The letters of Lawrence Durrell to Kostan [Constant] Zarian, 1937-1951

The DLC has recently acquired a copy of Varian Matiossian’s “Kostan Zarian and Lawrence Durrell: a correspondence”, published by the Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies (volume 8, 1995). This hard-to-find article reproduces twenty-five letters from Durrell to Zarian, dating from 1937 to 1951. Durrell met Zarian while they were both living in Corfu, and struck up a friendship. Zarian (1885-1969) was an established writer, while Durrell (at that time in his mid-twenties) was a fledgeling novelist and poet, with Pied Piper of Lovers (1935) and some privately-published poems to his credit and his second novel, Panic Spring, about to appear.

Zarian is mentioned several times in Durrell’s Prospero’s Cell. He was, with Durrell, Count Constantine Palatianos and Theodore Stephanides, a founder of the “Ionian Banquets” at the “Perdika [or Partridge]” taverna in Corfu town, described by Stephanides in his memoirs Autumn Gleanings (published by the Durrell School of Corfu in 2011). Stephanides records that “Mr Zarian had constituted himself master-of-the-ceremonies” in which capacity “he had composed a very special ceremony” for the admission of new members – in which Stephanides suspected that Durrell had also played a part.

The correspondence began after Zarian had left Corfu for Vienna because, as Matiossian tells us, “its bad climate affected his health”. Zarian wrote to his compatriot Hamastegh “Corfu is beautiful and cheap, but wet and treacherous”.

Matiossian’s brief account of Durrell’s movements after Corfu is erroneous in several respects, but his biographical details about Zarian must be taken as reliable (he is the author of “A traveller and his many roads”, a biography of Zarian – Ararat XXXV, 1994).

Durrell and Zarian met once again, in Ischia, where the latter was living from 1948 after returning from the USA. Matiossian tells us that “this encounter became the main subject for a semi-fictional novella by Zarian, The Island and a Man (published serially in 1955 and as a book in English translation by Ara Baliozian, in 1983). A copy of the French translation, L’Île et un Homme, by Pierre Ter-Sarkissian, is in the DLC. Durrell’s essay on Zarian was published as “Constant Zarian: Triple Exile” in The Poetry Review in 1952.

Although they never met again, Durrell mentioned in a letter to Henry Miller of 1954 that he expected a visit from Zarian in Cyprus (where Durrell was then living); Zarian was proposing “to start a giant international paper in French and English”. It is possible that they did meet in Cyprus in 1954 when Zarian was there en route to Lebanon, but Matiossian tells us “he does not mention Durrell at all in his recently published diary” – Navatomor [Shipbook], Nork’ no.2, 1994.

No extant letters from Zarian to Durrell have come to light. Durrell reckoned that those dating from the Corfu years were lost when he and Nancy left the island. Matiossian speculates that Zarian’s letters to Durrell post-1939 might still be located.

Leo Hamalian (As Others See Us: the Armenian Image in Literature – New York: Ararat Press, 1980) suggests that Zarian acted as Durrell’s “guru” in Corfu. As the more established writer, Zarian certainly impressed Durrell, who addressed him in letters as “Dear Master” and “Dear Arch-Master”.

The letters Durrell-Zarian comprise:

Corfu – 3

Rhodes – 2

Argentina – 4

Bournemouth – 1

Belgrade – 14 (both before and after the Durrells – Lawrence and his second wife, Eve – visited Zarian in Ischia)

Trieste – 1

In the letters written from Corfu, Durrell describes The Black Book, and its publication problems, suggesting that he finished writing the book on his twenty-fifth birthday; the progress of his “Hamlet” essay (New English Weekly 1937) which, he says, “is reprinted in America [and] France”; and the putative sale of Panic Spring (“the Corfu romance”) to an American publisher.

Durrell’s admiration for Miller’s Tropic of Cancer is well-known, especially its iconoclastic spirit. In a letter to Zarian, Durrell puts himself in the same bracket, describing The Black Book as “a complete exposure of the spiritual and mental death of Europe” rather than the more limited notion of “the English Death” with which the book is usually associated.

The letters also discuss a notional-aspirational project, most likely generated in meetings in Corfu, for a self-publishing writers’ co-operative. This in fact became the “Villa Seurat Series” which Durrell, Miller and Anaïs Nin briefly set up in Paris at that time (1937-38); financed with Nancy Durrell’s money, it published (through Jack Kahane’s Obelisk Press) Durrell’s The Black Book, Miller’s max and the White Phagocytes and Nin’s Winter of Artifice.

From Rhodes he tells Zarian that Nancy has divorced him and that he has re-married. He hopes for a posting to France.

From Argentina he writes the type of woes with which we are familiar from his letters to Miller: “this is the very end of deadness”. “I am in the town of Cordoba in the north – supposed to be a charming old university town – my foot! It’s like Milan”. Nevertheless, he hopes for a job with the British Council in Italy, but his heart remains in Greece. He recommends Zarian to live near Beirut and seems to know the geography of Lebanon; “but my dear, it is the Orient, it is the Koranland: one gets so tired of Moslems”.

