[ilds] Why Istanbul?

Richard Pine pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com
Mon May 16 11:48:18 PDT 2016

The Greek name for Istanbul (Constantinople) is, to this day,
- the city (polis) of Constantine (hence the genitive 'Konstantinou'). For
brevity, it's called 'Polis'. Greeks would never call it 'Istanbul'. When a
Greek says 'Polis' (unless he is travelling specifically, e.g. in a bus, to
a city, when he might say 'polis' to the ticket-seller to indicate his
destination, as I myself do when taking the bus from my village to Corfu
Town) he is referring to what we conventionally call 'Istanbul'.

On Mon, May 16, 2016 at 8:39 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>

> 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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