Gifford, James. "Mothers, Fathers, Sex and Mystery: Imagining Childhood and Home in Lawrence Durrell's Pied Piper of Lovers" Imagining Home and Abroad. Public Works. Graduate Students of English Association. University of Alberta, Department of English. 21 Nov. 2001. Online. 23 Nov. 2001. http://www.ualberta.ca/~gifford/textspiedpiper.htm. Date you read this page.

© James Gifford
gifford@ualberta.ca


Mothers, Fathers, Sex and Mystery: Imagining Childhood and Home in Lawrence Durrell's Pied Piper of Lovers

This paper was presented for the "Imagining Home and Abroad" panel of Public Works symposium series, sponosored by the Graduate Students of English Association at the University of Alberta, 21 November 2001. A more extensive version of this paper appears in Jouvert 6.1-2 (2001), n.pag: http://152.1.96.5/jouvert/.

James Gifford is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English at the University of Alberta, studying problems of knowledge in the novels of Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller. A very active performer of chamber music and opera, his academic research interests generally include reader response, existential approaches to psychoanalysis, and the twentieth-century novel. He will lecture on postcolonial theory at the Durrell School of Corfu in 2002 and is on the conference committee for the International Lawrence Durrell Society's On Miracle Ground XII, scheduled for May 2002, Ottawa, Canada. For those interested in Mozart, James will appear (in tights) on Friday for Opera Scenes in Convocation Hall.

Abstract

This is an abbreviated version of a paper about to appear in Jouvert, so I apologize in advance for any fractured structures that have resulted from the cuts. Lawrence Durrell's works occupy an uncertain canonic status in Postcolonial Lawrence Durrell's works occupy an uncertain canonic status in Postcolonial Literature, despite his wide influence on an international range of authors and his artistic bridging of several movements in Modernism. Durrell’s novels have inspired 20 book-length studies and over 200 articles this past decade, but nonetheless, they are almost never taught. His works are most often described as the dying breath of Empire gazing at the exotic Middle and Far East, but I contend they may also be seen as highly complex examination of representation and national identity.

Lawrence Durrell's works occupy an uncertain canonic status in Postcolonial Literature, despite his wide influence on an international range of authors and his artistic bridging of several movements in Modernism. Durrell's novels have inspired 20 book-length studies and over 200 articles this past decade, but nonetheless, they are almost never taught. His works are most often described as the dying breath of Empire gazing at the exotic Middle and Far East, but I contend they may also be seen as highly complex examination of representation and national identity. On the far right wing this spectrum, Terry Eagleton assures the reader -- who, he claims, need not actually read the primary works -- that Durrell's novels comprise: "a monument of fake exoticism and pseudo-profundity which some of us at the time mistook for great literature. It was an adolescent taste" (Eagleton n.pag.). Moreover, Eagleton asserts that Durrell "carved himself a literary colony out of Alexandria." While I am using Eagleton sarcastically, I am serious about the numerous inconsistencies between his review of Ian MacNiven's Durrell biography and the book itself. The textual, factual, theoretical, temporal and even physical inconsistencies in his review lead me to believe that his tutor's copy of Justine that "looked suspiciously unthumbed" (Eagleton) very likely resembles his own copy of the biography. I am not implying an antagonism toward Eagleton in general, but rather the academic use of rumour and superficial skimming, which seem rampant regarding Durrell's works.


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