[ilds] Revolt and Benedicta

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sun May 22 09:11:48 PDT 2016


Pick and choose your metaphors.  Spears or straws, swords or bayonets.  As far as preferences go, there’s no point in disputing them, as the Latin tag goes.  I too like Chaucer’s Pardoner and Milton’s Satan.  But this exchange also seems to be a discussion on critical method.  Lawrence Durrell loved irony and made much of the fact, so Benedicta and Felix got names that meant their opposite as their characters unfold.  Durrell had method and madness.  He was no slouch.  He expected his readers to pick up on his whims and amusements, excessive erudition being one of them, to wit, the reference to the Iceni.  Durrell liked to take leaps, like Sipple jumping off the Acropolis or Sacrapant diving off a minaret.  (Both places are religious sanctuaries, surely no accident.)  I think such leaps presume a leap of critical faith.  Still, we may not want to go all the way, just as Durrell restrained himself in real life.  I always see him balancing on the edge, daring himself, as daughter Sappho Jane decried.  As to the “Revolt” itself, dunno, I just dunno. Someone will have to explain that to me.  In the meantime, I’ll join Felix in his rowboat.

Bruce





> On May 22, 2016, at 3:31 AM, Sam Kirshaw <samkirshaw at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> 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?
> 
> Sam  
> 

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