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The Avignon Quintet: Monsieur, Livia, Constance, Sebastian and Quinx (The Avignon Quintet #1-5)

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  259 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
An omnibus edition of the five novels published by Durrell in a kaleidoscopic sequence between 1974 and 1985. The books are set mainly in Avignon and the ancient kingdom of Provence, though significant episodes in the quintet are set in the Egyptian desert, Venice, Paris, Vienna and Geneva.
Paperback, 1376 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by Faber & Faber (first published January 1st 1992)
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Scribble Orca
Dec 01, 2010 Scribble Orca rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: literature fans
Recommended to Scribble by: an old friend
Lawrence Durrell is not an easy author to read. His prose is long, fabulous, filled with wandering soliloquies and journeys into the human heart, mind, spirit which at first can seem completely lacking in intention and purpose, and mere descriptive play and fascination with the written word.

He writes on a number of levels and performs immense spatial-temporal tricks with both setting and characters so that at times it is difficult to understand not just where one is located in one's reading of t
In the margin of a book she had borrowed from Sutcliffe she had found the scribbled words: “The same people are also others without realising it.”

I was last in Avignon a couple of years ago, for our ‘babymoon’. That photo was taken from the famous bridge (which by the way does not meet even the most minimal demands of a bridge, failing to make it more than halfway across the river).

Books and poetry are part of the very stonework of Avignon. Not literally; that would be architecturally foolish. B
T Fool
Oct 03, 2009 T Fool rated it it was amazing
These interconnected five can be read as a love story, but one isn’t fully sure whose until deep into the book. The reader has several choices along the way (Piers, Sylvie, Bruce, Sabine, Hilary, Sam, the Prince, Pia, Livia, Constance, Aubrey – this is not an exhaustive list), and the way complicates itself by embedding a main fiction at its start.

The themes are all there early: traditions in the land, hidden treasure, sexual license, religious heresy, politics. From the pages of Monsieur grow
Lynne King
Sep 04, 2013 Lynne King rated it it was amazing
This actually comprised books which I have. His style of writing has changed somewhat; it is far more complex but still utterly fascinating.
Stephen Hawks
May 04, 2008 Stephen Hawks rated it it was amazing
This work is more measured than the Alexandria Quartet, less musical but no less rewarding in other ways.
Feb 03, 2013 Lysergius rated it really liked it
What can you say about a book that is longer than War and Peace? Although strictly speaking it is composed of 5 short novels. An interesting cast of characters, doing what people do in peace and war. Set in and around Avignon as the title suggests. There is development of the characters, yet the background is curiously static. What's a few years in centuries? The text itself is rich and dense and rewarding. It is to be savoured on the senses like a fine wine for maximum enjoyment. Having finishe ...more
Lux Anet
Dec 30, 2014 Lux Anet rated it really liked it
The universe is playing, the universe is only improvising!

Alas, teleological angst ad infinitum. For which I've awarded four stars, rather than the three I'd initially intended, as Durrell's dedication to said frustration throughout his quasi-anecdotal quintet seems somewhat less distressing (if slightly more shaggy) upon consideration...
Feb 22, 2010 Christina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

This book reads the way a book is meant to read. The charaters are outrageous and must be based off the authors close friends because reading this book was like having a long and vivid lucid dream.
Dec 19, 2013 Philip rated it really liked it
In Egypt, in Alexandria to be precise, if precision be our goal, Lawrence Durrell once attempted to fuse fiction into a relativistic universe that, poorly interpreted, might blur perception to render all positions relevant. The aim was vast and its non-achievement eventually irrelevant, for the quartet that grew out of it proved to be an enduring masterpiece. Half a generation later, and self-referentially, Lawrence Durrell began a quest to go one better. Over the decade it took to construct, th ...more
Tadzio Koelb
Mar 28, 2013 Tadzio Koelb rated it it was ok
From my short bio Lawrence Durrell for the British Writers Retrospective: Supplement III:

By the end of The Avignon Quintet we are confronted with a novel about a novelist, Blanford, who has written a novel about himself in the guise of a character, Sutcliffe, also a novelist, who is writing a novel featuring a novelist, with other writers entering the equation at various levels—including Durrell, who writes himself into the story in “Envoi,” the blank-verse postscript to Monsieur, as D., he who
T.J. Green
Apr 26, 2016 T.J. Green rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lawrence-durrell
The first series I read of LD. Laugh out loud, inventive, clever. It opened up a whole new world of literature for me, and life, if I'm honest.
The story is made of layers of meta fiction, and the interactions of characters real and invented by the narrator. As usual in LD's fiction the setting takes centre stage. The prose is rich, the characters verbose, it has to be read to be believed.
It's not an easy read, but well worth it.
Jun 29, 2010 Connie rated it liked it
I am a huge fan of the Alexandria Quartet. I read the first four of the Quintet, and realize that it is probably equally wonderful, but was often lost and confused without a strong enough understanding of the underlying history. When the fifth book came out, I didn't have the heart to take it on. Someday, I hope to start them again - after studying up a bit more on history.
Mar 04, 2009 Anna rated it liked it
Reading each part of The Avignon Quintet was weird. Mostly it's about morality and sexuality for me, and maybe hints of discusssion on Nazism and World War II.
Tina Saldiran
Apr 03, 2010 Tina Saldiran rated it liked it
Would have given it more stars but compared to his other works it falls short. There is too much easily avoidable and quite unnecessary length to it.
Jun 04, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although not as mesmerizing as the Alexandria Quartet, the mood and action of southern France moves along. Great stories
Rod White
Mar 10, 2007 Rod White rated it liked it
Just started this one, it is a slow read and a long read so don't hold your breath ...
J. Argyl
Feb 17, 2013 J. Argyl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hands down loved this book. Dense at times but ALWAYS worth it.
Kathy Morten
Heavy reading, something you need to spend time on.
David Cain
Dec 01, 2012 David Cain rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, mature fiction
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Lawrence George Durrell was a critically hailed and beloved novelist, poet, humorist, and travel writer best known for The Alexandria Quartet novels, which were ranked by the Modern Library as among the greatest works of English literature in the twentieth century. A passionate and dedicated writer from an early age, Durrell’s prolific career also included the groundbreaking Avignon Quintet, whose ...more
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Other Books in the Series

The Avignon Quintet (5 books)
  • Monsieur
  • Livia or Buried Alive (The Avignon Quintet #2)
  • Constance, or Solitary Practices
  • Sebastian, or, Ruling Passions: A Novel
  • Quinx

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“There is nothing stranger than to love somebody who is mad, or who is intermittently so. The weight, the strain, the anxiety is a heavy load to bear – if only because among these confusional states and hysterias loom dreadful probabilities like suicide or murder. It shakes one’s hold also on one’s own grasp of reality; one realises how precariously we manage” 1 likes
“There is always a philosophy behind the misadventures of men, even if they are unaware of it.’ And” 0 likes
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