation of what Theodore says, so cannot be attributed to LD.
> @+
> Marc
> 
> Envoyé de mon iPad
> 
> Le 22 juil. 2014 à 05:00, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net> a écrit :
> 
>> Which reminds me of that joke in Prospero's Cell about a shepherd and his favorite ewe (end of ch. 6).  The punch line gets two for one — bestiality and misogyny.
>> 
>> Bruce
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> On Jul 21, 2014, at 6:50 PM, Kennedy Gammage <gammage.kennedy at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 
>>> Well - thank God it wasn't bestiality or something really nasty!
>>> 
>>> Cheers - Ken
>>> 
>>> 
>>> On Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 2:41 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> This analysis is similar to Haag's, as cited below, dated 4/8/07.  He explains it well.  One can approach the topic of bisexuality as Durrell's theory or interpretation of the "modern" condition, be it social or personal.  Or one can look at it autobiographically.  Pine quotes Durrell:  "My books are a sort of spiritual autobiography, not only of myself as an individual, but of my age.  What I want to inspect is the secret intuitions of my readers, male and female" (Mindscape, 2nd ed., p. 26).  (Pine's book, incidentally, is a real mine of information about LD.)  I see a lot of fleshiness in Durrell's notion of "spiritual" and would assign a behavioral meaning to "secret intuitions."  From the flesh to the spirit, as Augustine's Confessions shows and as Chaucer writes in his famous Prologue — both writers very familiar to Durrell.  As to the Greek myths, Freud used them as a paradigm for his theory of sexuality as seen in the Oedipus complex.  And Philip Slater in The Glory of Hera uses the myths to explain ancient Greek male psychology and the role of women in that society.  In short, it might be useful get below the surface meaning of Durrell's notion of "bisexuality."  Whichever approach, it's a matter of reader's choice.  "Sink or swim," as the author says. 
>>> Bruce
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>> 
> 
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