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Lawrence Durrell was born in 1912 in India. He attended the Jesuit College at Darjeeling and St Edmund's School, Canterbury. His first literary work, The Black Book, appeared in Paris in 1958. His first collection of poems, A Private Country, was published in 1943, followed by the three Island books: Prospero's Cell, Reflections on a Marine Venus, about Rhodes, and Bitter Lemons, his account of life in Cyprus. Durrell's wartime sojourn in Egypt led to his masterpiece The Alexandria Quartet, completed in southern France where he settled permanently in 1957. Between the Quartet and The Avignon Quintet he wrote the two-decker Tunc and Nunquam. His oeuvre includes plays, a book of criticism, translations, travel writing, and humorous stories about the diplomatic corps. Caesar's Vast Ghost, his reflections on the history and culture of Provence, including a late flowering of poems, appeared a few days before his death in Sommières in 1990.
July 2012 Guest Editor Barbara Erskine on The Alexandria Quartet... Laurence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet first introduced me to a literary concept of Egypt but also to the intricate and fascinating psychology of exploring lives within a tight social group from several points of view. I found this quite an intense, complex read but it has continued to haunt me. Like Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast it was about a writer and that was what intrigued me. The Lovereading view... L.G. Darley attempts to reconcile himself to the end of his affair with the dark, passionate Justine Hosnani - setting alight a beguiling exploration of sexual and political intrigue that the author himself described as 'an investigation of modern love'. August 2011 Guest Editor Deborah Lawrenson on Laurence Durrell... Lawrence Durrell wrote some of the most sensuous and atmospheric prose of the twentieth century. The Alexandria Quartet is both sweeping and experimental. For me, his loveliest books are the island memoirs, especially Prospero’s Cell which recalls his years living in Corfu in the 1930s. Evocative, lyrical and more achingly beautiful the more you learn about the man.
In the final volume of Lawrence Durrell's Avignon Quintet, a hunt for ancient treasure buried in southern France lays bare the flawed philosophies that animated the great tragedies of the Second World WarJust after World War II, a motley assortment of treasure hunters, mystics, psychoanalysts, and former Nazis race to uncover a treasure buried centuries before by the Knights Templar. Durrell displays his diabolical playfulness and immense imagination as his characters meet and become entangled, long-buried plots reemerge, and the past and future are funneled into the present action. Here the music of the Alexandria Quintetresolves as a symphony, and the series as a whole emerges as a worthy and enduring entry to Durrell's distinguished career.
';The first piece of work by a new English writer to give me any hope for the future of prose fiction.' T. S. EliotAs over-the-top as it is inventive, Durrell's breakthrough novel is a series of sordid vignettes drawn from the lives of decadent artists, doomed bohemians, and continental rascals inhabiting a shabby London hotel, narrated in turns by the unforgettable Lawrence Lucifer and Gregory Death. Together, these characters seek to escape the absurdity of a Europe haunted by devastating war, yet beginning to pitch toward another apocalypse. First published in 1938, and influenced by Henry Miller and the sincere pranksterism of the surrealist movement, The Black Book marks the emergence of one of the most revolutionary voices in twentieth-century English literature.This ebook contains a new introduction by DBC Pierre.
Who will survive the Labyrinth of Crete?A group of English cruise-ship tourists debark to visit the isle of Crete's famed labyrinth, the City in the Rock. The motley gathering includes a painter, a poet, a soldier, an elderly married couple, a medium, a convalescent girl, and the mysterious Lord Gracean. The group is prepared for a trifling day of sightseeing and maybe even a glimpse of the legendary Minotaur, but instead is suddenly stuck in a nightmare when a rockslide traps them deep within the labyrinth. Who among the passengers will make it out alive? And for those who emerge, will anything ever be the same?
A British secret agent on a dangerous mission to solve a fellow spy's murderAfter some especially taxing missions, seasoned secret agent Methuen wants nothing more than to take a long, relaxing fishing trip. But after a fellow British spy is killed in the remote mountains of Serbia, Methuen is called back into action. What follows is a suspenseful tale of espionage told with Lawrence Durrell's characteristic panache. Methuen sets up camp in the Serbian countryside and baits his hooks, hoping to draw out the men responsible for the murder. It's not long before Methuen realizes that he's in a fight for his own life against an unknown opponent. Are his true enemies the Communists, the royalist rebel White Eagles . . . or someone more sinister?
