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Durrell Re-read By James M. Clawson

Durrell Re-read by James M. Clawson

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Significant contributions to twentieth-century British literature, Lawrence Durrell's major works (1938-1985) are nevertheless read in a way that differs from the author's plan for them. This study argues for the consideration of Durrell's twelve major novels as a unitary whole.

Durrell Re-read Summary

Durrell Re-read: Crossing the Liminal in Lawrence Durrell's Major Novels by James M. Clawson

Reading the twelve major novels of Lawrence Durrell, this study argues for their consideration as a single major project, an opus, marked by themes of liminality and betweenness. As major texts of mid-twentieth-century literature, repeatedly earning nominations for the Nobel Prize, Durrell's work has attracted renewed critical attention since his centenary in 2012. This study shows the thematic unity of the opus in five areas. First, by disrupting expectations of love and death and by fashioning plural narrators, works in the opus blend notions of the subject and the object. Second, in their use of metafictional elements, the texts present themselves as neither fiction nor reality. Third, their approach to place and identity offers something between the naturalistic and the human-centric. Fourth, though the texts' initial concerns are engaged with understanding the past and preparing for a future, they all resolve in something like the present. And fifth, though the novels reject many aspects of modernism, they reside nevertheless between the poles of modernism and postmodernism. Shared with other writers, including T.S. Eliot and Henry Miller, as early as the 1940s, Durrell's plans for his major works of fiction remained consistent through the publication of the last novel in 1985, and these plans show the need to consider the twelve major works as a unitary whole.

Durrell Re-read Reviews

In reading James Clawson's dense and widely-researched "re-read" of Durrell's major works, I was taken into Durrell from a direction that opened up new insights and gave me reasons to reread the books myself. . . . for the Durrell aficionado, the effort is well worth investing in. Clawson's eye for detail and his rigorous exploration of his theme of liminality is a rich contribution to scholarship on the work of Lawrence Durrell. * Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal *
Several Durrell studies sought "the whole," but Clawson reveals something new: what produces the wholeness of Durrell's "opus." Durrell described Alexandria as "a hybrid, a joint," which tells us more of Durrell than Egypt. The wholeness of Durrell's works comes from this liminality, the joints that connect difference in a general arthrology. Clawson's conclusion is inescapable and important to modern British literature widely conceived: that Durrell's coherence lies not in continuity but in the contiguity of liminal moments of transition. -- James Gifford, Associate Professor of English & Director of the University Core, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Vancouver
James Clawson's incisive, comprehensive analyses offer a whole range of innovative understandings of Durrell's oeuvre - of its diversities as well as overarching unities - and a clear, enabling perspective on the complex mid-twentieth century literary allegiances shaping its unique vision. -- Randall Stevenson, Professor of Twentieth-Century Literature, University of Edinburgh
This new book claims for Lawrence Durrell his rightful position at the heart of twentieth-century literature in English. Creatively rereading the disparate major fictions as a unified "opus," James Clawson establishes a lucid framework for apprehending the instabilities of time and space, life and death, art and reality that mark Durrell's liminal world. -- Anne R. Zahlan, Professor Emerita, Eastern Illinois University

About James M. Clawson

James Clawson is assistant professor of English at Grambling State University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments List of Abbreviations Introduction Chapter 1 Subject and Object Chapter 2 Reality and Fiction Chapter 3 City and World Chapter 4 Past and Future Chapter 5 Modern and Postmodern Conclusion Bibliography Index About the Author

Additional information

Durrell Re-read: Crossing the Liminal in Lawrence Durrell's Major Novels by James M. Clawson
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
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