Re: EW and the American Canon
Posted by Anne on August 23, 2004, 8:43 pm, in reply to "Re: EW and the American Canon"
I welcome the discussion. I don't get many opportunities to discuss Whittemore myself.
You may be interested in reading a discussion of Sinai Tapestry which is on the Atlantic Online Books & Literature forum. The Virtual Reading Group chose to discuss Sinai Tapestry in July 2003. Follow the link below to read the thread.
: Thanks again, Anne.
: I often raise these questions with friends
: when brainstorming ideas for research and
: study, but, as none of my literary peers or
: professors are at all familiar with EW-except
: for the individual who introduced me to
: him-never do I receive answers or assistance
: with my ideas; insightful responses are quite
: refreshing. I look forward to continuing
: healthy Q & A.
: --Previous Message--
: There was break of about 5 years between the
: publication of Jerusalem Poker (1978) and
: Nile Shadows (1983). Perhaps that has
: something to do with the shift from magic
: realism to a more realist view of events.
: Nile Shadows and Jericho Mosaic do contain
: magic realist passages and the characters are
: rather fantastical and of mythic proportions.
: The books aren't in least conventional
: despite being less fantastic.
: One can only guess at why this shift
: occurred. By all reports, Whittemore had
: planned the whole Quartet before sitting down
: to write it.
: The two later books are dealing with
: relatively recent historical periods and
: Whittemore himself was older and maybe
: Bletchley who becomes Bell is obviously
: representative of the spy masters of WWII and
: not necessarily a self portrait of the
: author. It is curious that all the spy
: masters are crippled in some way. Why? Is it
: a comment by Whittemore on the psychological
: effects of being an undercover agent?
: As for Strongbow's vision of a chaotic and
: orderless world being a reflection of EW's
: own dialectical approach to the world, I
: really haven't thought about it so can't help
: you there.
: Perhaps Sam (welcome to the JD Message Board,
: Sam) can enlighten us as he obviously was
: personally acquainted with EW.
: I for one would be fascinated to hear more of
: what Whittemore's thoughts about the world,
: the universe and everything were. Reading his
: books one can only speculate.
: --Previous Message--
: I appreciate your prompt, courteous, and
: insightful response. As thesis research will
: begin zestfully in the spring, I certainly
: hope that contact between us will continue.
: If you do not find my potentially substantial
: inquiries cumbersome, I will undoubtedly seek
: you as a reference point when I find myself
: in a rut or needing some guidance for a piece
: of research.
: Two questions: 1) There is a noticeable shift
: between Jerusalem Poker and Nile Shadows from
: fantastical realism to realism. That is to
: say, Nile Shadows and Jericho Mosaic do not
: maintain the same aura of fantasy and myth as
: Tapestry and Poker. This shift, to me, is
: intentional, but for what reason? 2)
: Strongbow's Levantine Sex (not too) subtely
: attacks several modern dialectical thinkers
: from the 19th century: Freud, Marx, even
: Nietzsche to a degree. Is Strongbow's vision
: of a chaotic and orderless world a reflection
: of EW's own dialectical approach to the
: world? If so, wouldn't this ideal (chaos and
: disorder) contradict EW's ideal Middle East,
: since the co-existence of Christians,
: Muslims, Jews would require a most severe
: degree of order and structure.
: Thanks again,
: PS. A third question: If you find Bell of
: Jericho Mosaic more representative of EW,
: would Bletchley of Nile Shadows also be
: representative of EW, as they are, I assume,
: the same character?
: --Previous Message--
: Thanks for your kind comments on the site and
: welcome to the Edward Whittemore Appreciation
: Society as you obviously are a member.
: Regarding the books that may have influenced
: Edward Whittemore, it is not at all clear
: what would have been on his bookshelf.
: In Tom Wallace's memoir there is some
: reference to Whittemore's taste for spy
: novels as in his favorite writers were Le
: Carre and Greene.
: There is a reference to Lawrence Durrell's
: Alexandria Quartet in Jerusalem Poker where
: Nubar Wallenstein is described as having a
: taste for bad poetry and particularly the
: poems of Arnauti. Arnauti is the author of a
: book called "Moeurs" in the novel
: As for Stern representing Whittemore, even
: though he is the expression of Whittemore
: dreams for the Middle East, I think he is
: just that, the physical representative of
: those ideals.
: I've always thought that Bell (the old spy
: master)in Jericho Mosaic is more Whittemore.
: Abu Musa is styled on one of Whittemore's
: friends, Musa Farhi & a further hint is
: that Moses the Ethiopian eunuch was probably
: dreamed up from where Whittemore lived in
: Jerusalem - next to a Ethiopian monastery in
: Ethiopia St.
: It is certainly fascinating searching out
: where all his characters come from.
: Your mention of Tom Robbins reminds me of an
: email I received several years ago. Tom
: Robbins is a Whittemore fan and has been
: influenced by Whittemore rather than the
: other way around.
: I wish you well with your thesis and would be
: delighted to render any assistance I can.
: I could ask Whittemore's old editor if he
: remembers Whittemore's taste in Literature.
: --Previous Message--
: Kudos to your site! I was only recently
: introduced to the brilliance of Whittemore
: and now am seeking to dedicate my first
: profound endeavor-M.A. Thesis-in literary
: scholarship to popularizing EW in the
: contemporary American canon. Since the
: beginning of this year I have easily and
: fanatically plowed through the Quartet twice.
: Actually, the second trip through the novels
: was more of an archaeological dig. Your site
: has certainly been helpful, especially with
: discovering which authors and novels EW may
: have kept on his own bookshelf.
: While I commonly see references and
: comparisons to Robbins, which, to me, is
: something of an insult, Pynchon, though EW is
: less intellectually pompous, and Vonnegut, I
: wonder if you have any further insights to
: authors or novels that may have influenced
: EW? Garcia-Marquez? Faulkner?
: Finally, it seems that Stern's ideal Middle
: East is fashioned after EW's own idealistic
: vision of the Middle East. Since most, if not
: all, of EW's characters are forged from some
: actual historical individual, should I
: assume,then, that Stern was created from EW's
: interpretation of his own self?
: Again, I appreciate the site you have created
: and look forward to being a regular visitor.
: : :
Link: Virtual Reading Group Sinai Tapestry discussion