[ilds] Madness

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Wed Nov 25 16:18:33 PST 2015

As Richard rightly suggests, Lawrence Durrell may have been too much in tuned with the “madness” of modern civilization.  From the perspective of German literature, Romantic through Modern, Erich Heller has written about this in his Disinherited Mind (1959) and other works of criticism.  Friedrich Hölderlin had mental illness, and Nietzsche went mad (although probably due to syphilis).  As Lady Caroline Lamb said, Lord Byron was of course “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”  Sappho Jane says pretty much the same thing about her father.  Who can read today’s newspapers and not conclude that our times are indeed “mad?”


> On Nov 25, 2015, at 3:02 PM, mail at durrelllibrarycorfu.org wrote:
>  Looking through my MINDSCAPE (revised edition) I am struck by the frequency of the references to, and dicussion of, madness. Especially the chapter devoted to TUNC and NUNQUAM. But LD's own ideas about madness can be found in a notebook which may date as early as 1939: ?madness is merely a revolution in behaviour, not an interior schism or disease?. Also, in my discussion of the QUINTET, I pay much attention to the characters of Livia and Sylvie: ?frozen into the total madness of insight?.: ?though she has very distinct marks of madness in her look one always feels that to call her insane would be to put all ontology to the question?. Sobering words. LD himself, as I say in the book, was, while writing TUNC and NUNQUAM, afraid that he himself was  not merely "on the edge of madness" but about to topple in. His very clearly drunken notes from that period, and from his very last notebook, make it clear to me that he was quite frightened by this, exarcebated as it was by the theme running through TUNC/NUNQUAM, that civilisation itself was enetring a period of madness.
> RP

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