Lawrence Durrell, and the Alexandria Quartet: Art for Love's Sake

Lawrence Durrell, and the Alexandria Quartet: Art for Love's Sake

Lawrence Durrell, and the Alexandria Quartet: Art for Love's Sake

Lawrence Durrell, and the Alexandria Quartet: Art for Love's Sake

Excerpt

With the publication of The Alexandria Quartet in the late 1950's, Lawrence Durrell, a prolific writer since the mid-1930's suddenly achieved both commercial success and serious critical consideration. Despite its anomalous nature, such Janus-faced attention is not really surprising; for the world of Durrell's writing is something various and new, rich yet firm, as soaring and mundane as mountains or cities. It is a heady brew of poetry and prose to be imbibed in great rapid bursts of taste—and one falls invariably into purple passages in attempting to convey its flavor. It is, at the same time, the substantial fare of a major craftsman.

Durrell takes his place—with Proust, the early Joyce and Lawrence, Henry Miller—within the tradition of artist as autobiographer, as transmuter of transient personal experience into the mold of permanence. His life has been a kaleidoscopic pattern of jobs and places, of being press officer, public relations official, editor, teacher, lecturer on British poetry, and in such unlikely places as Athens, Cairo, Alexandria, Rhodes, Argentina, Yugoslavia, Cyprus. And no place he has resided in or visited, no job he has performed, no per-

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