From Cordoba Durrell mentions the possibility of a holiday in Siena with friends, the Ambron family, who were presumably the owners of the mansion in which Durrell had lived in Alexandria.

Contrary to his hopes, Durrell had to “go before a Foreign Office board” with the result that he was posted to Yugoslavia; again, we have the letters to Miller, Alan Thomas and Theodore Stephanides describing his views of the communist régime. To Zarian he wrote: “Utter despair and destitution – and the smell of slavery and claustrophobia in the air!” “After seeing Metaxas in Greece and Péron in Argentina I find there is no difference at all here”. “Belgrade: this filthy medieval city with its hairy dirty Serbs”.

He writes of the composition of Reflections on a Marine Venus about Rhodes: “where for a short time we had a happy little group of friends – and a life not unlike our Prosperine life on Corfu”. He mentions that a Greek translation of Prospero’s Cell is due to appear, published in Corfu, and reports that George Wilkinson had returned to Corfu.

In July 1951 he tells Zarian that “I managed to get ten days leave in order to be in England when Eve produced a small daughter of a distinctly Chinese cast of countenance who is named provisionally Sappho Jane – don’t ask me why”.

Durrell mentions a duty tour to Bosnia and Montenegro “with a BBC commentator” – an account of this tour would eventually be published in the form of an official report by his colleague John Gibbs (Information Officer in Zagreb) in the Times Literary Supplement (7 August 2009) as “’No bugs or fleas’: a raod trip through Tito’s Yugoslavia” by Lawrence Durrell and John Gibbs.

One of Zarian’s replies (which were sent via the diplomatic bag in London to avoid local censorship in Yugoslavia) was delivered, in error, to the British prime minister rather than the Foreign Office, which caused Durrell some amusement.

The letters from Belgrade are interrupted by the Durrrells’ visit to Ischia in 1950 – leaving on 1 June by Simplon Orient train to Naples. In Ischia, Durrell’s poems Deus Loci were published by Di Maio Vito, and later Durrell would ask Zarian if he could send him “a little packet” of the poems, as “the Americans have just started getting interested in it and I think I could make some dollars”.

On their return journey they stopped at Rome and Venice. In Rome they met Zarian’s son Hovan, a philosopher, with whom Durrell discussed the work of Spengler. Having arrived back in Belgrade, Eve is planning a visit to Egypt in October to see her parents. Durrell describes his The Key to Modern Poetry as “my book on the metaphysics of poetry”.

The correspondence ends with Durrell’s impending departure from Belgrade and the hope of a prolonged reunion in Ischia – which was not to materialise.


IN PADDY’S FOOTSTEPS – Patrick Leigh Fermor Guided Tour, 2017

Following its successful inaugural tour of “Patrick Leigh Fermor’s Greece and Crete” in 2016, the Patrick Leigh Fermor Society has announced a second tour, for 7-19 May 2017.

plf-1PLF’s house at Kardamyli in the Peloponnese

Tour leader Dominic Green has supplied the following information

In Paddy’s Footsteps is a unique journey into Patrick Leigh Fermor’s Greece and Crete. Between 7th and 19th May 2017, a group of no more than twenty travellers will visit major sites in PLF’s life: from his favourite restaurants and hotels, to the homes where he lived and wrote; from Classical monuments to the caves in which the Kreipe kidnappers hid. Our guides will include several Leigh Fermor experts. 

The tour begins in Athens, where we will eat at Tou Psara, where Leigh Fermor and George Katsimbalis often ate. We then travel through Mycenae and Epidavros to Leigh Fermor’s preferred hotel in Nafplion. From there, we visit the Ghika house at Hydra, where much of Mani was written, and the mill at Lemonodassos where Leigh Fermor lived in 1935-36. Then, after stopping at Mystras, we will visit Leigh Fermor’s house at Kardamyli and explore the Mani. Next, we travel to Crete where, after visiting Knossos and the Kreipe kidnap site, we will be based at Rethymnon. From there, we shall trace the kidnappers’ journey into the White Mountains, and tour the Resistance sites of the Amari Valley. Our journey ends at the beach at Rodakino, from which the Kreipe party were evacuated in 1944. plf-3The terrace at Kardamyli

* Four-star hotels, air-conditioned private transportation. * Expert speakers and guides, including Chris White (contributing author of ‘Abducting a General’), and Costas Malamakis (former curator, Historical Museum of Crete). * Private visit to Leigh Fermor’s Mani home, guided by his housekeeper Elpida Beloyanni. * Guided tours of the Kreipe abduction site and escape route, and the Resistance sites of the Amari Valley. * Optional tours of the Benaki Museum, the Hadjikyriakos-Ghika House, the town of Chania, and the Samaria Gorge.

* The tour is strictly limited to no more than twenty travellers. 

* Cost: 3000 Euros per head (party of 10-14), 3300 EU (party of 14-20), including Athens-Heraklion flights, all private ground transportation, hotels, breakfasts, 16 lunches or dinners, conference fees, and guide fees.

