[ilds] Nin & Heraldic

James Gifford james.d.gifford at gmail.com
Thu Feb 25 13:04:56 PST 2016


 > Here I would bring in Hermann Broch’s idea of
 > an “ultimate reality,” as expressed in /The
 > Death of Virgil/ (1945).  Perhaps only
 > superficial, the similarities need to be fully
 > explored.

I meant to respond to this earlier, Bruce, but got caught up in other 
things (the ILDS just hosted two very successful panels at the 
Louisville conference).  I must admit I've never read Broch's /Death of 
Virgil/, but his name has popped up around Durrell before.  A quick 
check shows Alan Warren Friedman and Victor Brombert connecting them 
through their use of myth.  Durrell and Broch both published in /The 
Chimera/ as well.

On 2016-02-24 5:24 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
> I see Durrell’s use of “Heraldic” as representing some extra dimension
> of reality, accessible through the imagination, intuition, or some kind
> of praxis:  “Transcending logic it [Heraldic] invades a realm where
> unreason reigns, and where the relations between ideas are sympathetic
> and mysterious—affective—rather than casual, objective, substitutional.”
>   This from “Ideas about Poems” in /Personal Landscape:  An Anthology of
> Exile/ (London 1945).  See also Gifford’s edition of /From the
> Elephant’s Back/ (2015).

I'd be inclined to think of the invasion a bit differently, stressing as 
it does the Heraldic's influence on other places rather than a place of 
its own.  The "unreason" too strikes me as borrowing from the Surrealist 
impulse from which Durrell first articulated it as a concept.  I must 
admit though, I'm not inclined to see it as a spiritual matter and 
suspect discussing it in those terms can be a distraction.

The full letter to Miller in which Durrell first mentions it was a point 
by point response to Herbert Read's speech on Surrealism, which he'd 
sent to Miller and Miller sent to Durrell.  It's detailed in the 
Miller-Read letters.  Setting the three side by side by side, there 
really isn't any doubt about what Durrell was responding to, and I see 
that as shaping how the term operates in its later repetitions.

All best,
James


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