[ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 113, Issue 19

Ravi Nambiar cnncravi at gmail.com
Wed Sep 28 20:14:33 PDT 2016


Bruce
Thanks for your expert comments. You are hundred percent right.* The
Quintet* may/will get the fate of *The Revolt*. I don't speak
authoritatively at all. I am a humble admirer of Durrell. I just quoted
Durrell's own words (so that I can escape) only to show that he had not
anticipated a Quartet-type audience for his Quintet ("The book is really
written for learned people."); and, in spite of that, he claimed this novel
his best. My only contention is that it is too early to write off this
novel as a failure. Also, there are some fine parts which our young
scholars could/should pursue. Our negative (final) judgement should not, I
feel, discourage anyone from going into its by-lanes. For example, I liked
the contrast Durrell made to the concept of Victorian heroism with a/the
modern heroism: replacing the slogan, "to strive, to seek, to find and not
to yield" with the slogan, "to surrender, to yield, to abdicate and
receive" (*Constance* 269). I don't think substituting the  heroism of
Ulysses with that of a Yogi is any kind of philosophy or a bad philosophy.
Yoga is popular now. Durrell's concern was to make his character seek
happiness, inner happiness, a kind of"bliss-side up" life (the first half
of the novel was the war-ridden world). That is why I called his novel
"Eudaemonistic" novel, the type of novel making its theme as a system of
ethics that evaluates actions (heroism) in terms of their capacity to produce
happiness. The Quintet may be a failure, but, it certainly gives some
narrative clues to future writers. We have had enough of realism,
surrealism, magic realism, and so on. Why not try metarealism also?
My apology to all those who disagree with me. Let us agree to disagree for
the sake of literature.
Best
Ravi


On Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 12:30 AM, <ilds-request at lists.uvic.ca> wrote:

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> Today's Topics:
>
>    1. Evaluating the Quintet (Bruce Redwine)
>    2. Re: Evaluating the Quintet (Richard Pine)
>    3. Re: Evaluating the Quintet (Bruce Redwine)
>
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Message: 1
> Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2016 14:52:31 -0700
> From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> To: Sumantra Nag <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
> Cc: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> Subject: [ilds] Evaluating the Quintet
> Message-ID: <3C504832-6F3B-421E-B8EC-F9692D6424A1 at earthlink.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>
> Ravi, whom I respect, reports that Durrell apparently thought the Quintet
> his best work.  I doubt the truth of his statement, but my opinion is just
> that, an opinion.  I don?t, however, think that authors are necessarily the
> best judge of their own art.  Hemingway thought that Across the River and
> into the Trees (1950) was his best novel.  He even compared it to some kind
> of literary ?calculus,? whereas his previous novels, presumably, were
> simply works of arithmetic.  Who believes that nowadays?  Few if any, I
> think.  Durrell had his own philosophy (some mix of Indian and Chinese
> thought), but his real genius as a writer of fiction was a blend of
> storytelling and poetry.  I don?t see this in the Quintet and think that
> Durrell went off the deep-end and got lost in the netherworld of his own
> dark obsessions (the philosophy not withstanding, which is of great
> interest, but which doesn?t save the whole enterprise from its own
> self-destruction).
>
> Bruce
>
>
>
>
>
> > On Sep 27, 2016, at 9:12 AM, Ravi Nambiar <cnncravi at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Dear Bruce
> > Your statement, "I think the success of the Quartet depends on
> literature, whereas the lack of success of the Quintet depends on
> philosophy", prompted me to collect some of Durrell's own words from the
> interviews he gave:
> > "...this quintet is more important to me than the Alexandria Quartet".
> > "Avignon Quintet will be my last book, a present to France."
> > "The English don't very much like ideas and abstraction."
> > "The book is really written for learned people."
> > "The Avignon Quintet is an intellectual autobiography."
> > "Quartet, the hurly-burly and ripening of experience, quintet the
> acceptance of reality."
> > "The Alexandria Quartet takes into account Western psychology, dualism,
> and ambivalence."
