[ilds] Lit. of Pop Culture

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sat Mar 26 08:11:43 PDT 2016

The literary term “novel of ideas” is vague and not a term of art (I can’t find it glossed).  But I don’t take it to mean necessarily the advocacy of some idea (Rand’s Atlas Shrugged).  It may simply be a discussion of some ideas (Mann’s Magic Mountain).  Durrell is sly, as you point out, so determining what he really thought about some subject is difficult.  Again, Skordili shows that Gnosticism is not simply a plaything in the Quartet—it has an integral role.


> On Mar 25, 2016, at 9:31 AM, James Gifford <james.d.gifford at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Bruce,
> I agree, Beatrice's work is excellent.  For anyone who cannot access it, she's posted a copy to Academia.edu:
> https://www.academia.edu/633349/The_Author_and_the_Demiurge_Gnostic_Dualism_in_The_Alexandria_Quartet
> You need to join to download it, which some may not want to do, so it's also online in the National Library for direct access (you just need to link past the disclaimer to access it, and then the whole journal issue on Durrell is there):
> http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/202/300/agora/2004/v3n01/
> I'd certainly agree with you about the novel of ideas, but at the same time, Durrell covers his tracks in ways that, say, Voltaire does not. I've pointed in the past to Durrell's use of Nietzsche, but does he endorse Nietzsche?  Hmmm.  Peter Christensen points to Durrell using Spengler, but again, is he endorsing Spengler?  We even have praise for Marx in /Monsieur/ (after decades of anti-Marxist comments), but is that Durrell or his character?
> That provisionality is, itself, one of the central "ideas" for Durrell, or at least I like to this so.
> All best,
> James
> On 2016-03-24 7:40 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> James,
>> Most interesting.  Thanks for the philosophical background on the
>> treatment of popular culture in today’s academy.  Re Durrell (whose
>> preferred term was probably “metaphysics”), he was eager to experiment
>> and dabble, especially in esoterica and the “operations of the
>> individual mind,” as you say.  Ken Gammage likes to bring in science
>> fiction, and that’s surely relevant to Durrell’s interests.  I’ll repeat
>> that I see Durrell as a novelist in the tradition of the European “novel
>> of ideas.” Which means, of course, that we as readers should discuss
>> “ideas,” Durrell’s ideas, overt or latent, and not something as nebulous
>> as feelings about the “pleasure of the text,” however that’s done.  How
>> do we discuss Durrell’s ideas?  Well, Beatrice Skordili in her excellent
>> article, “The Author and the Demiurge:  Gnostic Dualism and /The
>> Alexandria Quartet”/ (2004), does a good job at just that.
>> Bruce

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