[ilds] Aphrodite's Revolt

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Mon Jun 20 12:53:32 PDT 2016


Thanks for the confirmation, Charles.  So Durrell knew his Spengler in translation, but I doubt he knew in depth other authors such as Paracelus or the Vulgate which he inaccurately quotes.  MacNiven has commented that Durrell’s readings were wide and discursive and that he picked up bits and pieces here and there, that is, whatever suited his interests.  The impression he leaves, however, is greater than the fact.  Does this really matter?  No.  The end product is what counts.

Bruce

PS Good to hear from you.  Hope all goes well.



> On Jun 20, 2016, at 12:09 PM, Charles Sligh <cls9k at virginia.edu> wrote:
> 
> Bruce asks:
> 
> Nevertheless, when he refers to “[Durrell’s] re-reading of Spengler,” does he know if Durrell read all of Spengler’s two volume Decline of the West (München 1918; New York 1926)?—which is massive, about 1000 pages—or did he crib it from some other abbreviated source?  
> 
> Richard responds:
> 
> Spengler: as far as I know, LD read the 2-vol edition quite early. 
> 
> Absolutely--very early.
> 
> From Ian MacNiven's bibliographical description of the Lawrence Durrell collection, Morris Library: 
> 
> MacNiven observes that LD's reading notes from a Prospero's Cell working notebook ("A.5" / dated 1938) show LD as "reading Spengler's Decline of the West [with page numbers referring to the A. A. Knopf, 1928 edition]."
> 
> Good luck to all!
> 
> C&c.
> 
> *****************************************
> Charles L. Sligh
> charles.sligh at virginia.edu <mailto:charles.sligh at virginia.edu>
> Department of English
> University of Virginia
> *****************************************
> 
> 
> On Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 2:04 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net <mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>> wrote:
> Richard’s can of worms opens up many intriguing questions about honesty, which I’m sure would have pleased old LD.  I have one about Durrell’s reading habits.  Richard may have commented on this in his Mindscape (2005) or elsewhere, which I haven’t seen.  My apologies for laziness.  Nevertheless, when he refers to “[Durrell’s] re-reading of Spengler,” does he know if Durrell read all of Spengler’s two volume Decline of the West (München 1918; New York 1926)?—which is massive, about 1000 pages—or did he crib it from some other abbreviated source?  For example, some of Durrell’s readings in Paracelsus come via C. G. Jung’s work on alchemy.  Charles Sligh, I believe, has commented on this reading habit as evidenced by LD’s notebooks.  I wonder if something similar was going on with Spengler.
> 
> Bruce
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
>> On Jun 20, 2016, at 1:07 AM, Richard Pine <pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com <mailto:pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> 
>> I doubt if I can add anything. I have not read the comments on Tunc/Nunquam as they have issued.
>> All I can say on the title(s) is that LD did not like the composite title 'Revolt...' - it is possible that it was one of several potential titles that he suggested when his publishers asked for one, but I doubt it, since he expressed to me his dislike of it and said it was due to his American publisher's insistence. Whether or not that is true seems to be irrelevant, given that nothing anyone says is necessarily true. We all tell truths which are also lies. Some academic reputations are based on this premiss. Maybe I'm naive in not looking a gift horse in the mouth, and maybe I should not have taken LD's word at face value, but I remain sceptical because in my opinion Tunc/Nunquam is not merely about the revolt of Aphrodite, whatever that may be. In my opinion (backed up by what LD told me, which may or may not be true) the books are more (but not necessarily exclusively) about the revolt of man's conscience against the reification and decline of intellectual and moral standards - our entire ontology as a species. LD's brilliance in forecasting voice-sensitive recording machines etc. (and his derivativeness in borrowing the idea of a simulated Iolanthe from 'A For Andromeda') typifies this disillusion which was partly fuelled by his re-reading of Spengler. That is my opinion, but of course I may not be truthful in my opinion, since it is the function of critics to lie through the teeth of a gift horse in order to prove their case.
>> As for the 'petrifact', my lie-detector suggests that it may refer to one of the many sculptures of Aphrodite (of which the best known is the so-called Venus de Milo) - the phrase "the austere mindless primitive face of Aphrodite" comes to mind (AQ) - the blindness of the sculptured face having become a cliche which LD uses (as he uses us) in Tunc/Nunquam in relation to the mosque - just before the death of Sacrapant. But that is to open a minefield of worms, a veritable diet...
>> Anyway I don't think much of that 'Aphrodite ' poem, especially the Shakespearian allusion. We all live lives based on selected allusions, n'est-ce pas? Believe me, I'm an allusion. And the allusion appeared unto Mary and said 'How the fuck are you going to explain this to Joseph? You'ld better start praying. Here's a god.: ' And his name was.... Mobego.
>> RP.
>> 
>> On Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 1:46 AM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net <mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>> wrote:
>> 
>>> On Jun 19, 2016, at 1:53 PM, Ric Wilson <Ric.Wilson at msn.com <mailto:Ric.Wilson at msn.com>> wrote:
>> 
>>> So the thing about LD's like or dislike of title(s) at hand, what could the subtext here refer to, I wonder?  
>>> 
>>> Ric Wilson
>>> 
>>> Aphrodite
>>> 
>>> Not from some silent sea she rose
>>> In her great wave of nacre
>>> But from such a one?O sea
>>> Scourged with iron cables!  O sea,
>>> Boiling with salt froths to curds,
>>> Carded like wool on the moon?s spindles,
>>> Time-scarred, bitter, simmering prophet.
>>> On some such night of storm and labour
>>> Was hoisted trembling into our history?
>>> Wide with panic the great eyes staring ?
>>> Of man?s own wish this speaking loveliness,
>>> On man?s own wish this deathless petrifact.
>>> 
>>> 1964/1961
>> 
>> Ric, I think Richard Pine can best answer your question.  My personal opinion, following Richard’s suggestion elsewhere, is that Durrell was being cagey.  That is, he in fact came up with The Revolt of Aphrodite as a title for Tunc and Nunquam, but he wanted to confuse the situation and thrown people off the track.  So he denied the fact.  What does the title mean?  The sonnet “Aphrodite” provides one answer, as it stands like a broken artifact, suggesting more than it reveals.
>> 
>> Stay cool,
>> 
>> Bruce


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