[ilds] Evaluating the Quintet

Richard Pine pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com
Wed Oct 5 07:38:54 PDT 2016


The essence of KIM is twofold: the "Game" and the "Quest" - it chimes with
what LD himself wrote (In Tunc-Nunquam" that the 3 elements in any story
are: Quests, Confessions and Puzzles. Kim is part of the "Great Game" for
control of India's northwest frontier, and his Quest - to discover "Who is
Kim?" merges with that of the Lama for the "River of the Arrow".
Worth watching the 2 film versions - 1950, with Errol Flynn (as Mahbub Ali)
and 1984 with Peter O'Toole as the Lama).
RP

On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 4:59 PM, Frederick Schoff <frederick.schoff at gmail.com
> wrote:

>
> I'm reading "Kim" for the first time as an adult. It's not hard to see the
> east/west contrast. I imagine LD loved the boisterous and colorful aspects
> of it (is this part and parcel of the "romanticism" Forster didn't like?).
> Also, I think, the idea of a "Great Game" as the armature and animator of a
> story impressed Durrell. I first read the Quartet for its overall lushness
> and the interactions and thoughts of the characters. But "Palestine" ruled
> over all the action, gave shape and defined the parameters of the story. In
> the Quintet it's the Templars and their rumored treasure. In addition to
> other aspects, I think "Kim" taught Durrell some key lessons about pure
> story-telling. Sure, "Kim" might be just a boy's adventure book (how it was
> first presented to me), but both elements are in there: good story-telling
> and depiction of different world views.
>
>
> On Oct 4, 2016, at 6:29 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> wrote:
>
> Richard, you’ve mentioned Kipling’s *Kim* before in this context.  I’ll
> have to reread it in the way you suggest.  I must have missed something,
> but I can imagine what Said probably said.  I wonder why Durrell didn’t
> keep Forster’s *Passage to India* as a “bedside book.”  It seems equally
> relevant.  Forster, by the way, didn’t like Durrell and his brand of
> Romanticism and didn’t say nice things about him in private.  Durrell, on
> the other hand, was very gracious towards E. M.
>
> Bruce
>
>
>
>
>
> On Oct 4, 2016, at 2:29 PM, Richard Pine <pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> 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*.
> RP
>
> On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 12:19 AM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
> > wrote:
>
>> 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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