A scientist discovers that his famous invention leads to a dangerous outcomeFelix Charlock's scientific genius is unrivaledand so is his very special invention. So special, in fact, that a shadowy and enigmatic international firm, called Merlin, recruits Felix and marries him into the family. He is betrothed to the erratic Merlin heiress, Benedicta, and given access to an inexhaustible fortune. Yet he longs to be free of the psychological and scientific toll the mysterious firm inflicts. The inscrutable Merlin is always one step ahead, and twists and turns ensue in this tale of sexual and moral intrigue that leaves Felix's futureand his sanityon uncertain ground.
Will a desperate scientist's mastery of technology save himor be his undoing? The ominous and compelling sequel to Durrell's Tunc finds gifted inventor Felix Charlock called upon by the sinister international firm, Merlin, to apply his scientific prowess to a seemingly impossible project. He must literally reinvent his lost lover, Iolanthe, in the form of a living, breathing replica. Merlin's dark project leads Felix on a fantastic undertaking. In recreating his former love, Felix knows that he will either find what he had thought lost, or the technologyhis very life's bloodwill be the end of him.
Durrell's remarkable memoir of his spiritual journey with famed Taoist philosopher Jolan ChangBeginning with their first meeting over lunch at Lawrence Durrell's Provencal home, Durrell and Jolan Changrenowned Taoist philosopher and expert on Eastern sexualitydeveloped an enduring relationship based on mutual spiritual exploration. Durrell's autobiographical rumination on their friendship and on Taoism recounts the author's existential ponderings, starting with his introduction to the mystical and enigmatic ';smile in the mind's eye.' From parsimony, cooking, and yoga to poetry, Petrarch, and Nietzche, A Smile in the Mind's Eye is a charming tale of a writer's spiritual and philosophical awakening.
In this boisterous story collection, mischief abounds in the quiet corners of the British Empire on which the sun never setsAs the overseer of the kitchen at the British embassy in Vulgaria, De Mandeville has begun to abuse his power. He subjects the King's guests to a blistering Madras curry, a French onion soup served without spoons, and a table so loaded with vegetation that the party can hardly see the food. But worst of all, he has begun to cook with garlic, that fragrant bulb so beloved by diplomats that it must be banned, lest foul breath cripple the Empire. De Mandeville is due for comeuppance, and no breath mint can save him now.';If Garlic Be the Food of Love' is only the first story in this invaluable peek at life in British diplomatic circles. After the ninth, the reader will wonder not how the British Empire came apart, but how De Mandeville, Polk-Mowbray, and the King's other dips ever got it started in the first place.
The finest of Lawrence Durrell's classic short stories of diplomatic mischiefDark is the day when culture comes to Sczbog. The capital of Vulgaria, nestled snugly behind the Iron Curtain, has long been devoid of higher thought, and that is the way the men in the British embassy like it. But when the French embassy gives a lecture on literature, it ignites a chain reaction of unwanted cultural exchange, subjecting the King's men to endless nights of Dutch poetry, Japanese theater, and Swiss yodeling. Extricating themselves from this high-minded mess will take a miracle of a most unpolitic kind.This is a typical incident in the long and colorful career of Antrobus, diplomat in his Majesty's service. In these pages, he confronts waltzing ambassadors, half-mad press secretaries, and a gruesome Kurdish circumcision. Through it all, he and his men stay calm, knowing that the surest way to cause a diplomatic incident is to make the mistake of attempting diplomacy.
For the British delegation to Vulgaria, no problem is too small to become a crisis in this lively story collection of diplomatic misadventureIn the words of Antrobus, master diplomat in the King's service, diplomacy was once ';a quiet and restful trade carried on in soothing inanity among a hundred shady legations and embassies all over the globe.' What changed? What caused this most noble profession to fall from grace? Women, of course. A diplomatic incident begins brewing as soon as the lovely new French ambassadoror is it ambassadress?arrives in Vulgaria. One of the British delegation is instantly besotted, and about to begin his pursuit when a rival appears in the form of roguish Italian diplomat Bonzo di Porco. Because these are servants of the most advanced governments in the world, they settle their dispute rationally: with swords.Jealousy, selfishness, swordplay? All are commonplace in Antrobus's embassy. In these nine juicy tales, the King's diplomats may seldom be diplomatic, but they always manage to get the job donewith or without bloodshed.
