Lawrence Durrell Bibliography: Novels
Below is a list of novels by Lawrence Durrell. For his other works, see the menu on the right.
The Avignon Quintet
(Monsieur, Livia, Constance, Sebastian, Quinx)
Lawrence Durrell's last full-length fiction, The Avignon Quintet is an attempt to take some of the themes of The Alexandria Quartet, along with new ideas, and develop them further. Although it's published as a 'Quintet', Durrell himself referred to is as a 'quincunx', an arrangement of five objects to form a square, with one in the middle (think of the five-spot on a die). Although the Quintet contains some passages of remarkable writing, and an (at least partial) exploration of some interesting ideas, it's uneven and some reviewers have pointed to errors in the story's continuity. Given the structure of the book, it's hard to tell whether these are intentional or just the result of an accomplished author reaching a little too far with his structural ideas.
The Revolt of Aphrodite
Tunc and Nunquam, the two novels that make up The Revolt of Aphrodite, tell the story of Felix Charlock, a talented inventor who is caught up in the machinations of a mysterious firm. A departure from the dreamlike elegance of The Alexandria Quartet, The Revolt of Aphrodite is probably Durrell's most criticized work. (A New York Times review in 1968 began, "Some people cannot wait for an author, especially such a celebrated author, to fall on his face. They will delight maliciously in Tunc...".)
The Alexandria Quartet
(Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea)
The Alexandria Quartet is arguably Lawrence Durrell's finest work, an exploration of modern love utilizing Einsteinian notions of time and Freudian ideas about the fluidity of identity. However, while these themes provide the structure of the Quartet, they run comfortably in the background of the story, which is most notable for its rich and memorable characters and the beauty and eloquence of the prose.
White Eagles Over Serbia
In 1949, Durrell was sent to Yugoslavia as a press attaché. Conditions were unpleasant and Durrell was unhappy there, but the experience provided material for his Antrobus stories and for White Eagles Over Serbia, an adventure story for younger readers.
Cefalü / The Dark Labyrinth
As Cefalü 1947, as The Dark Labyrinth 1958
Originally published as Cefalü, The Dark Labyrinth tells the story of a group of travellers who become lost in an underground labyrinth on Crete, a labyrinth which may or may not still be inhabited by the minotaur. The story unfolds with a peculiar blend of allegory and symbolism, which some readers have rejected as being too uneven. However, although it may be one of Durrell's more minor works, it's certainly an interesting one.
The Black Book
1938 in Paris, 1973 in the UK
Lawrence Durrell has said of The Black Book that "in the writing of it, I first heard the sound of my own voice." It was published originally in Paris by the Olypmia Press, as part of a series of books arranged by Durrell and Henry Miller (which also included Miller's Max and the White Phargocytes). Due to its obscenity, Faber were unable to publsh the book in the UK although TS Eliot wrote that it was "the first piece of work by a new English writer to give me any hope for the future of prose fiction." Faber finally printed a UK edition in 1973.
1937, under the pseudonym Charles Norden
Panic Spring is the story of a wealthy and solitary Greek who owns a Greek island. To combat his solitude, he invites strangers to stay in his private villas... Panic Spring features several recurring characters from Pied Piper of Lovers and like that book, it was not reprinted and was only available for a long time as excerpts in Spirit of Place. Finally, in 2008, Panic Spring was reprinted in Canada by ELS Editions.
You may be able to find original (and valuable) copies of Panic Spring for sale at AbeBooks.
Pied Piper of Lovers
Durrell's first novel, Pied Piper of Lovers, was published in the UK by Cassell & Co. The dust-jacket was designed by Durrell's wife Nancy. It sold few copies, and most of the remaining copies were destroyed in the London blitz. Pied Piper of Lovers was never reprinted, but a sizeable excerpt appears in the anthology Spirit of Place, in which editor Alan Thomas also describes the novel as "a somewhat "prentice" effort with no great intimation of what was to come."
Like Panic Spring, Pied Piper of Lovers was finally reprinted in 2008 in Canada by ELS Editions.