[ilds] Revolt and Benedicta

Sam Kirshaw samkirshaw at gmail.com
Sun May 22 03:31:56 PDT 2016

From Bruce Redwine the following riposte to my comments:

Sam Kirshaw certainly has a (deliberately?) provocative take on Benedicta (whose name I initially took to mean ?well spoken? or some such).  I would not go so far as to say she?s more real than Io or Justine or Melissa.  In fact, I don?t much care for her character.  Durrell, however, seems to have other ideas.  So, ?this slender woman riding down upon us like some drunken queen of the Iceni? (p. 158; 3.2).  The Iceni were a Celtic tribe during the Roman Period.  Tacitus mentions them.  Their queen Boudica led a revolt against the Romans.  ?Benedicta? plays on ?Boudica??  Possibly.  Hence, ?The Revolt of Aphrodite??  Dunno.  I just tend to see her as simply revolting, doubled-toed and all.  Still, I understand the attraction of ?revoltingness.?

I am minded of my godfather’s pre-meal ritual whose brevity is laden with a heavy irony. “Benedictus benedicat”. The blessed blesses. Such are the benefits of going to a grammar school that was more like a public school in its traditions. But I rather think it is clutching at spears to try to forge a link between Benedicta and Boudicca. One doesn’t have to “like” Benedicta to appreciate her. Many Durrell characters are unlikeable but unerringly fascinating. Perhaps it is the out-at-elbows reaction to the wealth and spoiled upbringing of this slender woman that causes such alienation.

As to the revolt itself, one must first, perhaps, look at the nature of the goddess, not perhaps the most savoury joker in the Pantheon. After all, her nonsense with Paris led to the epoch of Greek militarist bullies dominating the Aegean and doing unto Troy what would later be done by the Romans to Carthage. So is the revolt an outer or an inner revolution? Centrifugal or centripetal? And in the end is the destruction of the contracts the end of the capitalist firm or merely its demonstration of how it is woven into the fabric of the culture? 

I am currently at the Nube, that cloaca maxima of aphrodisiac tendencies in old Athens, and wondering at the naivety of Samiou Iolanthe. Or is she as devious and cunning as Ms Merlin, pimped out for the greater glory of the firm?


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