* To register or request further details, please email


See below (Study Group on The Alexandria Quartet) for Rebecca Fisher’s new blog  “Love in Stereo: Reading The Alexandria Quartet”


See below for a companion translation into Greek of Birds, Beasts and Relatives, the second volume of the “Corfu Trilogy” by Gerald Durrell



Exile and Return – a psychoanalytic study of Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet, Jerusalem: Carmel Publishers Inc.



This inter-disciplinary study of Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) The Alexandria Quartet (1958-1960), will demonstrate the ways in which the author relied and was inspired by Freudian notions of the dream and dream-work as understood by him.

Lawrence Durrell was an avid reader of Freud and his fictional work is saturated with explicit and implicit reference to Freudian ideas. In this tetralogy, Durrell used the concept of the dream as a topographical construct to demonstrate his claim that the human psyche is governed by transcendental forces. Durrell uses various narrative techniques to echo his claim of the multi-layered voice of the author-protagonist, thus re-vibrating and introducing complex notions regarding the cohesiveness of the human self and its authority.

The Alexandria Quartet was Durrell’s claim to fame. When published in the early Sixties, it brought him world critical and financial acclaim, including a nomination to the Nobel Prize for Literature. The success of the tetralogy brought translations to numerous languages (sadly, only the first two volumes were translated to Hebrew so far). The Alexandria Quartet, despite its declining popularity, is still a shining example to the way Freudian thought informed and inspired creative writing during mid-20th Century as well as being informed by the earlier tradition of the Bildungsroman .

The writing of The Alexandria Quartet was more than “just” telling a complex, multi-layered story. Having suffered himself a separation from his family and homeland at the age of 12, Durrell establishes the field of writing as the place where he can find, create and recreate a sense of belonging absent from his personal life. In this sense, The Alexandria Quartet is Durrell’s attempt to reestablish himself as an autonomous and discreet subject, and yet to acknowledge that being a subject infers being related to, and even controlled by, forces beyond his conscious grasp. Thus, dreams and dream-work seem the perfect media for the author to try and exercise his attempt to come to terms with the sense of existential bewilderment and estrangement which has been a driving force in his life. Through the act of writing, he attempts to transform his injury into art.

The essay shows how Durrell uses different readings of the same textual circumstances to show that the notion of Truth is reliant upon the perspective from which it is viewed and told. The structure of the novel is based upon the idea that Truth is a construct based upon unconscious notions.

In addition to demonstrating the way concepts of dream and dream work construct the novel, this study also shows how Durrell uses particular dreams to bring forth the prominent themes of the novel. In the analysis of two major dreams, this study shows how ideas about sexuality plays a major role in the novel. But Durrell is not content to adopt the Freudian notion of the centrality of sexuality in explaining human motivation. Based upon his own experience as an employee of the British Foreign Office during the Forties and Fifties, he constructs a narrative which uses actual political events in Egypt and Palestine in that period, to portray the individual, again, as a pawn in a game whose rules seem to be arbitrary.

The interpretation of the two dreams show the intricate relation between form and content of the dreams but also address the issue of the authorship of the work. Both dreams serve to communicate to the reader what the author figure is supposedly unaware of. Thus, Durrell makes an important statement regarding the question as to who is the author of the text. Which of the many author figures appearing in the work is “responsible” for the text and its veracity? Can anyone make such a claim? Durrell states his position quite subtly. Due to his own ambivalence towards Freud, which in turn can be interpreted as ambivalence towards his own father, he veers away from simplistic and reductive conclusion. The question of the authorship, as well as the question of Truth, remains unresolved on purpose. It is up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what was the “real” story underlying the labyrinthine plots and sub-plots he describes in the beautiful though biased view of pre- WW2 Alexandria.

Beyond the question of truth, The Alexandria Quartet, and its abundance of references to the workings of the unconscious, be it through actual dreams or through dream-like rich metaphoric prose, deals with the protagonist’s quest for meaning in a world which seems to be traumatized both by political upheavals as well as individual sufferings. The dream-work which the tetralogy offers, points towards a remedy – language. It is the power of language both to injure but also to heal. It is the function of writing, so Durrell claims, to transform pain into art. The particular pain that Durrell sought to relieve through the transformative force of sublimitive writing can be described as relating to his severed sense of belonging. Not being a citizen of any particular nation, as Durrell was, his protagonist becomes a citizen of his own consciousness. Through his existential efforts to make sense of himself, and his world, he is an example of modern man. No longer able to put his trust in the Old World security, shattered by two World Wars, he turns inwards, seeking to define himself through the terms Freudian thought has provided.


