Form and Content

(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Prospero’s Cell is an account of Lawrence Durrell’s life on the island of Corfu from 1937 to 1941. In 1937, Lawrence Durrell, his wife, his mother, and her other three children moved from England to Corfu. In Prospero’s Cell, only one brother is mentioned as being on Corfu; the book is largely structured around the life of Durrell and his wife. This book, as is true for three other books Durrell wrote about living on the Greek Isles, is most properly described as literature of residence since it concerns the life of someone who has gone to a place to live, not simply to visit as a tourist. Reflections on a Marine Venus (1953) concerns Durrell’s residence on the island of Rhodes. In Bitter Lemons (1957), Durrell tells of going to live on Cyprus from 1953 to 1956. These two and Prospero’s Cell, however, have for audience mainly those concerned with modern literature and culture. They do give information valuable for the inquisitive tourist, but of greater importance is that they tell of the culture of the islands during times of political and social change: the coming of World War II in Prospero’s Cell, the governance of Rhodes by the British after the war in Reflection on a Marine Venus, and the rebellion in Cyprus against British annexation in Bitter Lemons. A fourth book, The Greek Islands (1978), is a well-written and well-illustrated travel book, a guide to the Greek...

(The entire section is 574 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Dickson, Gregory. “Lawrence Durrell and the Tradition of Travel Literature,” in Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Quarterly. VII, no. 5 (1984), pp. 43-50.

Durrell, Gerald. My Family and Other Animals, 1957.

Fraser, G. S. Lawrence Durrell: A Critical Study, 1973 (revised edition).

Friedman, Alan Warren. “Place and Durrell’s Island Books,” in Critical Essays on Lawrence Durrell, 1987.

Markert, Lawrence W. “Symbolic Geography: D. H. Lawrence and Lawrence Durrell,” in Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Quarterly. V (Fall, 1981), pp. 90-101.

Pinchin, Jane Lagoudis. Alexandria Still: Forster, Durrell, and Cavafy, 1977.