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Abstract

To say that ‘the city is a field’ is in itself metaphorical, creating a nexus between ideas of place and activity. To go further, as Durrell did, and to say ‘only the city is real’ is to develop the idea of ‘city’ into a universe, a self-embracing metaphor within which meaning and value can be ascribed by means of the novelist’s use of parts of speech. Syntax now carries the burden of romance, of sentiment. One could parse every sentence and paragraph of the Quartet and find gradations of meaning, of intention, of impression; blocks of intense expression juxtaposed with the relative meandering of simile, with terse, complex, cryptic statements or observations. Metaphor, simile, metonymy, oxymoron, synecdoche, catachresis, litotes, become the pathway to Darley’s wistfulness, Balthazar’s cogency and Pursewarden’s enigma. They sharpen or blur the edges between statement and observation.

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Notes and References

  1. M. Proust, Swann’s Way, trans. C. K. Scott Moncrieff and T. Kilmartin, Remembrance of Things Past (New York: Random House, 1981) vol. 1, p. 49.

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  2. Proust, ibid., vol. 3, p. 945, says: ‘a work, even one that is directly autobiographical, is at the very least put together out of several intercalated episodes in the life of the author’; can this have influenced Balthazar’s statement (Quartet 370): ‘to intercalate realities is the only way to be faithful to Time’?

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  3. Similarly, could Durrell’s method of epiphany by annunciation have been influenced by Proust: ‘if God the Father had created things by naming them, it was by taking away their names or giving them other names that Elstir created them anew’ (ibid., vol. 1, p. 893)?

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  4. Laing, Self and Others, p. 19; cf. also p. 28: ‘one person investigating the experience of another can be directly aware only of his own experience of the other’.

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  5. Ibid., p. 34.

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  6. Ibid., p. 37.

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  7. Cf. my lecture on the emotional and thematic similarities between the play Translations by Brian Friel and the novel An Instant in the Wind by André Brink, in my forthcoming Homecomings.

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  8. Steiner, Extraterritorial, pp. 66, 83.

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  9. Ibid., p. 38; Steiner continues (pp. 38–9): the metaphor goes something like this: the Universe is a great Book; each material and mental phenomenon in it carries meaning. The world is an immense alphabet. Physical reality, the facts of history, whatever men have created, are, as it were, syllables of a perpetual message. … Thus, Borges’ universalism is a deeply felt imaginative strategy, a manoeuvre to be in touch with the great winds that blow from the heart of things. When he invents fictitious titles, imaginary cross-references, folios and writers that have never existed, Borges is simply regrouping counters of reality into the shape of other possible worlds.’

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  10. Ibid., p. 83.

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  11. Ibid., p. 72.

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  12. Cf. D. Cooper, Metaphor (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986).

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  13. CalTech notes.

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  18. ‘His Sensations and Ideas’ is the subtitle to Pater’s Marius.

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  19. Cf. Wilde, Letters, ed. R. Hart-Davis (London: Hart-Davis, 1962) p. 475: ‘I wanted to eat of the fruit of all the trees in the earden.’

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  20. Cf. D. Donoghue, ‘Yeats: The Question of Symbolism in We Irish’ (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986) p. 37.

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  23. Stein, ‘Sacred Emily’.

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  25. Hamlet, act III, scene iii, 11. 395–9.

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  27. Ibid., p. 49.

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  28. Cf. Pater, Marius, vol. 1: ‘the great college’ (p. 6); ‘the great portico’ (p. 7); ‘some great occasion’ (p. 20); ‘a great pestilence’ (p. 31).

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  29. Laurence Housman, Echo de Paris (London: Cape, 1923).

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  30. Wilde, ‘I live in constant fear of not being misunderstood.’

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  31. Keats, Letters, ‘I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections.’

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  33. ‘The world is a biological phenomenon which will only come to an end when every single man has had all the women, every woman all the men. Clearly this will take some time’ (Quartet 706).

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© 1994 Richard Pine

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Pine, R. (1994). The City as Metaphor. In: Lawrence Durrell: The Mindscape. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-23412-7_9

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