Auletris is published by Sky Blue Press. Price Stg8.20 Kindle Stg5.18

Auletris is a recently discovered, previously lost collection of erotica by Anais Nin, consisting of two major sections: “Life in Provincetown” and “Marcel.” A drastically cut version of “Marcel” appears in Nin’s bestselling Delta of Venus, and “Life in Provincetown” has never been published until now. Written in the early 1940s for a collector at a dollar a page, the erotica was also given to agents to sell far and wide. Auletris was sold to Milton Lubovitsky in 1950; Lubovitsky typed up five copies and sold them under the imprint of Press of the Sunken Eye to private buyers under the table. One of these copies surfaced when it was being offered in an auction, and it was then discovered that this collection had been lost to the public for decades. Once the authorship was verified, it was readied for true publication. “Life in Provincetown” is a collection of interwoven stories set in one of Nin’s favorite haunts and is populated with bohemian characters who engage in tabooed sexual behavior, all described in Nin’s classic poetic prose. “Marcel” is another set of stories set mostly in Paris and is largely autobiographical, with many of the characters and situations taken directly from Nin’s diaries. It is three times longer than the version in Delta of Venus and contains many lengthy passages, stories even, that were cut and never before published. Auletris is the first new Anais Nin collection of erotica since Little Birds in 1979.

Following its listing on Amazon, it disappeared from the catalogue.
Paul Herron of Sky Blue Press tells us: “Anais Nin’s erotica collection Auletris was put
into what is known in the industry as Amazon’s “adult content dungeon,”
which essentially makes a book unsearchable. There is a “catalogue team”
that makes decisions about what is and is not appropriate for the masses,
which is reminiscent of the censor boards of the twentieth century. When Amazon demanded that changes be made to both the cover and contents of
Auletris, I went to social media and then the media with the story. It was
first covered by an Australian news agency, but the article that got the
most attention was the one by the Guardian, which appeared Friday. On
Saturday, I got an e-mail from Amazon saying it had lifted its restrictions
on Auletris, and now customers can find it like any other book. They also

On 28 October The Guardian ran this story by  and

“A new volume of lost writing by the author Anaïs Nin has been consigned by online retailer Amazon to its “adult content dungeon” – which is not as kinky as it sounds. Instead it means that Amazon has effectively made the new book, Auletris: Erotica, invisible on its platform to anyone who searches for it under an “All Departments” filter. The publisher of the book, American independent outfit Sky Blue Press, calls Amazon’s decision “unbelievable”. Editor Paul Herron, whose detective work is to thank for the discovery of the manuscript, says that Auletris: Erotica exceeds in its “boldness and variety” Nin’s well-known – and still easily available – erotic works Delta of Venus and Little Birds“Auletris breaks many taboos. There are tales of incest, sex with children, rape, voyeurism, cutting, sadomasochism, homoeroticism (both male and female) [and] autoerotic asphyxiation, to name a few,” he wrote on the Anaïs Nin blog. “The characters are deliciously decadent, and the themes are largely based on Nin’s own experiences, recorded in her unexpurgated diaries. This book comes along just as interest in both Nin and the genre of erotica is booming,”

Herron told the Guardian: “Amazon has essentially blocked viewers from knowing Auletris exists by placing it in what is known as the ‘adult content dungeon’, which means that it does not show up when one searches for the title, unless the search is refined – and very few potential readers know this.” If readers go, therefore, to any of the company’s platforms and search “Auletris” under All Departments, the book does not show up. If they change the search filter to Kindle Store or Books, then a message appears saying that the results are adult content and they have to click through to see the product. “That extra step is the difference between buying or not buying,” Herron says. “Everyone I know in the erotica business tells me that, when Amazon places a book in the dungeon, it kills sales.” Herron says he has been met with “stiff, mindless opposition” in his appeals to Amazon to have the book removed from the dungeon, and has been told by five different people at the company that “rules are rules” and that “what gets a book rated adult is what you would expect”.

Amazon said that for them to bring the book back into the normal storefront, the cover would have to be modified to remove any bare nipples. The cover image is currently based on an erotic French postcard found in Nin’s possessions. In addition, the content of the book would have to be toned down. “This is impossible,” Herron says, “because it is, after all, erotica. When I pressed on, using every bit of logic I could muster – for instance [that] Fifty Shades of Grey is searchable, as are Nin’s Delta of Venus and Little Birds – not only was I given the brush-off, I was told that they were considering rating the other Nin erotica as ‘adult’, thereby rendering them as invisible as Auletris. This has yet to happen, but there was at least that threat. Note there is no such threat for Fifty Shades of Grey, which has made them a whole lot of cash.”

The stories that form Auletris were discovered by Herron in the papers of Gunther Stuhlmann, who was Nin’s literary agent and who died in 2002. Correspondence mentioned them and the papers included photocopied pages from the proposed book. It appears the stories had been written specifically for an unnamed patron in the 1930s, at a pay rate of one dollar per page, and were later published with a print run of just five copies in 1950 by Press of the Sunken Eye, prompting Herron to try to track down a surviving copy. He did, and it was republished by Sky Blue Press on 20 October this year.

Herron says: “The reason I believe Auletris is an important addition to Nin’s canon is that it is pure Nin – not to mention the fact that most of the book has never seen the light of day. I did not tinker with the contents – did not refine, cut, rearrange, change the phrasing, etc – but only tended to grammatical and spelling matters. I want the reader to experience exactly what the mysterious collector, for whom Nin wrote at a dollar a page, did.”



