Lawrence Durrell, Postmodernism and the Ethics of Alterity


Lawrence Durrell, Postmodernism and the Ethics of Alterity is of interest for any reader wishing to explore the interface between literature, and critical and cultural theory. The volume investigates the notions of alterity which underlie the work of Lawrence Durrell and postmodernist theory. The introduction sketches the Levinasian ethics of alterity and re-evaluates Durrell's fiction within the context of postmodernism. For the first time a study calls upon Durrell's later work, especially The Avignon Quintet, to propose an other reading of Durrell. Criticising the notion of the canon and extending the context of a postmodernist ethics of alterity, this reading embraces the alterity of receiving the un(re)ceivable text as the only possibility of reading Durrell's work today. The volume then focuses on the notion of alterity in the context of Durrell's gnostic philosophy, which it compares to postmodernist world views or cosmologies. The resulting critique of alterity is seen as central to defining the relation between postmodernism, as a dominant discourse in contemporary Western culture, and e.g. its postcolonial others. Other aspects of the study are the common concern of postmodernism and Durrell's writings with the other of time and history, or with the time of the event, the notion of an intrinsic alterity in the individual psyche and Durrell's post-identitarian and post-individual Quintet (in the context of contemporary psychoanalytical theories about the subject). The Avignon Quintet has to be understood as a project of cultural translation the colonial politics of which is inscribed into the debate about globalisation, difference and cultural hybridisation. This study criticises the underlying notions of alterity in the Quintet and postmodernisms, it argues instead for an ethics of translation which pluralises the concepts of alterity and language in order to achieve a more positive exchange between postmodernist and postcolonial theories and literatures.

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Lawrence Durrell, Postmodernism and the Ethics of Alterity: I. Introduction: The Ethics of the Other and the Other Durrell: Receiving The Avignon Quintet. II. The Knowledge of the Other: Durrell, Postmodernism and Gnosis. III. The Time of the Other: Durrell, History and Postmodernism. IV. The Other-Than-Me: Durrell and the Postmodernist Subject. V. The Place of the Other: Durrell and the Politics of Cultural Difference. VI. Conclusion - The Language of the Other: Durrell between Postmodernism and Postcolonialism. Bibliography.