[ilds] Why Istanbul?

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Mon May 16 10:39:45 PDT 2016


James,

Durrell’s “Polis” as a locale still bothers me, given his preference to describe what he actually knows, the “Deus Loci.”  After all, why refer to the modern Turkish city as a Greek polis?  This signals to me that Durrell is deliberately indulging in fantasy or up to something else entirely.  Conrad’s settings in his Eastern World are typically those he knew first-hand.  His descriptions are quite real and detailed.  When Durrell is out of his element (that of direct experience), however, he tends to fall flat on his face, so Felix and Benedicta’s voyage around the world is unconvincing, concocted, and unreal.  Durrell’s imaginary “Polis” may have something to do with Greek Byzantium and the Byzantine machinations of “the firm,” located in a city described as “the rotting corpse of Byzantium” (p. 178; 3.2).

Bruce


> On May 13, 2016, at 11:47 AM, James Gifford <james.d.gifford at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> 
> 
>> One thing about /Tunc/ bothers me.  Durrell is
>> the writer of “the spirit of place.”  He is most
>> famous for the landscapes he knew first hand.
> 
> The invented scenery around the Golden Horn is also a gesture back to Conrad, but as you note, if he's choosing a place specifically and not based on residence, then why Istanbul?  The joint between East and West would make sense.  But we open in Poggio's, although even in that we really open with Dostoevsky, and in French rather than Russian (and I think in Boris de Schlözer's existentialist translation).
> 
> Best,
> James

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