In global recognition of how zoos can be significant for species conservation, in October 2016, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT) became involved with two major International Conservation Awards. On Thursday 13 October, Durrell’s Chief Executive, Dr Lesley Dickie attended the 71st annual meeting of the World Association of Zoos and Aqariums held in Puebla, Mexico, and collected on behalf of the Trust the ‘WAZA Conservation Award. And two days later, on Saturday 15 October, Durrell’s Chief Scientist, Dr Carl Jones, was honoured at a dinner held in Indianapolis by being the recipient of the ‘2016 Indianapolis Prize’. Such an award was in recognition of Dr Jones’ outstanding achievements in helping to save animal species from extinction, including the Mauritius kestrel, the pink pigeon and the echo parakeet.

DWCT’s Honorary Director, Dr Lee Durrell, was delighted about both of these global honours and said: ‘I am overjoyed with the news that the Trust has won the WAZA Award, and so proud that we are the award’s first ever recipient. For it validates the efforts begun by Gerald Durrell so long ago to prove that zoos could become agents of species survival, and his firm belief that all zoos should strive towards this goal’.



Eye of the Beholder: The Alexandria Quartet

A study group, led by Rebecca Fisher, will meet at the University of Toronto in July 2017. Ms Fisher has provided the following overview:

With memory, with love, with any strong emotion, there often come many-sided truths. The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell’s experimental tetralogy of mystery, love, and espionage, explores memory and knowledge, contrasting in its story the love affair of a young writer with the recollections of other people. Anglo-Irish novelist, poet, translator, travel writer, and dramatist Lawrence Durrell (1912–1990) set the tale in Alexandria, Egypt, in the years before, during, and after World War II. The four volumes, Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, and Clea, involve the same characters, but each narrator tells the novels’ complex saga from his or her own perspective and place in time—“stereoscopic narrative,” in the words of Durrell.

What is the relationship between memory, place, and time? How should we define truth and knowledge? Does Durrell’s narrative approach better capture how we make different meanings from shared events? We’ll explore these questions and many more against the backdrop of a lushly written portrait of an ancient city.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, follow this link:

Rebecca Fisher’s blog on the Quartet:

Love in Stereo: Reading The Alexandria Quartet

By Becca Fisher

[Editor’s note: Becca will be leading Eye of the Beholder, a Toronto Pursuits seminar on Lawrence Durrell’s much-loved tetralogy The Alexandria Quartet. She is Director of Continuing Education at our partner Harrison Middleton University and a longtime member and discussion leader in the Great Books community. We are excited to welcome her as a Toronto Pursuits leader!]

“Far-off events, transformed by memory, acquire a burnished brilliance because they are seen in isolation, divorced from the details of before and after, the fibres and wrappings of time. The actors, too, suffer a transformation; they sink slowly deeper and deeper into the ocean of memory like weighted bodies, finding at every level a new assessment, a new evaluation in the human heart.” — Justine

When can we trust what we believe?

The Alexandria Quartet is a literary embodiment of this year’s Toronto Pursuits theme “What can we know?” We are given four beautifully crafted novels of the same sequence of events; the first three run simultaneously and the fourth is set six years later. Various narrators people this “modern investigation of love,” each with his or her own point of view. Author Lawrence Durrell says in the introduction to the quartet that he intended the first three novels (Justine, Balthazar, and Mountolive) to be siblings, not sequels. They cover the three dimensions of space: different perspectives but all present at once. The fourth novel (Clea) “unleashes the time dimension” on the events described in its predecessors.


Cecil Hotel, Alexandria by Andreas Georgiadis

As I worked my way through these novels, I was lost in the city of Alexandria, in the characters, in the exploration of love, in the varying perspectives of experience, in time itself. I was, in all senses of the word lost – at times perplexed, at times immersed and enraptured. I was reading a song. As I think Durrell intended, each novel provided a different movement of the quartet. Recounted through differing points of view, the events of a scene were like chords or melodies across—endlessly reinterpreted and set in a new context. I came to understand Durrell’s description of reality as a prism and began to question my own reality and what I know to be true.

Cecil Hotel, Alexandria in the 1920s

Even as the quartet examines the idea that shifting perspective makes us reevaluate what we think we know, Durrell’s poetic passages capture what we do know. His characters intricately explain our common human experiences, questions, and emotions about love. Along with all the question marks, the margins of my text are filled with comments of “Yes” and “So true”! The tension between feeling lost while encountering familiar landmarks is part of what makes the novels so compelling. Durrell said of his masterwork, “You might call it a sort of stereoscopic narrative with stereophonic personality.” What might that mean? And how does Durrell change our understanding of perspective, of reality in time and space, of the concept of knowledge itself? We will take on these questions in depth in our seminar, but a useful place to start is the meanings of stereoscopic and stereophonic. The first is defined as “relating to or denoting a process by which two photographs of the same object taken at slightly different angles are viewed together, creating an impression of depth and solidity.” Stereophonic describes a similar concept, but for sound: a stereophonic system uses “separated microphones and two transmission channels to achieve the sound separation of live hearing.”

