Lawrence Durrell: Judith


The latest addition to my website is Lawrence Durrell‘s Judith. This novel was only published in 2012, thirty-two years after Durrell’s death. It was originally written as a screenplay for a film starring Sophia Loren. The eponymous Judith was meant to be the daughter of a prestigious German scientist and Judith, herself a scientist, had been freed by a Jewish group from a concentration camp, not least because it was suspected that she might have some of her father’s scientific secrets. Sophia Loren objected to this, not wanting to be portrayed as an intellectual and the role was rewritten for her, with the Judith character being the ex-wife of a Nazi general, who had also been freed from a camp. After the release of the film, Durrell wrote a book based on the screenplay, but featuring both Judiths, though with the second one, the ex-wife of the Nazi, being called Grete. However, he declined to publish it during his lifetime. The story tells of the arrival of Judith and Grete in Palestine, during the later part of World War II and the subsequent activities of the Ras Shamir kibbutz, where the two are sent, leading up to the creation of Israel. Durrell takes a very pro-Israel approach, with the Jews invariably brave, clever and heroic, as they fight for the creation of Israel, with their enemies being the British authorities, as much as the Arabs. It is not a very good book and it is easy to see why Durrell chose not to publish it in his lifetime.

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