Eleven charming, delicate sketches of diplomatic life in service of the crown After decades spent representing Britain around the globe, Antrobus has earned a shirtful of medals and the right to pass afternoons in his London club, musing over old times. His memory is long, and every old embarrassment still ranklesno matter how ridiculous. The incident with the Yugoslav ghost train, for instance, still causes him to clench his fists in fear. When he speaks of Sir Claud Polk-Mowbray, he takes pains to lower his voicelest an American hear. And his stomach has never recovered from the incident involving the fried flag. Based on Lawrence Durrell's own experience in the diplomatic corps, Antrobus's cutting observation is drawn from the strange and humorous truth. Few are those with a better sense of place than Durrell, and even fewer with wit to match.
The definitive collection of travel writings by one of the twentieth century's best-loved journeyersFrom the moment of his birth, Lawrence Durrell was far from home. A British child in India, he was sent to England to receive an education, and by his early twenties had already tired of his native land. With family in tow, he departed for Greece, and spent the rest of his life wandering the world. He traveled not to sightsee but to live, and made homes in Egypt, France, Yugoslavia, and Argentina. Each time he landed, he rooted himself deep into the native soil, taking in not just the sights and sounds of his new land, but the essential character of the country.In these letters and essays, Durrell exhibits the power of poetic observation that made his travel writing so extraordinary to postWorld War II readers. In these pages he reminds us not just of each country's hidden charms, but of the unique characteristics that persist through the generations.
On a Mediterranean island divided, a man finds peace in a time of perilous unrest in this stunning memoirIn 1953, as the British Empire relaxes its grip upon the world, the island of Cyprus bucks for independence. Some cry for union with Athens, others for an arrangement that would split the island down the middle, giving half to the Greeks and the rest to the Turks. For centuries, the battle for the Mediterranean has been fought on this tiny spit of land, and now Cyprus threatens to rip itself in half.Into this escalating conflict steps Lawrence Durrellpoet, novelist, and a former British government official. After years serving the Crown in the Balkans, he yearns for a return to the island lifestyle of his youth. With humor, grace, and passable Greek, Durrell buys a house, secures a job, and settles in for quiet living, happy to put up his feet until the natives begin to consider wringing his neck. More than a travel memoir, this is an elegant picture of island life in a changing world.
A pair of lectures from one of the twentieth century's most mesmerizing speakersLawrence Durrell was in his early twenties when, tired of the stiffness of London life, he took his family to live in Corfu. Interwar Greece, whose hard beds and mosquito swarms Durrell documented so tenderly in Prospero's Cell, was no more. In the first of this pair of lectures, given during a 1970s visit to California, Durrell recalls those days, talking of family, poetry, and the joy of the islands as no other writer can.When war came to the Mediterranean, Durrell was swept into diplomatic service, an adventure he recounts in his second lecture. Though a diplomat of the modern world, he served under men whose experience stretched back to the days before the telephone, when solutions for crises had to be devised by the ambassador, and not phoned in from London. These two lectures on long-vanished worlds are an elegant demonstration of the evocative power of Durrell's unmatched storytelling.
Notes on travel from the Mediterranean's sharpest observerFew men have traveled as wisely as Lawrence Durrell. Born in India, he lived in Corfu as a young man, enjoying salt air, cobalt water, and an unfettered bohemian lifestyle. Over the following decades, he rambled around the Mediterranean, making homes in Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece. Each time he moved, he asked himself why he felt compelled to travel. In this book, he gives his answer.Durrell knew that the wise traveler looks not for pleasure, education, or landmarks, but is hungry for a sense of placethe element of a landscape, city, or nation that makes its people who they are. In this anthology, passages from Durrell's classic Mediterranean writings are paired with observations on other lands. His writing is poetic, lush, and achingly clear, for this was a man who truly saw the world.
With keen wit and astute observation, Lawrence Durrell introduces the world to a remarkable Greek isle that few outsiders have ever knownIn the years before World War II, the tourist's eye seldom strayed farther east than Italy. But as the fashionable set enjoyed its Roman holidays, Lawrence Durrell settled on Corfu, an island jewel with beauty to match the long and fascinating history within its rocky shores. For four years, he fished, drank, and lived with the natives, sheltered from the tumult that was engulfing Europe, until finally he could ignore the world no longer. Durrell left for Alexandria, to serve his country as a wartime diplomat, but never forgot the wonders of Corfu.With a poet's grace, Durrell turned his attention to the country that had made him so happy. The result was Prospero's Cell, a slim volume of endless depths. Like the blue Aegean, Durrell's book is crystal clear, giving the reader a perfect view straight to the heart of a nation.
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