Is truth simply the whole that forms when multiple viewpoints or inputs come together? Eye of the Beholder will reflect on how and when we can trust what we believe in relation to the concepts of time, place, memory, reality and perspective. Join me, and let’s explore this lushly written portrait of Alexandria.


 “Our view of reality is conditioned by our position in space and time – not by our personalities as we like to think. Thus every interpretation of reality is based upon a unique position. Two paces east or west and the whole picture is changed.” — Balthazar


DURRELL LIBRARY OF CORFU announces a new publication:

Lawrence Durrell’s unpublished text The Placebo: an Attic Comedy

The Durrell Library of Corfu is delighted to announce that it has secured  from the Estate of Lawrence Durrell the rights to publish a limited, scholarly edition of Durrell’s unpublished novel, The Placebo.

The Placebo: an Attic Comedy will be co-edited by Richard Pine and David Roessel, and published for the Durrell Library of Corfu by Colenso Books.

The Placebo exists in several manuscript and typescript versions. It was a draft novel which occupied Durrell between the completion of The Alexandria Quartet  and the publication of Tunc-Nunquam. The composition of Tunc-Nunquam was an extremely difficult period for Durrell, during which he suffered severe depression, and this is also reflected in The Placebo.

The drafts of The Placebo: an Attic Comedy bear a very strong resemblance to aspects of Tunc-Nunquam, but it has an identity distinct and separate from its successor. The characters of Caradoc, Charlock and Koepgen are central, and much of the text has a socio-architectural significance, since the novel is itself a hugely extended version of Durrell’s short story “Village of Turtle Doves”. The text of “Village of Turtle Doves” will be included in this scholarly edition.

Richard Pine comments: “Having enjoyed the privilege of producing an edition of Judith for the Durrell centenary year in 2012, I am thrilled that his last remaining major text will now be available. It will cast considerable light on the composition of Tunc-Nunquam. I am delighted that David Roessel, who has done so much to develop our understanding of Durrell’s interest in “Village of Turtle Doves”, his relationship with architect Austen Harrison, and the building project at Gourna, is joining me as co-editor.”

At a later stage, the Durrell Library of Corfu will announce a subscription whereby copies of The Placebo can be pre-ordered. These copies will be collectors’ items, numbered and signed by the editors and publisher.

Publication is envisaged for mid-2018.

Richard Pine founded the Durrell School of Corfu and directed its international seminars from 2002 until 2013. He is the author of Lawrence Durrell: the Mindscape (1994/2005) and edited Lawrence Durrell’s previously unpublished novel Judith for the Durrell centenary in 2012.

David Roessel is Professor of Greek Language and Literature and Associate Director, The Pappas Center for Hellenic Studies at Stockton University, and the author of In Byron’s Shadow: Modern Greece in English and American Literature (Oxford University Press 2001).

For further information, send an email to:


TV-related book by Michael Haag

This title will be published in February-March 2017 and is available for pre-order in both PAPERBACK and KINDLE from

Simon Nye’s TV series, The Durrells, is based loosely on Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Trilogy and in particular his much-loved bestseller, My Family and Other Animals. These books in turn are based somewhat loosely on actual events. The real-life Durrells went to Corfu at the urging of Lawrence Durrell, who was already living on the island with his wife, Nancy Myers. Their intent was to keep the family together as his mother, Louisa, was drinking heavily and recovering from a breakdown; ‘We can be proud of the way we brought her up,’ Larry said, only half-jokingly, of the family’s subsequent Corfu sojourn.
Michael Haag’s book covers the background to the Durrell family’s years in Corfu, including their time in India, where all the children were born, and where their father, a brilliant civil engineer, had died. It recalls the real life characters the Durrells encountered on Corfu, notably the biologist and poet Theodore Stephanides, and the taxi driver, Spiros Halikiopoulos. And Haag tells the story of how the Durrells left Corfu, including Margo’s return intent on joining the Greek resistance, and Leslie’s romance in England with the family’s Corfite maid and friend, Maria Kondos. Further chapters cover what happened to the family in later life; here, Lawrence and Gerald Durrell’s biographies are well known, but little has previously been written of Margo, Leslie and Louisa. Haag has fascinating stories to tell of them all.

Haag is the author of Alexandria: City of Memory which focusses on the lives of Cavafy, E M Forster and Lawrence Durrell in Alexandria, and is currently working on a biography of Lawrence Durrell for Yale University Press.



