[ilds] re Bitter Lemons and Durrell attitudes to colonialism

Robin Collins robin.w.collins at gmail.com
Tue Apr 5 13:06:29 PDT 2016

 I feel a bit out of my reach here, but when I read Espirt de Corps
(pub.1951?) a long time ago, while I didn't find it hilarious by any
stretch, I didn't get the feeling that LD took himself or the diplomatic
corps (and bey extension British colonialism) particularly seriously. It
was a job to him, a source of income so that he could write...
Anyone have a more recent memory of this book?


> Message: 1
> Date: Mon, 4 Apr 2016 19:05:13 -0700
> From: James Gifford <james.d.gifford at gmail.com>
> [...]
> As you know, I tend to read Durrell as often ironic, and many don't
> agree with me -- I've said on the listserv in the past that I look to
> the opening of /Bitter Lemons/ in exactly the same way as I look to the
> opening of /Justine/ in the same year.  It speaks in the contradictions
> but not in what's said, much like the closing interpretation of silence.
> Justine opens with Freud & Sade, but I think it's Freud *vs.* Sade, and
> the cut or unspoken portions are the most important.  Likewise, /Bitter
> Lemons/ opens with its claim "this is not a political book" but follows
> up an epigram that makes the irony pretty overt: "A race advancing on
> the East must start with Cyprus" followed by grand conflicts between
> nations and imperialism then a closing reference to how important the
> Suez Canal makes Cyprus.  It's always struck me as something like "of
> course I could not write this book if it were a political book, so it
> isn't -- by the way, I'm lying."

> [...]
> All best,
> James
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