The Racist Discourse In Lawrence Durrell's Justine

1237 Words5 Pages
Noha Amr Ali Elfeqi
Professor Sahar Hamouda
Comparative Literature
4 April 2016
The Racist Discourse in Lawrence Durrell’s Justine
In his essay “An Image of Africa”, Chinua Achebe criticizes the white colonizer and his depiction of Africa as “"the other world," the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization” (783). Similar to the criticized white colonizer, Lawrence Durrell sees the beauty of Alexandria only in what is European. As Alexandria is becoming more Arab, gradually, Durrell laments the city as the “blacks” start “leaking into the European quarters” (59). Although Achebe wrote this essay criticizing Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness that was published fifty-eight years before Justine, the white man’s view of “the other” is
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Darley in the novel says that he is “rebuilding” (Durrell 18) the city in his brain. He depends on memory, and a white man’s memory must be clouded by what Edward Said calls “Orientalism”. In his book with the same name, one of Said’s definitions of Orientalism is that it is “a Western style for domination, restructuring, and having authority over the orient” (20). The keyword in Said’s definition is “restructuring”. It intersects with Durrell’s diction when talking about the city in the interview (“reconstruction”) and in Justine (“rebuilding”). The three words are synonymous with one another. Thus, the city, especially the Arab quarter and its inhabitants, are customized by Durrell’s prejudiced…show more content…
Hund and Charles W Mills explore the origin of the racist simile that non-blacks use. It was thought that Africans are the product of sexual unions with animals and consequently they became associated with beasts. Durrell describes Africans in an identical manner: “we Europeans in such disharmony with the fearful animal health of the blacks around us” (56). He gives Africans an animalistic trait as if they are as the myth says, children of beasts. The scholars continue saying that Africa was labelled “as a contagious continent incubating pestilences of all sorts in hot muggy jungles”. Once again, Durrell’s discourse matches perfectly the discourse of the stereotypical racist white man. He uses the exact word used in the essay, “pestilences”, to describe Justine’s room in the Arab quarter: “Our room bulging with darkness and pestilence” (56). Moreover, the muggy jungles are something very close to the image the readers get of the Arab quarter with its streets full of mud, soil, rats, and swarms of flies (Durrell
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