Durrell Re-Read : Crossing the Liminal in Lawrence Durrell’s Major Novels

By James M ClawsonDurrell Re-Read

Reading the twelve major novels of Lawrence Durrell, this study argues for their consideration as a single major project, an opus, marked by themes of liminality and betweenness. As major texts of mid-twentieth-century literature, repeatedly earning nominations for the Nobel Prize, Durrell’s work has attracted renewed critical attention since his centenary in 2012. This study shows the thematic unity of the opus in five areas. First, by disrupting expectations of love and death and by fashioning plural narrators, works in the opus blend notions of the subject and the object. Second, in their use of metafictional elements, the texts present themselves as neither fiction nor reality. Third, their approach to place and identity offers something between the naturalistic and the human-centric. Fourth, though the texts’ initial concerns are engaged with understanding the past and preparing for a future, they all resolve in something like the present. And fifth, though the novels reject many aspects of modernism, they reside nevertheless between the poles of modernism and postmodernism. Shared with other writers, including T.S. Eliot and Henry Miller, as early as the 1940s, Durrell’s plans for his major works of fiction remained consistent through the publication of the last novel in 1985, and these plans show the need to consider the twelve major works as a unitary whole.

This title, published by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, can be purchased from for the discounted price of é58.90 POST-FREE anywhere in the world.

A review of James Clawson’s book (by Richard Pine) can be found on the REVIEWS page of this website.


Tributes to the late Yehudi Menuhin in BBC Music magazine include the following in the June 2016 issue:

“Humphrey Burton’s centenary memoir of Yehudi Menuhin reminds me that in 1956 Diana Menuhin (nee Gould) took her husband to Cyprus to meet an old flame, Lawrence Durrell. Menuhin had a long-lasting impact on Durrell who became a lieflong friend. He introduced Durrell to yoga and thereby probably reduced the effects of Durrell’s drinking and smoking. Many years later, the Menuhins visited Durrell at his home in Sommieres (in the south of France) and Durrell reported to Henry Miller that while he was able to stand on his head for yoga, Menuhin could actually play the fiddle while doing so.”
Richard Pine, Corfu

The second volume of Gerald Durrell’s “Corfu Trilogy”, Birds, Beasts and Relatives, has been translated into Greek:


Ζώα, πουλιά και συγγενείς ( 978-960-471-126-0

The translation is by Mimika Dimitra


Gerald Durrell was ten when he went to live on Corfu with his family. It was there that he met the intoxicated hedgehogs, as well as a dancing bear, a talking head, tarantulas, dung beetles, water spiders and of course, a menagerie of eccentric friends.

Gerald Durrell effortlessly emmerses us in the glittering bays and sun-shined olive groves, teaming with weird astonishments.

This is the second volume in the Corfiot Trilogy, Kaleidoscope Publications have already published Η οικογένειά μου και άλλα ζώα, which was launched in Corfu’s Reading Society in May 2016.

All books by Kaleidoscope publications are available on our online bookshop

Τριλογία της Κέρκυρας αφηγείται με αστείρευτο χιούμορ και γοητεία τη ζωή του Ντάρελ –και των ζώων– τα τέσσερα χαρούμενα παιδικά χρόνια που έζησε στην Κέρκυρα του Μεσοπολέμου. Μια σπάνια και μαγική παιδική ηλικία που μόνο να την ζηλέψεις μπορείς…

«Θα μας φάει όλους!» τσίριξε η Μάργκο. «Φέρε ένα όπλο και σώσε τον Τζέρυ», είπε η Μητέρα λιγόθυμα. Γύρισα να δω τι συμβαίνει, κι εκεί, όρθιος στο άνοιγμα της πόρτας, ρουθουνίζοντας ελπιδοφόρα προς το τραπέζι με τα γλυκά, στεκόταν ο Παύλος. Πήγα δίπλα του και τρίφτηκε πάνω μου τρυφερά. «Τζέρυ, χρυσέ μου, πού τη βρήκες την αρκούδα;» ρώτησε η Μητέρα. «Δεν μ’ ενδιαφέρει πού τη βρήκε», είπε ο Λάρυ. «Θα την πάει πίσω αυτή τη στιγμή. Δεν θα το ανεχτώ! Πουλιά, σκυλιά, σκαντζόχοιροι σ’ όλο το σπίτι και τώρα μια αρκούδα

Λίγα λόγια για τον συγγραφέα:

Tζέραλντ Ντάρελ (1925 – 1995) γεννήθηκε στις Ινδίες. Ήταν τριών χρόνων όταν η οικογένεια Ντάρελ επέστρεψε στην Αγγλία. ] Το 1935 οι Ντάρελ αποφάσισαν να εγκατασταθούν στην Κέρκυρα και εκεί ο μικρός Τζέρυ –που ήταν ήδη μανιώδης φιλόζωος– εξελίχθηκε σε ενθουσιώδη φυσιολάτρη, για να γίνει αργότερα ένας από τους πιο σημαντικούς μελετητές και ένθερμος υποστηρικτής της Άγριας Ζωής. Το 1945 ήταν κιόλας φύλακας σε ζωολογικό κήπο και το 1947 διηύθυνε μία αποστολή στο Καμερούν – την πρώτη από πολυάριθμες που ακολούθησαν. Το 1959 ίδρυσε το Ζωολογικό Πάρκο του Τζέρσεϊ, κέντρο για τη διάσωση επαπειλούμενων ειδών, και το 1963 το Ίδρυμα Τζέρσεϊ για την Προστασία της Άγριας Ζωής, που τώρα ονομάζεται προς τιμήν του Ίδρυμα Ντάρελ για την Προστασία της Άγριας Ζωής. Το 1982, τιμώντας τον για το σημαντικό έργο του, η Βασίλισσα τον έχρισε μέλος του Τάγματος της Βρετανικής Αυτοκρατορίας.

