[ilds] your messages to DG-- Prospero's Cell 1.1

Denise Tart & David Green dtart at bigpond.net.au
Sun Jun 10 20:33:51 PDT 2007

Edward Hungerford wrote

But unlike you, I was not only equally enchanted by the AQ as by Prospero and Marine Venice, but also -- I do consider the fictions in the AQ on as greater level of achievement than that of the travel books. On the other hand, I agree that the Avignon Quintet is taking Durrell's 'method' to extremes, and it is a really almost unreadable sequence. 

Edward, thinking back, I was being provocative when I bagged out the AQs. Justine is a great book and I like the way the style of Prosperos Cell runs into the beginning of it. Both books were on the go at the same time and there are obvious stylistic and thematic links. Of course in Justine the cast of odd characters is taken to an altogether higher plane than that attempted in Prospero's Cell, but the germ of it is there. In The Avignon cycle there is of course a familiar cast of eccentrics but the prose is more ponderous and the mental athleticism is lacking. Perhaps old age and too much vino were taking their toll?

Someone once said of Wordsworth that he had brilliant lines but terrible poems. In a way, the Avignon books are similiar; some great passages but perhaps not the best books in western literature. As you say...

At that time, I decided that the Quintet simply was a botched job, an example of Durrell's own poor judgment about what ordinary readers could put up with, to indulge a writer's own distorted taste in writing fiction.] In other words, a failure, however grand the design.

it is however a truly fascinating universe that he creates in this book even if it takes plenty of fine Australian Chardonnay with which to drink it down.


Denise Tart & David Green
16 William Street, Marrickville NSW 2204

+61 2 9564 6165
0412 707 625
dtart at bigpond.net.au
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