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    Lawrence Durrell Links

    "You have two birth-places. You have the place where you were really born and then you have a place of predilection where you really wake up to reality." Lawrence Durrell-- Blue Thirst

    Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) was one of the greatest novelists of the twentieth century. He called his most famous work, The Alexandria Quartet, "an investigation of modern love" and in it sought to fuse Western notions of time and space with Eastern metaphysics. Born in India, Durrell
    lived in and celebrated the Mediterranean world, not only as a novelist but also as an acclaimed poet, travel writer, essayist, dramatist, and

    Lawrence Durrell's goal in writing is to "sum up in a sort of metaphor the cosmology of a particular moment in which we are living." He is a metaphysical writer who, through his characters, asks philosophical questions such as, What is the nature of reality? How does the artist describe it
    in words? What is the right way to live as an artist and as a human being?

    Drawing on these childhood memories and his readings in contemporary physics, Durrell claims that the cosmology of the mid-twentieth century can
    be found in a blend of Western physics with Eastern metaphysics, which he says "are coming to a point of continence." These notions are explained in A
    Key to Modern British Poetry, which Durrell published in 1952.

    In A Key to Modern British Poetry, Durrell begins by looking at Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, whom he calls the two major architects of modem
    Western consciousness. Einstein is significant because he "torpedoed the old Victorian material universe" and Freud because he "torpedoed the idea
    of the stable ego." The discoveries of Einstein and Freud, occurring at nearly the same time period, unlocked the secrets of the "universe outside man,
    and the universe inside." Einstein, and the physicists who followed him, in exploring the universe outside humankind discarded the notion
    that the smallest unit of matter is the particle.

    They proved, instead, that "particles" sometimes are better thought of as waves. Durrell translates this discovery into human terms: At times people
    are conscious of themselves as individuals, but if they accept the fact of the continuum that exists in the melding of time and space, then people "may
    perhaps form ingredients of a single continuous stream of life."

    In Durrell's view, Freud's discovery of the universe inside humankind parallels Einstein's investigations into the world outside. Studying hysterics in the 1890's, Freud noticed how under hypnosis they were able to recall painful
    experiences of which their waking, conscious minds were unaware. Freud hypothesized that there was an area of the mind beyond consciousness; he called it the unconscious, and, according to Durrell, that is "how the idea of the splitting of the psyche first started." Durrell, like D. H. Lawrence before him, rejected "the old stable ego of character" in favor of characterization that is more amorphous and ambiguous. As Balthazar in The Alexandria Quartet says: "Each psyche is really an ant-hill of opposing predispositions. Personality as something with fixed attributes is an illusion."

    If space and time are relative and the human personality is not fixed, the cosmology of the age needs to reflect these uncertainties. The closest
    equivalent philosophical system, in Durrell's view, can be found in Eastern philosophies. According to Buddhism, once the ego stops its selfish cravings,
    it enters a state of oneness with the universe. Durrell calls this state a "field," which is the spiritual equivalent of the field concept in physics. Durrell believes that the unity and interrelatedness of matter in the physical world can be applied to the spiritual realm as well:

    "Phenomena may be individuals carrying on separate existences in space and time, but in the deeper reality beyond space and time we may be all members
    of one body." Durrell has a name for this deeper reality; he calls it the Heraldic Reality.

    (and here is some bad press in the link as a whole)

    (but here is a bit of praise):

    The gift of poetry is gradually sublimated in a sensual, vivacious and self-conscious, but ultimately grand, prose style that is no mere vehicle the real hero of the book, rather than Darley or Justine or the city of Alexandria.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clea Ch. 8
    So the year turned on its heel, through a winter of racing winds, frosts keener than grief, hardly preparing us for that last magnificent summer which followed the spring so swiftly. It came curving in, this summer, as if from some long-forgotten latitude first dreamed of in Eden, miraculously rediscovered among the slumbering thoughts of mankind. It rode down upon us like some famous snow-ship of the mind, to drop anchor before the city, its white wings folding like the wings of a seabird. (p. 827)

    Some biography and Durrell's poetry:
    Last edited by Sitaram; 01-28-2005 at 05:48 PM. Reason: Addendum

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