Geez. A scholar could spend years unpacking the historical and literary nods in Whittemore's novels. EW's historical worldliness is incomparable, and his use of that knowledge in fiction dwarfs similar attempts by Pynchon and DeLillo. But they attain literary fame? Go figure.
: Sorry for the Cairo/Alexandria mix-up.
: No luck with "Our Colly". Liffy
: sounds intriguing, too...
: It seems that Whittemore took
: "characters" (in both senses of
: the words) from real life, but adapted them
: to fit his novelistic ends, altering their
: names or the time/place they were associated
: A close reading of the texts can give some
: clues: for instance, the name of Burckhardt
: is mentioned in "Jericho Mosaic",
: with the Petra quote that is earlier
: attributed to Johann Luigi Szondi. Maybe
: another name will later on lead me to the
: "real" Colly, for instance...
: Back to work, with keyboard and magnifying
: PS : Cavafy's poems were translated into
: French by Marguerite Yourcenar, and are
: readily avalaible here.
: --Previous Message--
: I'm glad you came back to this thread, it's
: always intriguing discovering Whittemore's
: sources for his characters and localities.
: As far as I know no critic has ventured into
: this area of investigation or even thought
: of it.
: It does require some esoteric knowledge, so
: it is amazing to think of Whittemore using
: these obscure historical figures in building
: his characters.
: Regarding the Rue Lepsius, I believe it was
: Cavafy's address in Alexandria and the
: ground floor was a brothel. I think
: Whittemore's use of the street name for the
: location of the Hotel Babylon (a former
: brothel too) in Cairo is a nod to both
: Durrell and Cavafy. Cavafy is referred to in
: the Alexandria Quartet as "the old poet
: of the city".
: It was Durrell and EM Forster who raised
: Western awareness of Cavafy's poetry in the
: 1950s/60s. I have a copy of Cavafy's
: complete poems which I purchased back in the
: late 60s, early 70s. He was trendy then, as
: was the Alexandria Quartet.
: I've tried to search out the source of Our
: Colly of Champagne with no success, though I
: am sure there must be some historical
: personage with similar exploits.
: I keenly look forward to further revelations
: from Nile Shadows and really appreciate you
: sharing your discoveries with the rest of
: us, Jean-Daniel.
« Back to index | View thread »