[ilds] Tunc kick off

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sat May 21 07:32:32 PDT 2016


Ken, some responses (if not answers) to your questions.

Bruce



> On May 20, 2016, at 8:43 PM, Kennedy Gammage <gammage.kennedy at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> 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 torpedoes!

Yes.  Whales in the Med!
> 
> 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?


The Greek Coup of the Colonels, led by Col. Georgios Papadopoulos.  1967-1974.

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


I don’t think so, but I may be wrong.

> 
> “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?


Remember that Durrell never visited Istanbul.  I think that Durrell is indulging in hyperbole and creating atmosphere for his Byzantine “Polis.”  Also remember that the portrait of Sabri the Turk in Bitter Lemons is well done and not clichéd, aside from some reptilian imagery.

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


Yes.  Arabs also take issue with Durrell’s descriptions of them.

> 
> 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.


Sacrapant = sycophant?  He is a lackey.  Also the magician in George Peele play of 1595.  Mob ego = mob + ego, the abhorrent identity of the masses?

> 
> 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 branch!


The Persian identity mystifies me.  Persian despots?  “Julian” is Latin and makes me think of Julius Caesar or Julian the Apostate.

> 
> 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 toe[s]!


Io’s transformation in the novel is somewhat shocking.

> 
> Benedict, the daughter of a falcon: Jack Merlin.


Why falcons and falconry.  I suspected it has something to do with death.


> 
> 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.


How do Japanese razors fit into one another?

> 
> Enjoying this - bravo Durrell!
> 
> Cheers - Ken 
> 
> 
> On Fri, May 20, 2016 at 6:36 PM, Denise Tart & David Green <dtart at bigpond.net.au <mailto: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

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