[ilds] Evaluating the Quintet

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Tue Oct 4 14:19:08 PDT 2016


I like the contrast between Durrell’s Constance and Tennyson’s “Ulysses”:  to yield v. not to yield.  I think you’re absolutely right in this.  That’s the Indian metaphysics of Durrell’s philosophy, which is very un-Western.  As to the rest of the Quintet, it has so many aspects (and defects) that readers will be puzzling over these for years to come.  I don’t think, however, that Durrell himself was ever “happy.”  In this regard, he was Odyssean, “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”  What he advocated was not necessarily what he practiced.


> On Sep 28, 2016, at 8:14 PM, Ravi Nambiar <cnncravi at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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

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