[ilds] Tunc kick off

Kennedy Gammage gammage.kennedy at gmail.com
Fri May 20 20:43:47 PDT 2016

Cheers David – it’s the Tunc scrum on the ILDS Virtual Book Club (VBC).
Well, even though I’m only halfway through it’s my third go-round (been
awhile) – since I’m such a slow reader I don’t want to miss out on the VBC!
Cheers to all who’ve been chiming-in.

So first, this crazy Caradoc speech at the Parthenon: do we think that
Austen Harrison used to comport himself like this? To me this whole book
and all the characters are Pure Grade A Durrell spouting off like
Mediterranean Whales! The language is dense and chewy and you can take your
time with it – but it occurred to me that since the narrator is a scientist
instead of a writer, this gives our hero (D) the added incentive to throw
the kitchen sink of intellectual ferment into the mix and damn the

Here’s a question: Graphos, Hippo’s lover, is a major Greek politician. She
is so excited:

“He is certain now to carry the autumn election and that will save the day.”
“For whom? For what?”
“For us all, silly.”

Does this have anything to do with the Generals’ Coup? Wasn’t that right
about the time the book was published?

Also, related question (I will know the answer if I continue rereading) –
Does Durrell at any time mention World War II in these novels?

“At the best the Turks of the capital looked opium-ridden, or as if clubbed
half insensible; the clothes set off their mental disarray to perfection.”
Is this anti-Turk racism, or is he describing a period-specific situation
in reference to their political turmoil?

Here’s a later reference that seems racist: “…typical of his leaden
unhurried race.”

I was happy to see the Firm does business in Antananarivo. I looked it up
on my last reading.

Bruce, the name Sacrapant Googles nicely but Mobego continues to elude me.

Abdul Hamid was deposed in 1909 by the Young Turks. Merlin built his firm
by catering to him.

When you Google ‘geldik gel ulalum’ (which Benedicta whispers to her hawk)
it leads you back to Tunc.

‘E quindi uscimmo ariverder la stelle’ is so beautiful – it would be lovely
to learn the language by listening to the Divine Comedy in Italian!

Jocas and Julian are Persian? Yet another race to join the polyglot ‘Greek,
Jew, Armenian, Copt, Italian’ in the Firm - at least in their Eastern

Perhaps it was a bit precocious of Io to predict the entire plot of the
novels from the auspices of her greasy cards – down to Benedicta’s devil

Benedicta, the daughter of a falcon: Jack Merlin.

Strange sport hunting a marsh heron with a falcon! Just had a great blue
heron fly low directly overhead the other morning. It’s the closest thing
we have to a pterodactyl.

“We fitted into each other like Japanese razors.” That can’t be good.

Enjoying this - bravo Durrell!

Cheers - Ken

On Fri, May 20, 2016 at 6:36 PM, Denise Tart & David Green <
dtart at bigpond.net.au> wrote:

> Great to see the Tunc football has been well truly punt kicked down the
> paddock eliciting awe from the sidelines at the height and trajectory of
> its flight. I have to say I am finding the book hard going and the fiery
> intellect of the recent discussions a bit over this shopkeeper's head, but
> here's a few thoughts anyway..
> ..there is Durrell's usual cast of oddballs - alcoholic scholars,
> mysterious aristos, whores pimps etc - disenfranchised outliers vaguely
> attached to some all encompassing firm, The Firm, much as we all are, and
> maybe this is Durrell's point; no matter how much we may want to, there is
> no escape unless via a leap into the eternal void.
>         Also Durrell's use of indicative 'character' names, very 18th
> century, very Henry Fielding and for example brilliantly done in Dark
> Labyrinth. Or, names from classical antiquity, although no dogs called
> Homer so far. The past is always the key to Durrell, the past projected
> into the present, time compressed, something from which, like The Firm, we
> cannot escape but we have our booze, our whores or whatever to console us.
>         For sure Margot Durrell knew something but I don't think there is
> any real mystery here: Durrell always projects versions of his current
> squeeze or squeezes past and present into his fiction, just like the cast
> of oddballs circling the author like moths around a flame. Durrell's books
> are, in general, highly autobiographical, life turned into art because art
> is more bearable as LD himself admitted and the Moodscape of Tunc is very
> much an exploration the great void, The Firm with the Devil at large of
> course.
> David
> Sent from my iPad
> _______________________________________________
> ILDS mailing list
> ILDS at lists.uvic.ca
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