‘Why?’: The Question of Writing

  • Richard Pine
Chapter

Abstract

‘Why?’ At three critical points Durrell posed this unanswerable and, it seems, unaskable question, the most poignant occasion being the incomprehension of Blaise the carter at the suicide of Livia: ‘“Mais pourquoi?”’ — but for what? — the more poignant for the fact that Blaise, unlike Constance, the analytical sister, has only simple questions for these most complex of answers (Quintet 821). Previously the question had led, like a leitmotif, towards an interrogation of behaviour rather than of value. (When Drexel is prevented from seeing the headless corpse of Piers de Nogaret he asks ‘“But why? … what on earth could such a charade mean?”’ — Quintet 74; the innocence of the question underlines its stupidity, its superfluity. Similarly, on another occasion robbed of its dignity by its ordinariness, Blanford’s one-night stand quite fortuitously kills herself next morning: ‘“But why on earth?”’ he exclaims ‘in an outburst of chagrin’ — Quintet 637). It is the chagrin, the bewilderment, the lack of an obvious explanation, that goads the conscience and interrupts the real storyline. Durrell saves his ‘why?’ for the crossroads where madness meets poetry, island meets city. In this chapter I shall take further the idea of the reader‘s responsibility for making sense of something which is beyond the capacity of the characters.

Keywords

Placebo Manifold Schizophrenia Posit Hunt 

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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© Richard Pine 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Pine
    • 1
  1. 1.The Long HouseEmlaghmoreIreland

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