[ilds] Is D Durrell?

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Wed Jul 23 12:16:58 PDT 2014


James,

One, MacNiven says Count D. is a "composite" in his biography (1998; 138, 293), so does Stephanides in his memoir Autumn Gleanings (2011; 35).  Haag once held that the count was a fictional character.  I believe all are mistaken.  Count D. is actually Lawrence Durrell in disguise.  Look at the text and Durrell's description of the man:  "The old Count, a man of about sixty, was stocky and heavily built; he possessed a pair of remarkably eyes set in a head which was a little too big for his body.  But the small hands and feet gave a distinctly Byronic cast to one's first impressions" (75).  Discounting the Count's age (pace Ken Gammage's ingenious suggestion, 60 years or thereabouts is probably intended to deflect a direct comparison and to cause Shandean confusion), the dwarf-like physiognomy is clearly Durrell's (a man self-conscious of his "shortness," according to MacNiven, 101).  When the Count opens his mouth and speaks, he also sounds like Durrell talking about philosophy, literature, Shakespeare, and misogony (77-81).  There is also a suggestion of suicide (77), and suicide was an abiding aspect of Durrell's mentality.  Back around 1984, Ian MacNiven visited Durrell at his home in Sommières and undertook a "search for the real Lawerence Durrell."  Re Durrell's garden, MacNiven writes, "Garden is not the right word:  Enchanted Forest better describes the surroundings of Durrell's Castle Perilous.  Readers of Prospero's Cell may recall that on Count D's property 'the walks are unkept and the trees unpruned,'  and Durrell — Count Durrell — too has let nature run wild" (On Miracle Ground II, 235).  MacNiven has it almost right in that article.  Count D. and "Count Durrell" are one and the same, as his juxtaposition suggests.

Two, re "truthiness," the New Oxford American Dictionary has the gloss:  "the quality of seeming or felt to be true, even if not necessarily true."  The dictionary says that modern sense was coined by Stephen Colbert.

Bruce



On Jul 23, 2014, at 9:24 AM, James Gifford <james.d.gifford at gmail.com> wrote:

> Brief note:
> 
> MacNiven lists "Count D." as a composite character, with Dr. Constantine Palatiano as the main inspiration (as reported by Stephanides).  Also, Eleftheria in the epilogue is Elie Papadimitriou, whom Durrell was publishing and boosting in Egypt.
> 
> As for expecting truthiness, Colbert told me to rewrite the Wiki on /PC/, so perhaps we can rely on tertiary sources to set us all straight on this one.  When I add Prospero's rough magic to Durrell's refracting dark crystal, I leave behind expectations of "truth is what is truth?"
> 
> I was struck while reading a book recently on fantasy fiction. The author argues that the defining generic trait of fantasy is that it presents a world that is not real, that is fantastical, hence requiring the reader to set aside expectations of reality or truth -- I'd always thought that was more general to fiction overall, and perhaps most creative non-fiction as well, and even a great deal of what I keep on my history shelf {he quietly whispers 'religion' here}.
> 
> Then again, I just finished teaching Lovecraft's /The Call of Cthulhu/, which has clay tablets, messages, documentary evidence, and even quotations from anthropological articles, and yet it still appears to be untrue.  Maybe Lovecraft wasn't just an awful racist (in fascinating ways to teach) but could even have been a liar when he wrote.  That would indeed be the straw that broke this camel's back...
> 
> All best,
> Jamie
> 
> On 2014-07-23, 8:26 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> Robin, sounds like Laurence Sterne up to his old tricks.  Thanks for the link to the interview, a good one.
>> 
>> Bruce
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> On Jul 22, 2014, at 3:14 PM, Robin W Collins <robin.w.collins at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 
>>> [Ken] writes:
>>> "...but really, who else dedicates a book (at least in part) to himself! Or else
>>> Bruce & I are mistaken. Or, a third option?"
>>> 
>>> How best to pretend (wink wink) D isn't Durrell when it is, to mock himself, than to dedicate the book to himself?
>>> 
>>> Interesting and entertaining interview you all probably have seen; maybe a few of you involved in doing it: http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/fms/Colleges/College%20of%20Humanities%20and%20Social%20Sciences/PEP/PDF_documents/Sociology/Beatson/Laurence%20Durrell%20Interview.pdf
>>> 
>>> Robin
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
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