[ilds] Evaluating the Quintet

Richard Pine pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com
Tue Oct 4 14:29:38 PDT 2016

To appreciate the east-west tension in LD - and particularly the Quintet -
it's helpful to look at Kipling's *Kim* - which LD called his 'bedside
book' - and to look also at the ways western critics have tried to engage
with this tension - and then to look at the ways non-western critics like
Said and Chaudhuri have read *Kim*.

On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 12:19 AM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>

> Ravi,
> 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.
> Bruce
> 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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