New translation of My Family and Other Animals

a new translation of Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals by Marina Dimitra & Dimitra Simou has just been published by Kaleidoscope publishers (Athens) and was launched in Corfu and Athens in May by Lee Durrell.

Η οικογένειά μου και άλλα ζώα είναι ένα συναρπαστικό βιβλίο που περιγράφει με το μοναδικό χιούμορ του Τζέραλντ Ντάρελ τα τέσσερα χαρούμενα παιδικά χρόνια που έζησε στην Κέρκυρα του Μεσοπολέμου.  Εκτός από την έτσι κι αλλιώς ιδιόρρυθμη οικογένεια Ντάρελ, στις σελίδες του παρελαύνουν οι εκκεντρικοί φίλοι τους, τα σκυλιά τους και μια πολύχρωμη συλλογή από ζώα που κουβαλάει σπίτι του ο μικρός Τζέρυ για να τα μελετήσει καλύτερα. Καρακάξες, κουκουβάγιες, νερόφιδα, σκορπιοί και σαμιαμίδια, χελώνες, περιστέρια, ακόμα κι ένας γλάρος κρύβονται σε γωνιές και σε σπιρτόκουτα, πετούν ελεύθερα από δωμάτιο σε δωμάτιο και αναστατώνουν τη ζωή της οικογένειας σ’ αυτό το γεμάτο ήλιο χρονικό που οι κριτικοί το χαρακτήρισαν «θεότρελο», «έξοχο», «μαγικό», και οι αναγνώστες το αγάπησαν φανατικά.

Ο κ. Μπίλερ μας έδειχνε τη μια μετά την άλλη βίλες σε μεγάλη ποικιλία χρωμάτων, μεγέθους και τοποθεσίας, κι η Μητέρα κουνούσε το κεφάλι αρνητικά. Όταν, τέλος, επιθεωρήσαμε την δέκατη και τελευταία βίλα στον κατάλογο του κυρίου Μπίλερ κι η Μητέρα την αποδοκίμασε και αυτήν, ο κ. Μπίλερ κάθισε στα σκαλιά και σκούπισε το πρόσωπό του με το μαντήλι του.«Κυρία Ντάρελ», είπε, «σας έδειξα όλα τα σπίτια που ξέρω και δεν σας άρεσε κανένα. Τι είδους σπίτι ζητάτε, κυρία μου; Τι πρόβλημα έχουν αυτά τα σπίτια;» Η Μητέρα τον κοίταξε με έκπληξη. «Δεν το παρατηρήσατε;» ρώτησε. «Ούτε ένα δεν είχε κανονικό μπάνιο, με μπανιέρα».Ο κ. Μπίλερ γούρλωσε τα μάτια του. «Μα, κυρία μου», θρήνησε με αγωνία, «τι τη θέλετε την μπανιέρα; Έχετε τη θάλασσα!»Γυρίσαμε στο ξενοδοχείο σιωπηλοί.

Το βιβλίο που μάγεψε το αγγλόφωνο κοινό, τώρα και στα ελληνικά.

Λίγα λόγια για τον συγγραφέα:

Tζέραλντ Ντάρελ (1925 – 1995) γεννήθηκε στις Ινδίες. Ήταν τριών χρόνων όταν η οικογένεια Ντάρελ επέστρεψε στην Αγγλία. ] Το 1935 οι Ντάρελ αποφάσισαν να εγκατασταθούν στην Κέρκυρα και εκεί ο μικρός Τζέρυ –που ήταν ήδη μανιώδης φιλόζωος– εξελίχθηκε σε ενθουσιώδη φυσιολάτρη, για να γίνει αργότερα ένας από τους πιο σημαντικούς μελετητές και ένθερμος υποστηρικτής της Άγριας Ζωής. Το 1945 ήταν κιόλας φύλακας σε ζωολογικό κήπο και το 1947 διηύθυνε μία αποστολή στο Καμερούν – την πρώτη από πολυάριθμες που ακολούθησαν. Το 1959 ίδρυσε το Ζωολογικό Πάρκο του Τζέρσεϊ, κέντρο για τη διάσωση επαπειλούμενων ειδών, και το 1963 το Ίδρυμα Τζέρσεϊ για την Προστασία της Άγριας Ζωής, που τώρα ονομάζεται προς τιμήν του Ίδρυμα Ντάρελ για την Προστασία της Άγριας Ζωής. Το 1982, τιμώντας τον για το σημαντικό έργο του, η Βασίλισσα τον έχρισε μέλος του Τάγματος της Βρετανικής Αυτοκρατορίας.

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