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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.
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 the Second World War over, a weary Durrell seeks peace on an ancient isleIslomania is a disease not yet classified by Western science, but to those afflicted its symptoms are all too recognizable. Men like Lawrence Durrell are struck by a powerful need to live on the ancient islands of the Mediterranean, where the clear blue Aegean is always within reach. After four tortuous wartime years in Egypt, Durrell finds a post on the island of Rhodes, where the British are attempting to return Greece to the sleepy peace it enjoyed in the '30s. From his first morning, when a dip in the frigid sea jolts him awake for what feels like the first time in years, Durrell breathes in the fullest joys of island life, meeting villagers, eating exotic food, and throwing back endless bottles of ouzo, as though the war had never happened at all. The charms of his stay there still resonate today, for the pleasures of Greece are older than history itself.
Lawrence Durrell's complete Alexandria Quarteta story of passion and betrayal that stands as one of the most acclaimed and beloved works of twentieth-century fictionThe Alexandria Quartetis a striking and sensuous masterpiece, breathing vivid life into each of its unforgettable characters and the dusty Mediterranean city in which they live. Set in Alexandria, Egypt, in the years before, during, and after World War II, the books follow the lives of a circle of friends and lovers, including sensitive Darley, passionate Justine, philosophical Balthazar, and elegant Clea. Written in Durrell's trademark evocative prose, these four novels explore the central theme of modern love, building into a remarkable whole that the New York Times hailedas ';one of the most important works of our time.'This ebook features a new introduction by Jan Morris.
The complete Avignon Quintet, hailed by the Sunday Times as ';one of the great novels of our time'Published between 1974 and1985, the five books that make up theAvignon Quintetare another monumental achievement by one of the most inventive and acclaimed novelists of the twentieth century. Beginning in the years leading up to the Second World War and ending in the years just after it, the characters of Durrell's timeless series travel from France to Egypt to England to Switzerland, encountering irrepressible political and spiritual forces that sweep their lives toward an enthralling and unexpected conclusion.Masterfully written and richly layered, the Avignon Quintetis an unforgettable work of fiction, and a powerful ode to the search for meaning amid life's most tumultuous moments.
In this new selection from the poetry of Lawrence Durrell (the first for thirty years), Peter Porter has drawn on the full range of the published work, from A Private Country (1943) to Vega (1973), and has provided a long overdue revaluation of Durrell's poetic career. In his detailed and generous introduction, Porter makes the case for A Private Country as one of the most accomplished debut collections of the twentieth century, and traces Durrell's preoccupations and poetic personality within the wider scene. The selection of poems makes its own strong case for the continuing power and originality of this attractive, metropolitan and wholly individual body of work.
The Avignon Quintet gathers Lawrence Durrell's five kaleidoscopic, Booker Prize-nominated novels - orbiting around the South of France in World War II - into one epic modern classic, one of 'the greatest novels of our time' (Sunday Times). 'Durrell is a magician. He juggles with glittering words, he conjures up cloud capped towers, gorgeous palaces and solemn temples, he entrances, intrigues and impresses.' The Times Avignon: the kingdom of kings and Popes, capital of the historic South of France, heart of legendary Provence. The entwined lives of a group of friends - and lovers - are transformed forever by the outbreak of World War II. But their dramatic present only plunges them further into the darkness of an ancient past, as they become entangled in buried plots, gnostic cults, religious rituals, and a mysterious hunt for hidden Knight's Templar treasure. From Hitler's Europe to the medieval world, French chateaus to Egyptian deserts, The Avignon Quintet is an epic symphony of ecstasy and terror, madness and memory, passion and death. Consisting of five majestic novels - Monsieur, Livia, Constance, Sebastian and Quinx - it is a wild, wise masterpiece that could only be written by the literary master of his century, Lawrence Durrell. 'Entrancing ... Swooning ... Charged with Durrell's strange magic.' Guardian 'An enigmatic and secretive work, a cluster of dark passages and gaudy treasure-filled caves ... Inventive gusto and fictive extravagance ... Sensational.' London Review of Books 'Splendid ... Reckless all-or-nothing writing.' Sunday Telegraph 'A virtuoso, capable of extraordinary feats.' New York Times 'Pungent and teasing ... There is some insidious power in him that keeps one reading.' Observer What readers are saying: 'As if Proust had written Raiders of the Lost Ark ...Templars, gnostics, handsome princes, asylums, madness, Freudians, southern France, Egypt, ancient tombs, castles, exotica, erotica, incest, ghosts, gypsies, ascetics, spies, Nazis, secret societies, bordellos, feasts, Nubian lesbians, assassins disguised as nuns, literary doppelgangers, convents, hidden treasure, suicide, and art.' 'Mystery, love, incest, war, espionage, gypsies, mysticism, secret rituals: a masterful writer.' 'Magnificent ... An incredible level of writing that should be experienced by everyone who loves modern literature.' 'A masterpiece ... Unlike anything I've ever read.' 'The master at his peak.' 'The writing is spectacular, unlike anything today.' 'Deeply complex, very clever use of language and gripping. Highly recommended.' 'Hairs suddenly rise on the back of the neck ... Read with a glass of wine.'
As every reader of Durrell knows, his writing is steeped in the living experience of the Mediterranean, and especially the islands of Greece. This captivating and highly unusual text, originally conceived as a picture book and now reset in paperback format, weaves together evocative descriptions, history and myth with Durrell's personal reminiscences. No traveller to Greece or admirer of the genius of Durrell should miss it.
Bitter Lemons of Cyprus is Lawrence Durrell's unique account of his time in Cyprus, during the 1950s Enosis movement for freedom of the island from British colonial rule. Winner of the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, it is a document at once personal, poetic and subtly political - a masterly combination of travelogue, memoir and treatise. 'He writes as an artist, as well as a poet; he remembers colour and landscape and the nuances of peasant conversation . . . Eschewing politics, it says more about them than all our leading articles . . . In describing a political tragedy it often has great poetic beauty.' Kingsley Martin, New Statesman 'Durrell possesses exceptional qualifications. He speaks Greek fluently; he has a wide knowledge of modern Greek history, politics and literature; he has lived in continental Greece and has spent many years in other Greek islands . . . His account of this calamity is revelatory, moving and restrained. It is written in the sensitive and muscular prose of which he is so consummate a master.' Harold Nicolson, Observer
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