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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.
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.
First published in Paris in 1938, Durrell's third novel is the story, told from the inside, of the lives and loves of a group of struggling writers and artists in a seedy London hotel. Controversial at the time because of its sexual frankness, the book was finally published in its complete form only through the efforts of Henry Miller.
Rich in invention, psychological truth and sheer entertainment, the five short novels that comprise The Avignon Quintet form one of the key works of an undisputed modern master. 'Another constellation of Mediterranean mysteries and memories. This time it is not Alexandria, but Avignon: the old kingdom of the Popes, the capital of the ancient South of France, the heart of legendary Provence . . . The evocation of all of this is superb . . . Our old guide bleu in vintage form.' The Times
Provence, where Lawrence Durrell lived for thirty years, is the motif of this final work, published just before his death. It is a highly personal and unusual book, part travelogue, part writer's notebook, part autobiography. It preserves memories from his intimate experience of the Midi, and scattered through the evocative text are nineteen poems inspired by the genius of the place. 'A richly characteristic bouillabaisse by our last great garlicky master of the vanishing Mediterranean, our old Prospero of the south; poet, travel writer, novelist and fumiste . . .' Richard Holmes, The Times
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.
This captivating Mediterranean novel was written by Lawrence Durrell immediately after finishing his exquisite vignette about Corfu, Prospero's Cell, and a decade before Justine. The story is set on Crete just after the War, as an odd assortment of English travellers come ashore from a cruise ship to explore the island and in particular to examine a dangerous local labyrinth. They include an extrovert painter, a spiritualist, a Protestant spinster with a fox terrier, an antiquarian peer and minor poet, a soldier with guilty memories of the Cretan resistance, a pretty convalescent and an eccentric married couple. To some extent the book is a roman a clef and Durrell's characters talk with great reality about their experiences, themselves and a certain psychological unease that has led most of them to embark on their journey. The climax is a disastrous visit to the labyrinth, with its reported minotaur. The novel is a gripping piece of story-telling, full of atmosphere and the vivid first-hand writing about Mediterranean landscape and people of which Durrell was a master.
Lawrence Durrell's classic novel Monsieur is set in a dilapidated chateau near Avignon and focuses on a group of characters who have decided to remove themselves from the world. Egypt, France and Venice provide a background for the action, which offers an original interpretation of the so-called sins of the Templars as Durrell depicts his characters caught up in the sinister and mysterious doings of a gnostic suicide club. 'Monsieur contains some of the finest descriptive set-pieces even Durrell has ever written. I would not wish to have missed these evocations of Avignon: of a winter horse-ride through the Provencal countryside; of Christmas in a chateau crumbling into magnificent decay; of a slow dreamlike journey through the Nile.' Susan Hill, The Times
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
A guide to the landscape and manners of the island of Corfu. 'One of Lawrence Durrell's best books - indeed, in its gem-like miniature quality, among the best books ever written.' Freya Stark 'This charming idyll depicts the country life and cosmopolitan society of Corfu in the years immediately before the war . . . The matter of it is as sound as the story is delightful.' Sunday Times 'Corfu, that Ionian island whose idyllic yet blood-stained history goes back the best part of a thousand years, could not have found a fitter chronicler than Mr Durrell. For he is a poet, with all a poet's sensibility, and a humanist to boot, with a keen eye for character and a scholar's reverence for antiquity.' Daily Telegraph
In his hugely popular Prospero's Cell, Lawrence Durrell brought Corfu to life, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to the island. With Reflections on a Marine Venus, he turns to Rhodes: ranging over its past and present, touching with wit and insights on the history and myth which the landscape embodies, and presenting some real and some imagined. With the same wit, tenderness and poetic insight that characterized Prospero's Cell, Reflections on a Marine Venus is an excellent introduction the Eastern Mediterranean. 'How pleasant . . . to meet Mr Durrell, gloating over his enjoyment of a Greek island! . . . He excites a longing to leave for Rhodes at once.' Raymond Mortimer
In 1935, Lawrence Durrell, a young Englishman living on Corfu, wrote enthusiastically to a middle-aged Brooklynite - Henry Miller - of his just published novel Tropic of Cancer. Miller felt that he had found his ideal reader and responded, thus beginning a correspondence that lasted 45 years.
Balthazar, is the second volume of Durrell's The Alexandria Quartet, set in Alexandria, Egypt, during the 1940s. The events of each lush and sensuous novel are seen through the eyes of the central character L.G. Darley, who observes the interactions of his lovers, friends, and acquaintances. Balthazar, named for Darley's friend, a doctor and mystic, interprets Darley's views from a philosophical and intellectual viewpoint.
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