The Avignon Quintet

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Faber & Faber, 1992 - Engelse fiksie - 1367 pages
18 Reviews
This is the one-volume edition of five novels in a kaleidoscopic sequence first published between 1974 and 1985. The Avignon Quintet is an achievement comparable to Durrell's masterpiece The Alexandria Quartet, with which it has subtle affiliations. Avignon and the ancient kingdom of Provence take the place of Alexandria and the eastern Mediterranean, although significant episodes in the five books are set in the Egyptian desert, Venice, Paris, Vienna and Geneva. In one of the books, Constance, there is a memorable picture of life in southern France under the Nazi occupation. Durrell's prime themes of 'fiction' and 'reality' are shuffled and intercut with those of human identity and sexuality, Freud, the cult of the Gnostics, the heresy of the Templars and their missing treasure, and other bizarre and extraordinary matters - all rendered with great ingenuity and ribald humour by a supreme descriptive writer and novelist.

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Review: The Avignon Quintet: Monsieur, Livia, Constance, Sebastian and Quinx (The Avignon Quintet #1-5)

User Review  - Lynne King - Goodreads

This actually comprised books which I have. His style of writing has changed somewhat; it is far more complex but still utterly fascinating. Read full review

Review: The Avignon Quintet: Monsieur, Livia, Constance, Sebastian and Quinx (The Avignon Quintet #1-5)

User Review  - Goodreads

This actually comprised books which I have. His style of writing has changed somewhat; it is far more complex but still utterly fascinating. Read full review

About the author (1992)

A prolific and protean writer since the early 1930s, Durrell led a life as rich and varied as his writings. Born of Anglo-Irish parents in Himalayan India, Durrell attended school in England but spent most of his life abroad. Along with numerous odd jobs, he taught at the English Institute in Athens and at the Greek gymnasium on Cyprus; edited a witty and avant-garde magazine in Paris; founded and edited several poetry magazines; worked as press attache in Egypt and Yugoslavia; and lectured for the British Council in Argentina. The popular success of The Alexandria Quartet (1957-60) enabled him to live solely by writing. Durrell's first important work, The Black Book (1938), was greeted by T.S. Eliot as "the first piece of work by a new English writer to give me any hope for the future of prose fiction." In it, Durrell has said, "I first heard the sound of my own voice. . . . This is an experience no artist ever forgets." Appropriately, The Black Book was unavailable until 1962 in the English-speaking world that it attacked as smug, decadent, and cold. Durrell's fiction includes two apprentice novels, Pied Piper of Lovers (1935) and Panic Spring (1937); a psychological mystery set on Crete, The Dark Labyrinth (1947); The Revolt of Aphrodite (1974); and The Avignon Quintet (1974-85). Aphrodite, a not wholly successful satire of science fiction, Gothic romance, and business expose novels, concerns a young inventor's misadventures with modern technology and love. He is constrained to create an exact "living" replica of a beautiful, deceased Greek actress, but the machine, the perfect illusion, commits suicide rather than inhabit the world's harsh reality. The subject of much controversy, The Alexandria Quartet, is Durrell's major achievement. The Avignon Quintet shares the Quartet's aesthetic and thematic concerns. One of its narrators tells us that a quincunx is a form bearing mystical meaning derived from the pattern of trees in "an ancient Greek temple grove"---one at each corner of a square and one at the center. The mysticism expresses ancient Gnostic beliefs and relates to the Knights Templar (about whom one of the characters is writing a history), who were destroyed in the early fourteenth century but supposedly left a vast treasure buried at the quincunx's center. All of the characters, who are less vividly conceived than their Quartet counterparts, seek some metaphysical treasure or another. Durrell's other writings include three verse plays with ancient settings, a dozen books of poetry, including his Collected Poems (1956), five island books (the best of which, Bitter Lemons, 1959, won the Duff Cooper Prize), and several collections of "Sketches from Diplomatic Life.

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