> > "The Quintet accordingly offers a solution: the East as a way out for
> the West. Things are so simple, nor so abstract."
> >
> > It is agreed by almost all D scholars that to understand Durrell, one
> has to read all of his work. The Quartet, the four, slides into the five,
> the Quintet ("five baskets of experience"): unlike in the quartet, "...in
> the quintet the last page is really the last page."
> > Regards
> > Ravi
> >
>
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> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 2
> Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2016 11:19:28 +0300
> From: Richard Pine <pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com>
> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Subject: Re: [ilds] Evaluating the Quintet
> Message-ID:
>         <CAEVum0KQzoxJ6JeaKeT1ZFUPLMRBPDc0viQhHnyTia5JhmXHFQ at mail.
> gmail.com>
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>
> Bruce is entitled to say that we should question whether authors are the
> best judges of their work. And Ravi is not quite accurate in saying that LD
> considered the Quintet his 'best' book. His statement to me was quite
> clear: The Quartet was his most successful, Tunc/Nunquam his most important
> and the Quintet his most ambitious, But who was he to judge? I took him
> seriously at the time, because of the emphasis he placed on Tunc/Nunquam. I
> think LD knew that, for a variety and concatenation of reasons, the Quintet
> hadn't worked - it had been too ambitious. But we can, I think, see the
> 'plot' of the Quintet as both a narrative and a philosophical plot,
> marrying east and west, and it is this difficulty for the author which also
> creates problems for most 'western' minds.
> I'll quote from my 'Mindscape' (which you can read on the DLC website):
>
> ?It will be my star-ypointed pyramid? Durrell wrote twice in the quarry
> books for the *Quintet.* <#_ftn1> The triple significance of the expression
> (which founds its explicit way into the text of the *Quintet* 1300) is
> remarkable: not only does it suggest a metaphysical conceit, since it
> echoes the ?star y-pointing pyramid? which Milton ordained for
> Shakespeare?s bones, but also reminds us of the initial memory on which
> *Monsieur* is predicated (?I was reliving the plot and counterplot of
> Shakespeare?s Sonnets in my own life. I had found the master-mistress of my
> passion? - *Quintet* 10); it also replicates the pyramidal force-field of
> the quincunx as exemplified in architecture from both east and west,
> including the Taj Mahal and the temple of Bakheng, of which Durrell had
> made particular note. <#_ftn2>
>
> These geometric notions gave Durrell the mechanistic encouragement he
> required to ?build? a structure of five novels which would then form a
> force-field in a truly scientific sense. Thus the quincunxial idea both
> provided the basis for what he was trying to achieve in the east-west
> *entente* and the vehicle for one of the oldest of grail themes, that of a
> square of four trees with a fifth planted at its centre, beneath which the
> treasure lay.
>
> But the most significant fact is that Durrell believed that the ?power of
> five?, when linked to his previously elucidated ?rule of four?, would
> provide him with the means to negotiate the hitherto inaccessible, those
> ?buried alive?. This would be the true meaning of *anagnorisis*, the moment
> of recognition between sisters; between lovers; between writers; between
> master and servant, creator and created; between the boy who left home and
> the man who returns. It would represent the point at which the man who, all
> his life, had told himself ?*he must not remember*?, could regard himself
> in the mirror and, by submitting to memory, name himself. As Kundera
> observed, ?the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory
> against forgetting?. <#_ftn3>
>
> PS: I will be posting Bruce's, Rick';s and Ravi's messages on the COMMENTS
> page of the DLC website, and others which relate to our understanding and
> appreciation of LD's overall achievements as a writer with the ultimate
> ambition of the 'Tibetan novel'.
