Saturday, 9 February 2013

Defaming Lawrence Durrell

Under the headline 'Book of a Lifetime' the novelist Jim Crace has written an article in The Independent saying how much he enjoyed reading The Alexandria Quartet when he was a young man, how much he enjoyed reading it again later, and how much he looks forward to reading it yet again.  

But also Jim Crace confesses that he is 'embarrassed to enjoy Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet so much', for he associates the pleasure with a more 'callow' and 'less judgmental' version of himself.  The Quartet 'is still for me a brave and brazen work, more ready to take risks than take excessive care', says Jim Crace.  But that is not good enough, and the rest of Jim Crace's article is an exercise in how a grown up man in England these days learns to keep his tail between his legs.  The Quartet, he says, is 'an early passion of mine and one I revisit for the blowsy comfort it provides'.  Well, that is all right then, Jim.  The cultural police will let you off this time. 

For anyone curious to read Jim Crace's own account in The Independent of his struggle against exciting writing, click here.

An embarrassed Jim Crace
Not that I have written this post to draw your attention to the solitary practices of Jim Crace.  Instead my eye was caught by his remark that Lawrence Durrell's private life has been 'peeled off to reveal a predatory and sleazy man'.  If I were Jim Crace I would be embarrassed to have made that remark. 

I have answered it by adding a comment at the end of his article in The Independent, which you can see online and I repeat below.

'It is remarkable that Jim Crace can write that Lawrence Durrell's life has been 'peeled off to reveal a predatory and sleazy man'. Having written about Durrell myself, and being engaged in writing his biography, I can say that Durrell has been the victim of certain predatory and sleazy people out to make a buck. In due course their deceits will be exposed and they will be publicly shamed in my book. Meanwhile it would be good if Jim Crace exercised his critical faculties before re-blabbing whatever blab he has picked up from the literary sewer.'