[ilds] The Index to Prospero's Cell

James Gifford james.d.gifford at gmail.com
Wed Jul 23 09:49:59 PDT 2014


On 2014-07-22, 3:51 PM, Denise Tart & David Green wrote:
> the way peasants feature prominently in Durrell's books
> deserves exploration; he identified with them in someway

It's worth articulating Durrell as an author writing for a readership of 
which he was not a part...  I'm regularly struck by just how radical 
many of his closest friends were.  The aristocracy and educated elite 
are certainly there, and they are certainly a part of his readership -- 
Durrell, as you say, was not writing for Orwell's coal miners, but then 
again, neither was Orwell.

Durrell was an outsider in the public school system and never went to 
university, not even a polytechnic.  His diplomatic service kept him in 
a particular crowd, but his most sustained literary relationship was 
with Henry Miller, a self-professed radical who didn't even have a bank 
account until late in life, and Durrell continued to turn to radical 
small presses across his career, from Bern Porter to Grey Walls Press, etc.

Yet he was never radical enough nor even explicit enough to ever give 
offense to his audience.

It strikes me that Durrell enjoyed his time with peasants, and generally 
with those who wouldn't be reading his books, though he presents a 
simplified image of them to his audience.  Orwell (whose work I like 
very much) may have elevated the same groups, but he didn't enjoy his 
visits with them...  Maybe that's why I tend to look for irony in 
Durrell and allegory in Orwell.

All best,
James


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