[ilds] Is D Durrell?

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Thu Jul 24 09:51:45 PDT 2014


David and Ken,

As I've argued before, I don't think Count D. ended up being a "composite" character.  He may have begun that way, but the shift from "C" to "D," as Anna points out, indicates Durrell's final intentions.  The Count is Durrell in disguise, and that penchant for creating various personae continues throughout his long career.  My argument boils down to the "duck test":  "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck."  This seems obvious to me.

I agree with David's description of Durrell's use of "peasant."  He uses the term positively.  My sense of the word, however, based on American usage, conjures up images of rustics working in the fields, probably in some European setting.  I think of Van Gogh's painting of women planting potatoes or his Potato Eaters.  We don't use peasant in the States, maybe because of its association with class distinctions.  We Americans like to think of ourselves as living in a classless society, which is entirely false, of course.

Ken makes a good point about travel literature.  "Island books" seems a more accurate classification, but then you run into the problem of his last work, Caesar's Vast Ghost, situated in Provence.  Paul Hogarth's Mediterranean Shore:  Travels in Lawrence Durrell Country (1988), which Durrell participated in, seems to solve the problem.  Durrell found his deus loci around the Mediterranean, as defined by the habitat of the olive, as he says in Sicilian Carousel:  "What we mean when we use the word Mediterranean starts there, starts at the first vital point when Athens enthrones the olive as its reigning queen and Greek husbandry draws its first breath" (65).  Beautiful.  Durrell's way of thinking is often Keatsian, very sensual, crushing the grape kind of thing.


Bruce




On Jul 24, 2014, at 12:45 AM, Denise Tart & David Green <dtart at bigpond.net.au> wrote:

> Anna,
> 
> thanks for the reminder about Count D being a composite character (as were a number of LD's characters). I think the change from Count C to count D gave Durrell more latitude with character in that he could put more of his creativity into the character and not be beholden a real person as I agree with James that Larry was careful of his audience and certainly less daring than Miller (although pulled back from publishing Air-conditioned nightmare until after the war).
> Durrell's 'I' is also a carefully edited version of himself. Durrell does not like to provide too much ammunition.
> 
> To Marc Piel, I do not see the word peasant as pejorative, but merely descriptive; defining the rural poor. Durrell may simplify them for his readership but he does not piss on them. In England and Australia (actually here most people don't know what the term means) the term is pejorative, but I don't think Durrell uses the word this way. He appears to have had good relationships with the peasants in Greece and I agree with James that he enjoyed their company (see Clito's wine bar in BL for example). He could speak Greek and did not, as far as I can make out, condescend. Now, Peasant is a French word. you will know what it means and whether it is pejorative or not in your country. For Durrell it is often an endearment.
> 
> David Whitewine
> 
> Sent from my iPad
> 
>> On 24 Jul 2014, at 2:24 am, Anna Lillios <anna at ucf.edu> wrote:
>> 
>> Two notes:
>> 
>> 1)  PROSPERO'S CELL can be considered in the genre of travel books written by British travelers to Greece, beginning with Lord Byron.  As a grad. student I read around 50 of these travelogues and found that the authors follow a pattern: there's a search for spiritual illumination among classical landscapes, criticism of local Greeks for not living up their literary forebears, use of classical allusions and metaphors, etc.  In a sense, PROSPERO'S CELL goes against this grain, in that Durrell appreciated the contemporary citizens of Greece and their culture.
>> 
>> 2)  Years ago (maybe in 1988), I accompanied Ian and Susan as they searched for traces of Durrell's life in Corfu.  We met relatives of the aristocratic family members, including the Palatianos, with whom Durrell hobnobbed in Corfu town and visited a house that "Count D" possibly inhabited.  In his biography of Durrell, Ian claims that Count D was "not based on a single individual, but is apparently a composite character grounded on several of Larry's Corfiote friends, despite the fact that Larry would identify the original of the Count to Henry Miller as his old friend Dr. Palatiano" (MacNiven 293) [LD to HM, c. October 1945, DML 186].  Durrell originally labeled the Count as "C" in one draft and then changed his name to "D" in the final.  Palatiano's first name was Constantine.
>> 
>>    Anna
>> 
>> 
>> 
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