Lawrence Durrell

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Durrell, Lawrence

(dŭ`rəl, dûr`əl), 1912–90, British author, b. India, of Irish parents. Durrell traveled widely, often serving in diplomatic positions; most of his works are set in exotic locations and convey an extraordinary sense of place. His novel The Black Book (1938) is steeped in an atmosphere of moral decadence. Durrell's masterpiece is The Alexandria Quartet, consisting of Justine (1957), Balthazar (1958), Mountolive (1958), and Clea (1960). Purporting to be a study of the many ramifications of love, the quartet's excellence lies mainly in its technique—its rich, ornamental language, its experiments with point of view, and its evocation of the exotic, frequently bizarre atmosphere of the city of Alexandria, Egypt.

Durrell's later novel sequences include the literary satire of Tunc (1968) and Numquam (1970), and The Avignon Quincunx (1974–85), which brought together his study of southern France and his obsession with multiple perspective. Durrell's diplomatic service is reflected in Bitter Lemons (1957), Esprit de Corps (1958), and Stiff Upper Lip (1959), spoofs of diplomatic life, and in Reflections on a Marine Venus (1953), Prospero's Cell (1960), and Spirit of Place (1969), travel books. Among Durrell's other works are volumes of poetry including The Red Limbo Lingo (1971) and Vega and Other Poems (1973), and the novel Monsieur (1975).


See The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935–80 (1988), ed. by I. S. MacNiven; biographies by G. Bowker (1997) and I. S. MacNiven (1998); studies by J. Unterecker (1965), G. S. Fraser (1968), and R. Pine (1988).

His brother, Gerald Durrell, 1920–95, English conservationist and author, b. Jamshedpur, India, was noted for his pioneering efforts to have zoos participate in the preservation of endangered species through captive breeding programs. He wrote 37 books, most dealing with animals. His charmingly written works include The Overloaded Ark (1953), the autobiographical My Family and Other Animals (1956), and The Aye Aye and I (1993). He also wrote novels and was involved in radio and television.


See biography by D. Botting (1999).

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References in periodicals archive ?
'Alexandria' is a word that is a key, opening up the imagination to a vivid dream that brings the ancient past and the more recent future together: and in that dream parade the Pharos-one of the seven wonders of antiquity-the great library, Alexander the Great, Constantine Cavafy and Lawrence Durrell, to whom the city persists as the Capital of Memory.'
As a final consideration of the kinds of surprises one runs into with Miller, I append this brief passage from the letters between Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, written in March 1939.
In the final chapter, "Rereading and Recasting: Miller, Durrell, Smart, and Duncan," Gifford revisits four major works by the aforementioned authors--The Colossus of Maroussi (Millar), The Black Book (Durrell), By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept (Elizabeth Smart), and "An Ark for Lawrence Durrell" (Duncan)--through this new interpretive lens.
A very wise man called Lawrence Durrell once said, "Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection." Well, it couldn't have been better put.
The works that Hackworth discusses include Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, Lawrence Durrell's 1947 novel, The Dark Labyrinth, Borges's translated collection of short stories titled Labyrinths, and John Barth's Lost in the Funhouse.
Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) and Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) were contemporaries and more importantly, they lived somewhat parallel lives.
A different kind of dissolution appears in the ingenious essay by Silvia Panizza on Lawrence Durrell's The Alexandria Quartet (1957-1960) and on Durrell's contribution to Personal Landscape, a little-known literary magazine founded in Cairo in 1942 by a group of English exiled poets.
British biographer Gordon Bowker has previously regaled readers with the life stories of literary compatriots Lawrence Durrell, Malcolm Lowry, and George Orwell.
Which brings me to Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, and Clea.

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