>
> RP
> ------------------------------
>
>
>
> On Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 12:52 AM, Bruce Redwine <
> bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> wrote:
>
> > Ravi, whom I respect, reports that Durrell apparently thought the
> > *Quintet* his best work.  I doubt the truth of his statement, but my
> > opinion is just that, an opinion.  I don?t, however, think that authors
> are
> > necessarily the best judge of their own art.  Hemingway thought that
> *Across
> > the River and into the Trees* (1950) was his best novel.  He even
> > compared it to some kind of literary ?calculus,? whereas his previous
> > novels, presumably, were simply works of arithmetic.  Who believes that
> > nowadays?  Few if any, I think.  Durrell had his own philosophy (some mix
> > of Indian and Chinese thought), but his real genius as a writer of
> fiction
> > was a blend of storytelling and poetry.  I don?t see this in the
> *Quintet*
> > and think that Durrell went off the deep-end and got lost in the
> > netherworld of his own dark obsessions (the philosophy not withstanding,
> > which is of great interest, but which doesn?t save the whole enterprise
> > from its own self-destruction).
> >
> > Bruce
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On Sep 27, 2016, at 9:12 AM, Ravi Nambiar <cnncravi at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Dear Bruce
> > Your statement, "I think the success of the Quartet depends on
> literature,
> > whereas the lack of success of the Quintet depends on philosophy",
> prompted
> > me to collect some of Durrell's own words from the interviews he gave:
> > "...this quintet is more important to me than the Alexandria Quartet".
> > "Avignon Quintet will be my last book, a present to France."
> > "The English don't very much like ideas and abstraction."
> > "The book is really written for learned people."
> > "The Avignon Quintet is an intellectual autobiography."
> > "Quartet, the hurly-burly and ripening of experience, quintet the
> > acceptance of reality."
> > "The Alexandria Quartet takes into account Western psychology, dualism,
> > and ambivalence."
> > "The Quintet accordingly offers a solution: the East as a way out for the
> > West. Things are so simple, nor so abstract."
> >
> > It is agreed by almost all D scholars that to understand Durrell, one has
> > to read all of his work. The Quartet, the four, slides into the five, the
> > Quintet ("five baskets of experience"): unlike in the quartet, "...in the
> > quintet the last page is really the last page."
> > Regards
> > Ravi
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > ILDS mailing list
> > ILDS at lists.uvic.ca
> > https://lists.uvic.ca/mailman/listinfo/ilds
> >
> >
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> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 3
> Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2016 08:50:44 -0700
> From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> To: Sumantra Nag <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
> Cc: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> Subject: Re: [ilds] Evaluating the Quintet
> Message-ID: <667FBB26-ADBF-4A1A-B0DB-760CA7923FDC at earthlink.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>
> Richard, your explanation in Mindscape is a very informative discussion of
> the significance of the quincunx in the Quintet.   I also see a connection
> to Durrell?s Heraldic Universe and its advocacy of symbols and metaphors as
> the ultimate reality.  But I don?t know how successful this level of
> abstraction is in a work of fiction.
>
> Bruce
>
>
>
> > On Sep 28, 2016, at 1:19 AM, Richard Pine <pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >
> > Bruce is entitled to say that we should question whether authors are the
> best judges of their work. And Ravi is not quite accurate in saying that LD
> considered the Quintet his 'best' book. His statement to me was quite
> clear: The Quartet was his most successful, Tunc/Nunquam his most important
> and the Quintet his most ambitious, But who was he to judge? I took him
> seriously at the time, because of the emphasis he placed on Tunc/Nunquam. I
> think LD knew that, for a variety and concatenation of reasons, the Quintet
> hadn't worked - it had been too ambitious. But we can, I think, see the
> 'plot' of the Quintet as both a narrative and a philosophical plot,
> marrying east and west, and it is this difficulty for the author which also
> creates problems for most 'western' minds.
