Lawrence Durrell Bibliography - Travel Books
Below is a list of Lawrence Durrell's travel books. For his other work, see the menu on the right.
The Lawrence Durrell Travel Reader
The Lawrence Durrell Travel Reader is a recent collection of excerpts from several of Durrell's travel books, and is most notable for its inclusion of excerpts from the currently out-of-print Sicilian Carousel.
Caesar's Vast Ghost: Aspects of Provence
Although Durrell is most associated with Greece, he spent a large proportion of his life living in the Midi. Caesar's Vast Ghost, published on the year of his death, is his major work on the area, along with several essays collected in the anthology Spirit of Place.
The Greek Islands
Originally conceived as a picture book, the current paperback edition of The Greek Islands is a compendium of notes and short essays on its subject. Although lacking the cohesiveness of Durrell's other travel books, there are still plenty of gems in The Greek Islands. However, for all its scope it is probably the slightest of his works of Greece.
Although Durrell spent much of his life around the Mediterranean, he wrote relatively little about Italy; it was always somewhere that he was passing through on the way to somewhere else. Sicilian Carousel is his only piece of extended writing on the country and, naturally enough for the islomaniac Durrell, it focuses on one of Italy's islands. Sicilian Carousel came relatively late in Durrell's career, and is based around a slightly fictionalized bus tour of the island. It's currently out of print, but while you can't find it in the shops, it's recent enough that there are plenty of copies available through Amazon Marketplace or Abebooks.
The hardest to find of Durrell's travel books, Blue Thirst is a collection of two lectures that he gave during a visit to the USA. The first is a reminscence of being a young writer in Greece, the second is about his time in the diplomatic corps. Secondhand copies are readily available.
Spirit of Place
While not techinically a travel book, the 1969 anthology Spirit of Place is preoccupied with Durrell's ability to bring his surroundings to life. As well as essays and letters, highlights of this excellent collection include a couple of rare (and brief) visits to Italy, and excerpts from Durrell's first two novels, Pied Piper of Lovers and Panic Spring, both of which are now long out of print.
Bitter Lemons / Bitter Lemons of Cyprus
Bitter Lemons (later renamed Bitter Lemons of Cyprus) was one of the books, along with The Alexandria Quartet, that made a success of Durrell. He was working as a British press attaché on Cyprus at the time when the move for unification with Greece ("ENOSIS") was beginning to take off. Bitter Lemons is Durrell's entertaining and sometimes alarming memoir of the time that he spent on the island. It was a timely publication, when there was a great deal of press attention on what was taking place on Cyprus.
Reflections on a Marine Venus
Following the Second World was, the Dodecanese islands were governed by the British for some time before being returned to the Greeks. Durrell was appointed the Public Information Officer for the island. Reflections on a Marine Venus is a beautifully written memoir of Rhodes, where Durrell was stationed and where he ran newspapers in three languages. It is a fine companion piece to Bitter Lemons, as well as standing in its own right.
Prospero's Cell: A Guide to the Landscape and Manners of the Island of Corcyra
In Prospero's Cell Lawrence Durrell talks about the island with which he and his brother Gerald are perhaps most readily accociated: Corfu (also known as Corcyra). The title takes its name from the notion that the island in Shakespeare's The Tempest is based on Corfu.