‘Mother’ Durrell, 1961

Louisa Durrell, ‘Mother’, with a chimp.

Photograph by Loomis Dean for Life, taken in Jersey in 1961.

Dean came to photograph Lawrence Durrell and his wife Claude during their visit to Gerald Durrell on Jersey in 1961.

Notes on Durrell and the Symbolists

In 1958, a year after Durrell published Justine, Frey A. Stark published a review of his latest nonfiction work, Bitter Lemons, in the New York Times.

“One of the best English poets of our time, Lawrence Durrell, presents us, in his latest book, with a very notable achievement,” Stark writes. “It is not often that a topical subject gains by the handling of a poet. The emotional climate, to which poets are so sensitive, is damaging to the balance of reason.”

Durrell, the poet, published what is now his best-known book, Justine, as a novel – an odd state of affairs because in many ways it is a book of poems. John Press came close to recognizing this phenomenon when he wrote that the “best introduction to the Alexandria Quartet is the collected poems, just as the best gloss on his poems is the Alexandria Quartet”. In fact, large parts of Justine are not just prosified poetry, but read better as poems. Continue reading