In Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet in its Egyptian Contexts, Dr. Diboll argues that Durrell's tetralogy is the most important English novel of the mid-nineteen-fifties, an historically significant period which has been much overlooked by literary scholars. It convincingly demonstrates the importance of the Alexandria Quartet as a "Janus text" which looks back to the lost world of the British Empire, yet anticipates many important aspects of later post-colonial and postmodern writing. Thus, the book insists, the Alexandria Quartet should be recognised as a colossal work of literature, standing astride the nexus separating the colonial and post-colonial moments, a paradigmatic text for scholars of Empire studies, late Modernism, literary postmodernity, orientalism and post-colonial literature. This wide-ranging work explores the influence of all of the many strata of Egyptian history on the Quartet and in doing so offers a sustained meditation of the interaction of time, place and exile on the literary imagination. Its focus on exile is especially poignant, taking in the cultural and psychological alienation of this "third generation Anglo-Irish-Indian", an "English pied-noir" from a most unheimlich English "homeland", the effects of Durell's voluntary exile in Greece during the inter-war years on his literary sensibility, and psychological and existential impact of Durrell's flight from the Nazi occupation of Greece and his four years as a refugee in war-time Alexandria, which he experienced as an "Oriental" Other starkly juxtaposed to his "free Hellenic world". This work does not neglect to examine Egyptian responses to the Alexandria Quartet, and it examines with a forensic thoroughness the way in which the "public life realities" of emergent Egyptian nationalism are subtly embedded in what for too long has been considered to be a work of fantasy. Seeking to go beyond the Saidian Orientalist paradigm, the book proposes that aspects of Bhabhaian hybridity theory, combined with a rigourous socio-historical analysis, offer the most effective theoretical insights into Durrell's seething Alexandrian cosmopolis.
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