[ilds] The Index to Prospero's Cell

Marc Piel marc at marcpiel.fr
Wed Jul 23 11:39:52 PDT 2014

When "you" use the word "peasant", it is forceably 

Le 23/07/14 20:00, Bruce Redwine a écrit :
> James,
> Yes.  It's interesting how he published in 
> small, obscure presses.  Durrell's affinity for 
> "peasants" (without the pejorative 
> connotations), as David previously noted, runs 
> deep.  How deep is a matter of debate, but I'd 
> say profound.  Most of his close friends were 
> literary types, which is not in the least 
> surprising given his profession.  His 
> descriptions of the common man, particularly 
> those of the Greeks and Turks he met on Cyprus, 
> are genuine and moving, although I recall a talk 
> at OMG XVIII which argued his attitude towards 
> Greeks was derisive.  I strongly disagree with 
> that portrayal.  I also think it significant how 
> he often dressed (plaid shirt, rolled-up jeans, 
> pea jacket) as an indication of his real 
> personality.  When he put on tie and jacket, he 
> looked awkward fulfilling his duties at literary 
> functions.  His wanderings in "Escargo," the VW 
> camper, are also telling.  I wouldn't say he was 
> "a man of the people," but he was able to 
> appreciate both worlds and seemed comfortable 
> with the average bloke.  Henry Miller was 
> certainly of that school too, although Miller 
> objected to Durrell's "circle of pompous 
> homosexual English literati" (Chamberlin, 
> /Chronology,/ 25).  Chamberlin calls this a 
> "wild generalisation," but was it?
> Bruce
> On Jul 23, 2014, at 9:49 AM, James Gifford 
> <james.d.gifford at gmail.com 
> <mailto:james.d.gifford at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> 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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