From the visionary author of the Alexandria Quartet comes a landmark five-part series hailed by the Sunday Times as "one of the great novels of our time."
One of the most celebrated English writers ever, Lawrence Durrell was a bestselling author whose vivid metafictions pushed the boundaries of modern literature. The cosmopolitan provocateur transcended borders, ideologies, and time in his work, and he's at the height of his powers in the Avignon Quintet.
More formally daring than the Alexandria Quartet, these sweeping and stylish novels set before, during, and after World War II loosely center on the race to uncover a treasure buried by the Knights Templar. Each reveals a seemingly disparate piece of the puzzle. In Monsieur, it's the bittersweet return to southern France by a British doctor; in Livia, it's two sisters driven apart by the rise of Nazism in Europe. In Constance, a Freudian analyst struggles for clarity in a world on fire; in Sebastian, she reconnects with the charismatic cult leader she knew in the deserts of Egypt. And in Quinx, long-buried plots reemerge as the past and future are funneled into the present.
Durrell himself described the Avignon Quintet as a "quincunx," a series of novels "roped together like climbers on a rockface, but all independent." Together they form a powerful meditation on the search for meaning in a world of chaos and brutality.
Lawrence Durrell was born in 1912 in India. He attended the Jesuit College at Darjeeling and St Edmund's School, Canterbury. His first literary work, The Black Book, appeared in Paris in 1938. His first collection of poems, A Private Country, was published in 1943, followed by the three Island books: Prospero's Cell, Reflections on a Marine Venus, about Rhodes, and Bitter Lemons, his account of life in Cyprus. Durrell's wartime sojourn in Egypt led to his masterpiece, The Alexandria Quartet, which he completed in southern France where he settled permanently in 1957. Between the Quartet and The Avignon Quintet he wrote the two-decker Tunc and Nunquam. His oeuvre includes plays, a book of criticism, translations, travel writing, and humorous stories about the diplomatic corps. Caesar's Vast Ghost, his reflections on the history and culture of Provence, including a late flowering of poems, appeared a few days before his death in Sommieres in 1990.