[ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 104, Issue 15_Message 5_David Green

James Gifford james.d.gifford at gmail.com
Fri Dec 18 23:09:15 PST 2015

Hello Sumantra,

Linda's book is fascinating, and there are 20 years of her articles 
prior to it in a similar vein.  The linguistic work was very helpful to 
a reader response project I was involved with several years ago.

I wonder if there are two ways of approaching things too.  There's the 
text /as text/, meaning as an art object built in a process for specific 
purposes, and then there's the text as an expression of the author's 
mind.  The French have emphasized the latter in critique génétique while 
the Americans have leaned more to the former in bibliographical work.

If memory serves me correctly, Linda made a fascinating comparison of 
the opening passages of each novel based on their linguistic traits

> In an introductory chapter the book also places the Quartet in the
> context of Durrell's professed philosophical references, including
> relativity and Groddeck's psychological framework.

I must admit that I'm of two minds on this, and perhaps Linda will offer 
us her comments.  There have been a handful of interesting works on 
Durrell and Groddeck (and of course Durrell's "Studies in Genius" piece 
on him) -- the University of Victoria has one of Durrell's heavily 
annotated copies of Groddeck, and I was lucky enough to copy his 
markings in another in private hands.  There's the sense that Durrell 
borrows a philosophy from these works but also the practical matter of 
his borrowing plots from the case studies.  Semira's nose, for instance, 
is taken from UVic's /The Unknown Self/ (a tricky title since it's the 
same words in German we could also render as "The Unconscious Ego," just 
as "It" and "Id" are the same word).

As for relativity, Beatrice Skordili did excellent work retracing 
Durrell's readings on the topic (I believe he read via Bertrand 
Russell's /ABC of Relativity/, but I'd need to check Beatrice's work on 

> It is very likely that this perfunctory  summary of Linda Rashidi's book
> is superfluous and that many on the ILDS Forum are familiar with the
> publication. But  I felt I should draw attention to this work, and
> David's post, referring to the development of Durrell's writing in his
> successive books, provided me with a tenuous context against which to do
> so!

I don't think Linda's book has received the discussion it deserves, and 
David's post certainly points to that accrual over time that seems so 
vital to Durrell's works as a whole as well as his writing method with 
the "quarry" books and revision over time (as much a theme in the 
Quartet as it was his own work method).  I'm more inclined to think of 
Ruth in /Pied Piper/ becoming Gracie in /The Black Book/ becoming 
Melissa in the /Quartet/ becoming Iolanthe in /Revolt/, etc..., but I 
think that's the same point you're both gesturing to (right?). 
Personally, I tend to regard that theme as emerging from the writerly 
practice such that the thematic contents are an expression of the 
writing (and not so much the writing as an expression of the conceptual 

I have 2004 listed as the publication date in my copy of Linda's book, 
which is probably when I last read it...  I'd be glad to have a reason 
to turn back to the book for the list!

All best,

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