The second major cycle of novels by Lawrence Durrell
, The Avignon Quintet
is a very intricate work.
Starting off as an almost idyllic
novel set in Avignon
, a town in Southern France that was once the center of the Catholic Church
, the cycle develops into an intricate reflection about death
At least to me, this is a more "technical" novel than The Alexandria Quartet
: the literary play is more overt
, and we are confronted with difficulties like an author meeting his characters, and people reappearing from the dead (maybe under another name).
The setting for this novel is mostly Southern France, but Geneva and Egypt play an important part as well.
This is a twilight set of novels, written by a man that was close to his death and had had a full and complex life, with not little suffering: the author is not reconciled with death, that he calls "the fundamental trauma of the human being", and the Egyptian Gnostic philosophy is of little help here.
What I particularly appreciate here is that although certain Oriental speculations and mystical solutions are presented as possible solutions to the problem of life and death, they are not declared to be The Solution.
There is no panacea to man's illness, and Lawrence Durrell knew it full well.