> > I'll quote from my 'Mindscape' (which you can read on the DLC website):
> >
> > ?It will be my star-ypointed pyramid? Durrell wrote twice in the quarry
> books for the Quintet. <x-msg://4/#_ftn1> The triple significance of the
> expression (which founds its explicit way into the text of the Quintet
> 1300) is remarkable: not only does it suggest a metaphysical conceit, since
> it echoes the ?star y-pointing pyramid? which Milton ordained for
> Shakespeare?s bones, but also reminds us of the initial memory on which
> Monsieur is predicated (?I was reliving the plot and counterplot of
> Shakespeare?s Sonnets in my own life. I had found the master-mistress of my
> passion? - Quintet 10); it also replicates the pyramidal force-field of the
> quincunx as exemplified in architecture from both east and west, including
> the Taj Mahal and the temple of Bakheng, of which Durrell had made
> particular note. <x-msg://4/#_ftn2>
> > These geometric notions gave Durrell the mechanistic encouragement he
> required to ?build? a structure of five novels which would then form a
> force-field in a truly scientific sense. Thus the quincunxial idea both
> provided the basis for what he was trying to achieve in the east-west
> entente and the vehicle for one of the oldest of grail themes, that of a
> square of four trees with a fifth planted at its centre, beneath which the
> treasure lay.
> >
> > But the most significant fact is that Durrell believed that the ?power
> of five?, when linked to his previously elucidated ?rule of four?, would
> provide him with the means to negotiate the hitherto inaccessible, those
> ?buried alive?. This would be the true meaning of anagnorisis, the moment
> of recognition between sisters; between lovers; between writers; between
> master and servant, creator and created; between the boy who left home and
> the man who returns. It would represent the point at which the man who, all
> his life, had told himself ?he must not remember?, could regard himself in
> the mirror and, by submitting to memory, name himself. As Kundera observed,
> ?the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against
> forgetting?. <x-msg://4/#_ftn3>
> >
> > PS: I will be posting Bruce's, Rick';s and Ravi's messages on the
> COMMENTS page of the DLC website, and others which relate to our
> understanding and appreciation of LD's overall achievements as a writer
> with the ultimate ambition of the 'Tibetan novel'.
> >
> > RP
> >
> >
> >
> > On Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 12:52 AM, Bruce Redwine <
> bredwine1968 at earthlink.net <mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>> wrote:
> > Ravi, whom I respect, reports that Durrell apparently thought the
> Quintet his best work.  I doubt the truth of his statement, but my opinion
> is just that, an opinion.  I don?t, however, think that authors are
> necessarily the best judge of their own art.  Hemingway thought that Across
> the River and into the Trees (1950) was his best novel.  He even compared
> it to some kind of literary ?calculus,? whereas his previous novels,
> presumably, were simply works of arithmetic.  Who believes that nowadays?
> Few if any, I think.  Durrell had his own philosophy (some mix of Indian
> and Chinese thought), but his real genius as a writer of fiction was a
> blend of storytelling and poetry.  I don?t see this in the Quintet and
> think that Durrell went off the deep-end and got lost in the netherworld of
> his own dark obsessions (the philosophy not withstanding, which is of great
> interest, but which doesn?t save the whole enterprise from its own
> self-destruction).
> >
> > Bruce
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >> On Sep 27, 2016, at 9:12 AM, Ravi Nambiar <cnncravi at gmail.com <mailto:
> cnncravi at gmail.com>> wrote:
> >>
> >> Dear Bruce
> >> Your statement, "I think the success of the Quartet depends on
> literature, whereas the lack of success of the Quintet depends on
> philosophy", prompted me to collect some of Durrell's own words from the
> interviews he gave:
> >> "...this quintet is more important to me than the Alexandria Quartet".
> >> "Avignon Quintet will be my last book, a present to France."
> >> "The English don't very much like ideas and abstraction."
> >> "The book is really written for learned people."
> >> "The Avignon Quintet is an intellectual autobiography."
> >> "Quartet, the hurly-burly and ripening of experience, quintet the
> acceptance of reality."
> >> "The Alexandria Quartet takes into account Western psychology, dualism,
> and ambivalence."
> >> "The Quintet accordingly offers a solution: the East as a way out for
> the West. Things are so simple, nor so abstract."
> >>
> >> It is agreed by almost all D scholars that to understand Durrell, one
> has to read all of his work. The Quartet, the four, slides into the five,
> the Quintet ("five baskets of experience"): unlike in the quartet, "...in
> the quintet the last page is really the last page."
> >> Regards
> >> Ravi
> >>
> >
> >
>
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